Exchange USA Military Travel Services recognizes the difference in a service member traveling versus a civilian. Here are a few tips we feel that might make your military travel on commercial airlines a little easier for you.
Pack two days before your scheduled departure. Make a checklist and mark off every item you may be required to have when you get to your destination. Also if you are attending a school, take a few minutes to review their website. Sometimes they have a packing list and it’s better to have the necessary items with you instead of arriving and not being able to locate them on base.
Arrive 90 minutes early for your flight. Airport conditions are not predictable. The best thing is always to be early thru security and check in as early as possible with boarding and then you have free time on your hands to relax before your flight.
Join every airline, rental car, and hotel club you can. Take advantage of the points you can accrue they may help get an upgrade when you want to treat yourself to a first class seat on a trip home. Make a point to present your military ID and ask if there are any upgrades available. You stand a better chance than most of snagging a better seat or getting a free drink or extra food. Don’t be bashful about this- most airlines recognize the effort you make for your country and do what they can to help our service members when they travel
When packing your bags put everything that’s heavy on top. Your boots, helmets, books etc and all of the smaller things go on the bottom. The reason for this is that if your bag was to be searched it enables the security officer to repack your bag neatly and hopefully not disturbing your belongings too much.
Always use a TSA approved lock on your baggage
Keep your boarding pass and (military and personal) ID readily available at all times
If you have been issued a credit card make sure it has been activated before your departure
Your TDY folder is important make sure you have it in a safe place. Its contents should include your travel itinerary, your orders, and all receipts from your trip. This will keep everything organized for you and for reimbursement upon your return. Check with your command about whether scanning your receipts and uploading them is a possibility if you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time.
Do you best to enjoy your trip. One of the advantages of being in the military is the opportunity you get to travel. Meet new people and make new friends. The less stressed you are, the better the chance you can have fun and enjoy the fact you’re not just hanging out wondering what to do next.