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Money-saving Veterans Day deals and travel perks for the military and veterans

Nov. 11, 2021
11 min read
African American soldier hugging son in airport
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Editor's Note

This post has been updated with new information.

As we honor all those who have served our country this Veterans Day, did you know many businesses across the U.S. offer deals as a thank you for military members and veterans?

From free food and theme-park admission tickets to airline perks like free checked bags and discounted hotel stays, read on to see all the deals vets can take advantage of this year.

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Free admission to theme parks

Many theme parks offer military members and veterans free admission (in some cases, throughout the year) and some extend that offer to their family members, including:

  • Legoland (Florida): Active-duty service members receive free admission every day of the year; veterans and military family members receive 60% off tickets.
  • Legoland (California): Active military members can receive a 10% discount on admission throughout the year.
  • Colonial Williamsburg: (Virginia.) Veterans, active-duty military and their immediate dependents receive free admission on either Memorial Day weekend or Veterans Day weekend, in addition to a 25% discount off a single-day admission ticket for themselves and dependents throughout the year.
  • Mystic Aquarium: (Mystic, Conn.) Active-duty military receive free admission.
  • Crayola Experience: (Plano, Texas.). All veterans, active and retired military members receive free admission throughout November; immediate family members receive 25% off admission.
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens: All members of the military — active and retired — receive free admission to the zoo on Veterans Day, in addition to $5 off adults and child admission.
  • Birmingham Zoo: Free admission for military and dependents on both Memorial Day weekend and Nov. 9-11 for Veterans Day.
  • Aquarium of the Pacific: (Long Beach, Calif.) On Nov. 11, all veterans and military personnel receive free admission.
Leogland, California in Carlsbad, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton via Getty Images)

Read more: The Essential Guide to Legoland Florida

Free admission to national parks

Any visitors to any one of the 400 National Parks will receive free entry on Nov. 11, not just veterans. Additionally, many of the parks host Veterans Day-related events, including in-person and virtual ceremonies, parades, concerts and service projects, a list of which can be found here.

Related: Use points to stay near national parks

Free haircuts and car washes

Veterans and active, inactive or retired military personnel can get a free haircut on Veterans Day at Great Clips, which has more than 4,400 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. If you are not quite due for another haircut, stop in at the shop to pick up a certificate that you can redeem from Nov. 12 through Dec. 10, 2021.

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If your car is in need of a nice cleaning, there are more than 1,600 car washes that will wash your car for free for veterans and service personnel thanks to the nonprofit Grace For Vets, which has given more than 3 million free car washes since 2003.

Free food

Many restaurants honor active military members and veterans by offering discounted or free meals, including the following national chains:

  • Applebee’s: Active-duty military and veterans and their families receive 10% off their bill year-round, but veterans get a free meal annually on Veterans Day.
  • BJ’s Restaurant Brewhouse: On Veterans Day, all current and former military will receive a free entree plus a free Dr. Pepper.
  • Chili’s: On Nov. 11, all veterans and active-duty military members will receive a free Veterans Day meal.
  • Denny’s: All active, non-active and retired military personnel will receive a free Grand Slam breakfast on Veterans Day.
  • Fogo de Chão: Military veterans and active-duty personnel will receive 50% off their meal – and up to three guests dining will get 10% off their meal – on Nov. 11.
  • Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub: On Veterans Day, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., all veterans and active-duty military will receive a free lunch from a special Veterans Day menu.
  • Olive Garden: Olive Garden will offer veterans and active-duty military personnel who dine in a free entrée from a special menu on Nov. 11.
  • Outback Steakhouse: All servicemen and women receive a 10% heroes discount daily, in addition to a free Bloomin’ Onion and Coca-Cola product on Nov. 11 for active and retired military.
  • Red Lobster: On Nov. 11, all veterans, active-duty military and reservists will receive a free appetizer or dessert, in addition to Military Mondays, where all active-duty military personnel receive 10% off their meal every Monday.
  • Texas de Brazil: Veterans get 25% off dinner between Nov. 8-11.

Related: Amtrak Launches 10% Discount for Veterans and Active Duty Military

Discounted hotel rates

U.S. military personnel are offered discounted rates at many hotels throughout the entire year:

  • Best Western: Veterans, military and government personnel enjoy discounts at or below per diem rates at Best Western Hotels & Resorts throughout North America.
  • Choice Hotels: Active-duty or reserve military members, retired military, National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard members are all eligible for Lifetime Gold Elite status with the Choice Privileges rewards program. The hotel will also award military 2,500 bonus points after their next qualifying stay. They can also save up to 15% on your next hotel stay by booking in advance through their Feed a Vet program, which provides free meals to current and past members.
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts: State, federal and U.S. military employees can take advantage of the Government/Military rate box and receive discounted hotel rates. The hotel chain also offers 10% savings for active and retired military, veterans and their families on leisure stays.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group: With the IHG Military Appreciation Rate, active or retired U.S. or Canadian military personnel, or dependent family members, will receive discounted rates at participating IHG hotels across Canada, the United States, Central and South America.
  • Wyndham Hotels & Resorts: Military members, veterans and their families receive up to 15% off the best available rate at participating Wyndham Hotel Group locations. Additionally, military guests are automatically upgraded to Wyndham Rewards Gold membership and get 1,000 bonus points after completing their first qualifying stay.
  • Marriott: Discounted federal, state and local government rates are available to government and military personnel.
  • Motel 6: All active and retired military personnel and their families can receive up to a 10% discount at over 1,400 locations.
  • Red Roof Inn: Government employees, military, veterans and retired military receive 10% off for government and military official travel as well as leisure travel.

Related: The best credit cards for active-duty military

The Beach House, A Holiday Inn Resort. (Photo courtesy of IHG.)

Airfare discounts and benefits

Similar to discounted hotel rates, military personnel also receive discounted airfare on select major carriers. Just note these discounts are typically discluded from promotional or web fares, where you might actually find less expensive prices. Many airlines will also extend free checked bags or other benefits to military personnel.

Alaska Airlines: Active-duty personnel and their dependents get up to five free checked bags up to 70 pounds each, in addition to other benefits, including preboarding privileges and a 15% discount on food purchased in flight, complimentary Alaska Lounge day passes for active-duty U.S. military personnel who are traveling on orders and a Veterans Advantage discount in booking flights.

American Airlines: Government or military fares are offered in some markets, but you will have to call to book. Veterans and their families can save up to 10% on domestic and international flights by enrolling in VetRewards and booking through Veterans Advantage. Active U.S. military personnel, traveling on orders, can check five bags for free; those traveling for leisure can check three bags for free. Active military members can also receive special perks such as early boarding and access to the Admirals Club. TPG has even been told that American Airlines allows active U.S. military members (and their family members traveling on the same reservation) to receive complimentary access to preferred seats and main cabin extra seats from an airport agent, if available.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

Delta Air Lines: For active-duty members of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, Delta provides exclusive discounts on travel. To book personal travel or travel on military orders, call the Delta Military and Government desk at 800-221-1212. On military orders, you can check up to five bags for free and two to three bags for personal travel (two bags if traveling on in Basic Economy, Main Cabin, or Delta Comfort; three bags if traveling in first class, Delta Premium Select, or Delta One). Active-duty military personnel will also receive preboarding access and military members and U.S. State Department foreign service officers can check their pets as baggage when traveling on active transfer orders.

Frontier Airlines: U.S. military passengers with active-duty status will receive one free personal item, one free carry-on bag and two free checked bags.

Hawaiian Airlines: Baggage fees are waived for U.S. military personnel — travelers on military orders (including qualified dependents) will receive up to five bags for free; those on personal travel will receive up to two bags for free.

Related: Why the Amex Platinum card is best for active-duty military

JetBlue: U.S. active-duty military, retired military veterans, National Guard and Reserve members can receive a 5% discount on all JetBlue flights. There are two offers: Veterans Advantage and Active Duty Military Personnel. Active-duty personnel traveling for duty (and their dependents) can check up to five bags for free. Active-duty personnel traveling for leisure (and their dependents) can check up to two bags for free.

Southwest: Southwest offers special tickets for military and government personnel, but you must call to book. All Southwest passengers receive two checked bags for free, but military passengers traveling on active duty or permanent change of stations orders will not be subject to excess, oversize, or overweight baggage charges, as long as none of the pieces exceed 100 pounds and 80 inches.

Spirit Airlines: For active-duty military, Spirit will provide two free checked bags and a free carry-on, in addition to the included free personal item.

United Airlines: U.S. military veterans, active-duty military, National Guard and Reserve members and their families will receive up to a 5% discount on tickets purchased on (the flight must be operated by United or United Express). You must register with Veterans Advantage first to take advantage of this discount. Active-duty military personnel traveling on official orders or for pleasure can also check extra baggage free of charge. In some cases, military dependents will also be included. Additionally, active-duty members will receive preboarding and access to United Club locations.

(Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images)

Bottom line

If you are an active military member or veteran, first and foremost, thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do for our country.

Now, go ahead and enjoy your perks, which will ultimately never be enough to show our gratitude.

Related: The best Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits for active-duty military

Additional reporting by Caroline Tanner.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.