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

Nov. 11, 2019
12 min read
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For many families, the month of November means winter is quickly approaching. Preparations for Thanksgiving and the holidays have begun. But for those who have served our country, there is a little more to the month: Veterans Day — a day to honor the men and women who have served our country.

As a small thank you to veterans and their families, there are many deals for active military members and veterans at a variety of merchants. This includes everything from free food and theme-park admission tickets to free checked bags and discounted hotel stays.

Related: Credit card benefits for active-duty military members

Free admission to theme parks

Many theme parks across the United States are offering military members and veterans free admission to theme parks, with some extending the offer to family members, too. Here is a sample of the theme parks opening their doors to military families:

Legoland (Florida): Not limited to Veterans Day, active-duty service members receive free admission every day of the year; veterans and military family members receive discounted tickets. (Here's TPG's Guide to Legoland Florida.)

Legoland (California): Available every day of the year, military members can receive a one-day Legoland ticket for $69 or a three-day resort hopper for $84.99.

Colonial Williamsburg: Veterans, active-duty military and their immediate dependents receive free admission Nov. 8 to Nov. 11.

Mystic Aquarium: Located in Mystic, Connecticut, active-duty military receive free admission from Nov. 9 to Nov. 17; military family members receive a $10 discount.

Crayola Experience: Located in Plano, Texas, all veterans, active and retired military members receive free admission throughout November; immediate family members receive 25% off admission.

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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens: All members of the military — active and retired — receive free admission to the zoo on Veterans Day. Half-price admission tickets can be purchased for immediate family members (up to six discounted tickets).

Birmingham Zoo: All weekend long, between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11, the zoo is giving free admission to veterans, active and retired military, and their dependents.

Oregon Zoo: On Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, the zoo will offer free admission to all veterans and their families, active military families and families of deployed military personnel.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium: Between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11, all veterans and active-duty military receive complimentary admission; family members receive a 50% general admission discount at the front gate.

Aquarium of the Pacific: Between Nov. 9 and 15, all veterans and military personnel receive free admission.

Edaville Railroad, Thomas Land: Located in Carver, Massachusetts, military, police, fire rescue, veterans or retired service personnel receive free admission. Immediate family members are $20 per person (children under 2 are free). Hero appreciation takes place Nov. 15 through Nov. 19 as well as many other dates throughout December.

(Photo courtesy of Edaville.)

Free admission to national parks

Not limited to veterans, all visitors this weekend will receive free admission to more than 400 national parks. There are many national parks within every state, so this is a great day to get your family outside to explore.

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. If you are not due for another haircut, stop in at the shop to pick up a certificate that you can redeem by Dec. 31, 2019.

If your car is in need of a nice cleaning, there are over 1,500 car washes that will wash your car for free — if you are a veteran or service personnel.

Free food

Many restaurants around the United States are honoring active military members and veterans by offering discounted or free meals. Call your local restaurant in advance to make sure they are participating. Some of the more popular chain restaurants include:

Applebee's: Active-duty military and veterans, along with their family, receive 10% off their bill year-round, but veterans get a free meal on Veterans Day -- Nov. 11.

BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse: On Veterans Day, all current and former military will receive a free entree up to $14.95, plus a free Dr. Pepper.

Chili's: On Veterans Day, 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: Between Nov. 8 and 11, military veterans and active-duty personnel will receive 50% off their meal (and up to three guests dining will get 10% off their meal).

Logan’s Roadhouse: Active-duty military members and veterans will receive a free meal on Veterans Day between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; on every other day, you can receive a 10% discount on your meal.

Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub: On Veterans Day, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., all veterans and active-duty military who purchase any meal will receive an additional free lunch from the “9 Real Size Entrées for $9.99 Menu.”

Outback Steakhouse: Between Nov. 8 and 11, all servicemen and women, police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel and their immediate family members will receive 20% off their meals. Throughout the year, Outback Steakhouse also offers a 10% Heroes Discount.

Red Lobster: On Monday Nov. 11, all veterans, active-duty military and reservists, will receive a free appetizer or dessert.

Texas de Brazil: Veterans get 50% off lunch or dinner between Nov. 11 to 13.

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 and retired military personnel, federal employees, cost reimbursable contractors and employees of foreign governments are eligible for the Choice Hotels military discount and government hotel rate program at over 2,700 participating properties. You can also take advantage of the Feed a Vet program and save up to 15% by booking in advance with the Pay Now and Save Rate.

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 Group: Military members, veterans and their families receive up to 20% off the best available rate at participating Wyndham Hotel Group locations.

Marriott: Discounted federal, state and local government rates are made 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.

Hyatt: Active duty military, veterans and their immediate family members can receive between 10% – 15% off at participating hotels in the U.S.

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. These discounts are typically not in addition to 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. Active-duty members will also receive a discount of $150 plus tax when shipping their pet (normal price is typically between $250 and $350) as well as other benefits, including preboarding privileges and a 15% discount on food purchased in flight. Alaska Lounge day passes are also now complimentary for active-duty U.S. military personnel, who are traveling on orders.

American Airlines: Government or military fares are offered in some markets, but you will have to call to book. Active U.S. military personnel, traveling on orders, can also 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 800-325-1771. 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.

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 will be waived for U.S. military personnel -- travelers on military orders (including qualified dependents) will receive up to four bags for free; those on personal travel will receive up to two bags for free.

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

Southwest: Southwest offers special tickets for military and government, 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 (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. If you come across any great perks or deals for military families, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Featured image by Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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