Flying as a military member comes with its perks when members of the Canadian Armed Forces chose to fly with any one of Canada’s major airlines.
However, when it comes to the realities of taking advantage of these benefits, many members of the military community have faced difficulties when it comes to claiming baggage and when to claim it and how to claim it when checking in online.
According to WestJet’s website, the baggage allowance for military members is, “any military personnel travelling for business or personal reasons can do so with a maximum of four bags on WestJet flights and a maximum of three bags on WestJet Encore flights at no additional charge. We will not charge overweight and/or oversized baggage fee(s) fee(s) for military personnel; however, baggage exceeding our maximum permitted size or weight will not be accepted as guest baggage and must be shipped via cargo (all applicable fees apply).”
To take advantage of the four free bags policy, all military members are required to do is show a valid piece of military ID.
The website specifically states that this allowance does not extend to family members, dependents or civilian employees of the DND.
However, despite the clearly stated policy online, some members of the military community have faced various challenges with their luggage including not been allowed to check four bags or have been forced to split baggage with travelling companies, who are then charged the standard fee.
Although, WestJet did not comment on these specific instances and why there are discrepancies with implementing their policies at times, WestJet does encourage customers to contact them with concerns.
“Should there be any issues during travel with our policies posted online we strongly encourage anyone affected to connect with our guest support team/contact centre to ensure the baggage fees for any military personnel travelling for business or personal have been waived appropriately,” said Morgan Bell, spokesperson for WestJet.
Visit Guest Services West Jet directly if you encounter any issues.
Other Canadian airlines, such as Air Canada, also have policies for baggage allowance benefits for military members.
When flying Air Canada, Air Canada rouge or Air Canada Express, both Canadian and U.S. military members, active and veterans, are allowed to check in three pieces of baggage, each weighing 32 kg, free of charge.
Families and dependents are not included in this allowance.
To take advantage of these benefits, military members are requested to indicate they are travelling without luggage when checking-in via computer, cell phone or airport kiosk. Then, at the airport military members must go to the Air Canada counter to have bags tagged and checked- in free-of-charge after presenting military ID.
According to Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick, military members should note that “baggage allowance for military personnel does not apply to itineraries which include connecting flights with other airlines (including Star Alliance member airlines). Regular baggage allowance and fees will apply.”
Air Transat also has its particular policies that extend benefits to military personnel.
Currently serving and veterans of the CAF or U.S. military, and one travelling companion, are entitled to complimentary standard seat selection, 25 per cent discount on option plus (if available), one piece of checked baggage up to 23 kg free, and 50 per cent discount on fees applied to additional pieces of luggage.
Air Transat requires a minimum three-day notice to arrange benefits for military personnel traveling on their airlines. CAF members are also required to submit a form online and present a CFOne Card.
To access Air Transat’s online form click here.
To reach out to WestJet regarding a question or concern click here for the airline’s customer service information.