Travelling in the United States about ten years ago was the first time I received a “Thank you for your service”. I was at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, FL and I was about to receive four free tickets for admission to the park as a retired member of a foreign military. All I had to do was show my NDI 75 Record of Service Identification Card and I was IN, saving about $150 on tickets. At that time there was not much in the way of discounts in Canada for serving military, and even less for retired reservists, and the generosity of the Anheuser-Busch company was very much appreciated, as was the free beer at their “Beer School”, unfortunately now discontinued.
Canada was ramping up its role in Afghanistan back then and the American military, and the American public and American corporations, appreciated our support. As a Class A Reservist for most of my “career” I felt a bit of a fraud being thanked for my “service”, but the sincerity of the woman in change of handing out the free tickets was real.
So, what DOES a uniform, or military identification or proof of former “service”, get you these days? Plenty! Here are just a few of the benefits available to serving and, in many cases, retired Canadian military. All you need is some official identification; more on that later.
Many North American airlines have enhanced checked baggage allowances for military. Typically this involves extra baggage allowance and/or reduce checked baggage fees. Most airlines ask you to check in online, indicating that you have NO checked baggage, and then deal with a live agent when you arrive at the airport. I’ve taken advantage of this benefit on these four airlines, but many others have a similar policy. In the case of some American carriers the policy may state “US Military” only but in my experience they love and welcome Canadians! This benefit can easily save you some serious money on your next family vacation.
This is typical of the many summaries of this benefit that can be found with a quick Google search:
Just remember – it is always a good idea to check directly with the airline before travel begins and to graciously accept whatever they offer upon check-in, even if it is less than you may have been expecting.
If you are a fan of rail travel Via offers a 25% discount for you and family members:
Many amusement and theme parks in the US and Canada offer discounts to current and former military, including Canada’s Wonderland which offers up to six discounted tickets for serving military:
There are many websites devoted to this info, such as:
Hotel chains and cruise lines also offer discounts or other benefits. On my first cruise I received a US$ 100 on-board credit just for faxing a copy of my NDI 75 Record of Service:
Most of the major cruise lines offer something:
While many military discounts are available in the travel and tourism sector of the economy, there are also discounts on:
Hotels and Motels:
Just about every major chain and many independents offer a Government and/or military discount; this is just one example:
And many, many more; there are lots of organizations that collect information on military discounts and distribute through various channels, e.g.
Now, how to prove that you are current or former military? For currently serving members, just show your official military identification. For those no longer serving, there are a couple of choices. If you have already received an NDI 75 Record of Service Identification Card you can use that. Unfortunately DND is no longer issuing the NDI 75:
Fortunately the CF One card can be used instead of the NDI 75 in most situations; see here for more information and how to apply for yours:
· Carry and show your current military or former service identification card when reasonable, but be gracious if the discount is minimal or not available
· If you don’t have a CF One card, apply today. You will need proof of former service, which can be your release documents or the NDI 75 if you have one, but you may have to work a bit harder if you have misplaced some of your release documentation.
· Finally, spend time on Google before travelling; don’t forget to share the discounts and benefits you find on this blog or on Facebook.