What is American Forces Travel?
- American Forces Travel is a new site launched with Priceline that offers discounted travel prices to military service members and their dependents and honorably discharged veterans.
- Despite there being many unofficial sites that boast discounted travel prices for military, AFT is the ONLY official joint service owned leisure travel service for the military community.
- Priceline.com, a company with over 20 years of online travel expertise, won out the opportunity to sponsor AFT over other travel discount sites in a competitive bidding process.
- AFT was launched as an initiative by five military branches of service and the Office of the Secretary of Defense to provide a modernized, streamlined method for booking travel and vacation packages for the military community. Previously, most non-official travel for military had been orchestrated through base tickets and tour offices; AFT provides a platform where military members can search for special travel deals online.
What Sets American Forces Travel Apart From Other Discount Sites?
- AFT boasts up to 60% savings on more than a million hotel deals in more than 76,000 destinations worldwide.
- AFT offers reduced fees for reservation changes and all flights cancellable within 24 hours. With AFT, there is also free cancellation on post-paid cars as well as cancellation discounts for pre-paid rates.
- AFT offers 24/7 customer support.
- There is a commission that goes towards military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation services and military quality of life programs with each transaction on the AFT site.
- Although Priceline.com offers similar discounts and deals for the general public, Priceline has a special team dedicated to the AFT site to search for the best prices specifically for military members.
- Priceline offers the same lowest price guarantee on AFT as it does on its main site. If a better price or deal is found for any travel arrangements within 24 hours of booking, Priceline will refund 100% of the price difference.
Who is Eligible to Use American Forces Travel?
- Active duty and dependents
- Full-benefit retirees and dependents
- 100% disabled veterans and dependents
- Honorably discharged veterans
- Medal of Honor recipients and dependents
- American Red Cross and USA-paid personnel serving outside of the US and dependents
- DOD civilians
How Do I Sign Up To Use American Forces Travel?
- Visit the American Forces Travel site.
- Select the “Get Started” link from the main page.
- You will be prompted to verify your military status by providing your last name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your social security number.
- This information does not go through Priceline but is verified against a DOD database.
- Login information is not captured or retained in any way.
What Types of Discounts Does American Forces Travel Offer?
- Travel packages
- AFT hopes to also offer discounts on theme parks and other attractions at a future date
Does American Forces Travel Really Deliver Discounts to the Military Community?
A review done by Military.com of the American Forces Travel site uncovered that on travel to San Diego, hotel deals ranging $20-$50 dollars less than prices found on regular travel discount sites and $10-$18 off per day for vehicle rentals. According to the same review, a round-trip Alaska Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. to San Diego for one February weekend was $354, while on American Forces Travel the same round-trip flight was only $323. However, non-stop flights for the same weekend could be purchased on United Airlines for $200-$400 less on a travel discount site other than AFT.
Discounts on hotels seems to vary by season and by room type. For example, a cursory search on AFT for hotels in Seattle, WA during the month of August showed variance in discounted prices when compared to prices on other discount travel sites, ranging from prices on AFT being $10-$20 higher than to $10-$30 lower than on other travel sites. It did seem that there were better discounts on searches for double occupancy rooms than on searches for rooms for more than two people, which could signify that when looking for hotels, AFT offers better discounts for groups travelling with less people as opposed to families with children or larger groups.
Discounts on automobile rentals also vary by auto type and rental by day or by week. Cruise prices also appear to vary based on season or berthing type.
In short, there is probably still no substitute for doing the research when one is looking for good deals on travel. AFT probably does offer significant discounts for military members but not necessarily on every travel item nor in every circumstance, so it is still important to search for deals and discounts using various resources.
It’s important to consider, too, that AFT launched only within the past few months and still has plans to expand its scope and improve its services. It would be well worth providing further analysis after the site has been up and running for a year or two.
At the very least American Forces Travel puts another discount travel booking tool in the back pockets of military members and their dependents and can be considered a legitimate means to secure the best price for all leisure travel needs.