American Airlines Military Baggage Policy & Military Discounts

American Airlines often proclaims their support for the military on Twitter.

But what do they actually do to show their support? It’s this genuine or just something they do because they think it’s good marketing?

This post takes a look at American Airlines Military baggage policies, discount policies and anything else military-related.

Does American Airlines Have Free Bags For The Military?

This is from the AA website:

So active U.S. military and/or dependents with ID traveling on orders get up to 5 free checked bags.

And active U.S. military traveling for personal reasons get up to 3 free checked bags.

But only “active duty” military personnel are included in this offer; veterans are not granted any special baggage privileges.

Another perk that active military personnel gets is Group 1 boarding. This should allow you to be among the first passengers on the plane.

But again it’s only for active military and that’s a sore point for some people:

The free checked luggage also applied to basic economy tickets which at one point in time were so tight they didn’t even include a free carry on bag.

The free carry on luggage on AA basic economy tickets was reinstated, but regular folks need to pay for checked luggage. Active military passengers are able to bring checked luggage without charge.

American Airlines Military Discounts

American Airlines “loves military members” but doesn’t love them enough to offer a military discount. They prefer to support military veterans “at the corporate level”… whatever that means…

Note: AA please contact me about your corporate-level support for military veterans and I’ll be happy to include details in this post.

They do have something called “special military fares” which you can find out about if you call their Reservations hotline.

However, don’t be surprised if these “special military fares” are more expensive than the cheapest tickets for regular folks. I believe this is a major fail for AA in customer relations.

If you want to talk the talk you need to walk the walk. The lack of a military discount from AA could be perceived as them not really standing behind their words.

Check out this debate Devan was having with AA about this issue:

So while these “military fares” are not the cheapest they are flexible with dates. If you have fixed dates then a standard fare might be cheaper than a “special military fare”.

The only American Airlines Military discount that I found was through Veterans Advantage. They currently have a deal with AA to get a 10% discount but there are fees to join the program. You would need to be a regular flyer with AA for it to be worthwhile to join the program.

American Airlines Bereavement Flights

American Airlines don’t offer bereavement fares.

The Verdict

Does American Airlines care about the military?

American Airlines Inc. is a corporation. Corporations don’t have thoughts or feelings about anything. They are fictional legal entities. They are fictional in the sense that while they are recognized by the law to be legal entities or legal persons… they are not really a person.

A corporation can’t care. I’m not just talking about American Airlines, this applies to any corporation.

So while some individual people who work for AA do care about the military the corporation cannot care, even if the advertising says it does.

Someone in the marketing department has decided that it will play well with customers if we are seen to be supporting “our heroes”. So some policies are created that allow them to create a big song and dance about their love for “military heroes”. Maybe the individuals who implemented these policies really do care. But American Airlines the corporation can’t care.

It would be more accurate to say that AA has some policies that provide minor perks to active military passengers. When a corporation says it loves something it should reflect that love with some trading discount.

Corporations are commercial trading entities. They only loving they can do is in the ‘when we say love we mean it’s a discount’ sense of the word love. Because if your marketing is using the word “love” in the sense of “feelings of deep affection” then that’s just not possible.

American Airlines doesn’t offer significant savings for active military passengers. You’ll only save serious cash if you plan of flying with 5 checked bags.

What do you think? Am I being unfair? Do you have any stories about military benefits when flying with AA? Do you think military personnel should get perks? Do AA get it right or should they show more respect to the military?

Let us know in the comments below!

Are Packing Cubes Worth It?

Who remembers Tetris? Today’s post is about the luggage packing equivalent! Yes, it’s packing cubes! And by the end of this post you’ll know whether or not they are going to be worth buying!

There are two types of people in the world…

People who are enthusiastic about packing cubes and people who can’t understand what the fuss is about!

It can be confusing to see people so happy with a product when the benefits are not immediately obvious to you.

You might be asking the wrong question…

The question isn’t “are packing cubes worth it?”, the question is “are packing cubes right for me?”

The answer depends on your personality and the type of travel that you do. Packing cubes are worth it if you have problems that packing cubes solve. If you don’t have these specific problems then packing cubes aren’t going to help you.

Packing cubes are just another packing tool. You wouldn’t ask… “is a spoon worth it?”… a spoon is worth it if you are trying to eat soup. But not the best tool for cutting up a steak.

Packing cubes are the same. They are a tool that helps some packers achieve some goals and are useless for other packers with different problems and goals.

I’ll try my best to talk you through the pros and cons and you can decide if they sound like a good idea for you and how you travel.

Benefits of Packing Cubes

There are three main benefits of packing cubes and reasons that people use them:

  • They help you to compress your clothes to save space
  • They help you to segment and organize your belongings
  • They help you to keep things hidden even when your suitcase is open

Do packing cubes really help?

Compression

If you never have a problem fitting all the things you need in your luggage then you won’t be trying to squeeze things smaller. So the compression aspect of packing cubes just won’t have any upside for you.

On the other hand, if you are an overpacker or someone that needs to take a lot of stuff then you’ll be wondering…

Do packing cubes really save space?

You know when your suitcase is full and you really need to push down on the lid to get the zipper closed?

You don’t need to do that when you’ve used packing cubes.

But that’s because you already did the compressing and squeezing when you packed your cubes.

So yes packing cubes can make more things fit in your luggage. But so can sitting your fat ass on the lid while you are closing the zipper!

But it’s easier to do it with packing cubes. So in that sense they really do help. You also get control over what to compress. You can compress some things where you don’t care about wrinkles (e.g. socks) and don’t put pressure on garments that you hope will stay wrinkle-free.

Packing cubes are worth it if you are someone who sometimes struggles to get your case closed. In particular, you should check out compression packing cubes if saving space is your main goal.

Organization

Also, if you are comfortable with clutter and it doesn’t bother you that all your stuff is just tossed in your luggage then packing cubes won’t fix anything.

Some people love to be organized. It’s their nature. They feel more calm and relaxed when everything has a place and everything is in its place. If this sounds like you then you might like how you can organize your belongings using travel cubes.

In contrast, if clutter or mess doesn’t seem to bother you like it does other people, then you won’t feel that this aspect of packing cubes is worth it for you.

In fact, using packing cubes just makes another problem for you. Because you just created an extra packing task for you. Now it’s more work to pack a suitcase because you don’t just need to pack 1 bag… you’ve got to pack 4 or 5 of bags now!

If you don’t care about clutter and mess then packing cubes won’t solve a problem for you. Although maybe you might enjoy the feeling of being organized if you were just not so lazy!

Privacy

Packing cubes also allow for some privacy. You can open your bag to remove a laptop or something without showing the entire world your holy socks and granny knickers.

If you use hostels or think you might be opening your luggage in public and care about such matters then you might like the privacy of packing cubes.

Downsides Of Packing Cubes

Packing cubes add a little weight to your luggage. If you are carrying your luggage every oz counts. If you use rolling luggage this is a non-issue.

Packing cubes add more zips. You essentially need to open 2 bags to get to the item you want instead of 1. This can be inconvenient and annoying if you’re the type of person who doesn’t really see the benefits. It’s a small price to pay if you are in love with the product.

Cost. Some brands of packing cube are expensive. I personally don’t think you need to go for a packing cube at a high price point. Eagle Creek does make good packing cubes for example but they are not that good!

If you are looking to find a cheaper price don’t be afraid to purchase a newer brand that is pricing lower to try to establish themselves. If you go to page 5 or 6 on the Amazon results you’ll start to see some real bargains and the cost won’t be such a big issue.

The best packing cubes balance price and functionality. There is no need to break the bank of this type of product.

Packing Cube Alternatives

Why use packing cubes if something else will do the same job? There’s more than one way to pack

Compression

Take less stuff! That’s the most simple alternative if you can manage it.

You can also achieve some compression just by rolling your clothes.

You can compress clothes using vacuum space saver bags. The compression that you can achieve with these bags is superior to compression packing cubes. You’ll squash all the air out of your clothes and they’ll take up less space.

The downside with space saver bags is they they are not so durable. They are also more work to pack and it’s inconvenient to take things in and out.

This means they don’t work well for multi-destination trips where you need to repeatedly pack.

Organization

You can organize your things with ziplock bags and rubber bands. There are many cheaper ways to divide your clothes into sections. But then a plastic bag is never going to feel as luxurious as having a dedicated travel cube for packing.

Privacy

You could use your clothes to hide things that you don’t want people to see. Pack the things you need to take out near the top and pack your sex toys right down at the bottom underneath everything ))

The Verdict

Do you like playing Tetris? If you like Tetris you will love packing cubes!

Seriously, I hope this post has helped you decide whether to try packing cubes or not.

For some people they are life-changing and they become enthusiastic advocates of these little cubes.

If you think you might be one of those people then the cost isn’t so high to find out and you should just go for it.

What do you think? Will you give them a try? Did you try them?

Do packing cubes live up to the hype? Let us know in the comments!

Can You Bring Snacks On A Plane?

There are lots of hand luggage rules, but not a lot of rules in the area of snacks.

So yes, you can bring snacks on a plane. The TSA doesn’t have any rules against solid food items and your airline won’t mind you bringing snacks either.

However, I suppose we need to clarify a little because not every snack is solid food. If by any chance your snack is a gel or a liquid then it would need to go in your liquids bag when you pack for your flight.

Let’s take a look at some of the best airplane snacks you can safely take with you when you fly.

TSA Approved Snacks You Can Bring On A Plane

  • Chips
  • Mixed nuts
  • Apple
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit
  • Chocolate
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • M&M’s
  • Oreo
  • Beef jerky
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Rice Cakes

It’s a long list. Even if your candy bar has a gel or cream filling you can take it through airport security. For example, Reece’s Peanut Butter cups are okay to take with you, even if peanut butter in a jar is considered to be a liquid and regulated.

Plane Snacks The TSA Consider To Be Liquids

These snacks fall under the TSA liquids rule.

It doesn’t mean you can’t take these snacks on a plane. It means they need to be in containers smaller than 3.4 oz or (100 ml) and you need to pack then in your plastic quart bag along with your shampoo when you are passing through the security checkpoint.

  • Peanut butter
  • Other nut butter
  • Nutella
  • Jams or Jellys
  • Dips
  • Spreads
  • Oils
  • Salad Dressing
  • Soups
  • Yogurts

if you can pour it, pump it, squeeze it, spread it, smear it, spray it, or spill it, it is considered a liquid and is therefore subject to the 3-1-1 rule.

Usually, that doesn’t apply to snacks. It’s like this:

You can bring an orange, but you can’t bring orange juice. Unless you have a toddler with you.

Airplane Snacks To Avoid Because They Stink And It’s Rude To Other Passengers!

So while you can bring snacks on planes there are some that you might be better to avoid taking because the smell may offend the noses of other passengers.

  • Fish
  • Strong cheese
  • Garlic (it annoys vampires)
  • Eggs

If it reeks do your fellow passengers a favor and don’t eat it during a flight.

The Verdict

You will be fine bringing snacks on a plane. The types of food that most people usually consider as snacks are usually solid and this means there are no restrictions.

Depending on what airline you are flying with you may need to pack your snacks in your carry on or your personal item. Low-cost airlines can be pretty snarky about luggage and if you’ve just bought a plastic bag full of snacks they may see that as part of your luggage allowance.

Full-service carriers won’t blink an eyelid.

Enjoy your flight and I recommend taking some popcorn for during the inflight movie!

Flying With Beer 101: Can You Bring Beer On A Plane?

Sometimes when you are traveling you meet a beer so special you want to bring some home.

Bringing beer home isn’t complicated but there are a few rules you need to be aware of.

This post will have you up in the air and flying with beer in no time at all!

TSA Beer Rules

Beer, as I’m sure you know, is a liquid. So in terms of hand luggage, it needs to follow the liquids rule. Here is the relevant TSA rule about taking beer on planes:

Taking Beer In Carry-On Luggage

You can bring beer in carry-on luggage, but only in really small 3.4 oz mini bottles. In terms of beer 3.4 is about a quarter of a standard 12 oz can.

You can’t easily buy beer in such small bottles. So you can’t really take any significant quantity of beer in carry-on luggage.

While you can technically bring a tiny beer in your plastic quart bag in your carry on it’s not really worth the trouble.

If there is a shop where you can buy beer after airport security you can take that beer on a plane in a plastic carrier bag. But only if you have purchased it after the security checkpoint.

Only JetBlue will actually let you drink your own beer on a plane. If you ask they will be happy to pour it for you.

Taking Beer In Checked Baggage

The only realistic way to bring beer on a plane is by packing it in your checked luggage.

Even exceptionally strong beer is under 24% ABV. This means that you are not restricted to the 5-liter rule in place for stronger alcoholic drinks. As far as the TSA is concerned you can pack as much beer in your checked luggage as you like!

You do need to consider the weight of your bag. Most airlines have weight limits of around 50 lbs. If you pack too much beer in your bag you could easily go over the weight limit and incur an additional fee.

These fees for overweight luggage are pretty high so your beer could end up costing a lot if you get an overweight penalty. Check your luggage with a luggage scale before heading to the airport.

Import Rules When Taking Beer On Planes

If you are flying internationally you need to check the import rules for the country you are landing it.

While you can pack as many beer cans in checked luggage as you can manage you will need to pay duty on that beer if you bring it in the US from another country.

In the US the first liter or alcohol is duty-free. But beyond that, you’ll need to pay import duty.

You need to be over 21 to import alcohol and you need to declare what you are bringing into the country when you land.

The same types of rules apply to other countries.

You need to check the import rules for the country you are visiting and pay the tax on the beer you are bringing.

Often it’s not a lot of money, It’s more just a pain in the ass that you need to do it. You’ll need to really love the beer you are flying with to go through the extra hassle.

Will Beer Cans Explode In Checked Luggage?

No. The cargo hold is pressurized just like the cabin. Your beer cans won’t explode because of air pressure.

However, luggage handlers are not renowned for being the most gentle people. Your beer cans or bottles could be damaged due to handling issues. For example, your suitcase being thrown around.

For this reason, you still need to pack beer carefully in your checked luggage when flying.

How To Pack Beer In Checked Luggage

The most efficient way is to use your clothes as padding. Alternatively, you could wrap your beer in bubble wrap before you pack for your flight.

You should try to keep your bottles or cans in the center of your suitcase. It’s also a good idea to make sure the bottles are not touching each other. Especially if they are glass.

Something like this might be helpful if packing a few bottles of beer:

It’s all about common sense…

If a luggage handler throws a suitcase, beer cans or bottles packed on the outside might take the impact and burst open.

You might want to also pack your beer inside a plastic bag or even a dry bag. This will reduce the chances of your clothes getting wet in the event of a breakage.

Make sure your checked bags are packed so nothing is rattling around inside. Your case should be not overstuffed but also not half full so that the contents roll around inside.

This video gives a great overview of packing beer in luggage:

The Verdict

If you want to fly with beer you need to pack it inside your checked luggage. If you are flying across borders you will probably need to declare your beer when you land and you might need to pay some tax.

Given that checked luggage usually costs more than flying carry-on only. You need a pretty solid reason for flying with beer.

It might be better to consider other ways to get the beer where you want it to go. I would also check online beer retailers and see if they can deliver the beer I want before trying to fly with beer.

Also, consider checked to see if your beer can be transported by courier instead of taking it with you on the plane.

But then I do love to pack light and fly carry on only.

Does A Purse Count As A Carry On?

This is a nice easy question ))

Most airlines still allow you to take 2 bags with you when you board the plane. American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, and most full-service carriers all allow 2 bags.

These are typically called your “carry on” and your “personal item”.

Usually, the rules allow you to take 1 carry on and 1 personal item.

Carry on luggage is usually a maximum size of around 22 x 14 x 9 inches. It’s the big rectangular one with the wheels 🙂

How Big Can A Purse Be On A Plane?

A purse is not considered to be a carry-on. A purse is considered to be a personal item.

A personal item is usually around 18 x 14 x 8 inches, sometimes smaller. It must be small enough to go under the seat in front of you.

Other examples of personal items are briefcases, laptop bags, diaper bags, small backpacks and under seater luggage.

This means that you can bring a purse AND a carry on on a plane. If you have purchased a ticket that includes a carry on.

You probably have purchased a ticket that includes 2 bags but there some flights by budget airlines that do not include a carry on allowance. They only include a personal item allowance.

If your ticket does not include a carry on allowance then you are only permitted 1 personal item.

In this case, you can’t bring a personal under-seat bag and a purse. Your ticket only includes 1 bag so you can’t bring 2 bags.

Examples of this type of fare would be Spirit airlines who don’t include a carry on bag as standard.

Also if you are flying with United and your ticket is Basic Economy that does not include a carry on bag. The United under-seat size is smaller than the others. Your purse or briefcase can only be 17 x 10 x 9 inches.

Also, Frontier Airlines don’t include a carry on for their most basic fare. Their personal item size limit is 18 x 14 x 8 inches.

If you are flying on a cheap ticket that only includes 1 bag… your purse is that 1 bag!

Why Bring A Purse And A Carry On On A Plane?

The reason some budget airlines only allow you the personal item space is because it’s actually quite large. The personal item space is roughly 66% of the full carry on space.

But the size of the personal item space allocated isn’t always realized by everyone.

If you are someone that struggles to fit all your clothes inside your carry on you might want to consider better utilizing your personal item allocation.

Take a look at this graphic. The pink box is the size of the space allocated for carry-on bags and personal item bags (American Airlines).

If you use a typical purse as your personal item you are wasting a lot of space.

If you want to utilize this space you could use a larger bag like a tote bag with a sleeve to attach to your trolley bag.

Of course to do this you would need to pack your purse inside 1 of your 2 bags.

What Can I Carry In My Purse On A Plane?

You can carry the same things in your purse or personal item than you can carry in your carry on.

You can take snacks or chocolate, a tablet, kindle or a book.

The important thing to remembers is that all your liquids need to go inside 1 plastic quart size bag when you are going through security. You can’t have cream make up in your purse and shampoo in your carry on. Not while going through the TSA screening.

After you are through security you can arrange all your items however you like.

For example, if you wanted to keep hand sanitizer in your purse during the flight you could remove it from your carry on and keep it in your purse.

The same goes for liquid or cream makeup. It must be in your quart-size bag during security but afterward, you can put some liquids in your purse and some liquids in your carry on.

Or if you are flying with JetBlue and want to bring your own miniature vodkas you can keep them in your purse too. The JetBlue staff will be happy to pour them for you if you ask!

The Verdict

A purse does not count as a carry on. It’s a personal item.

The personal item size limits are larger than you might realize.

So by taking your purse on the plane you are using a large chunk of your hand luggage allowance.

But it’s your personal item luggage allowance not your carry on luggage allowance…

Assuming your ticket has a carry on luggage allowance in the first place.

See! Not complicated at all!