Reviving and updating some helpful tips for the travel holidays this year! This time, we went to the “source” and asked parents on the Facebook groups what tips they would share for holiday travel for their cadets. Here are a few.
Remember that the most important tip is to simply enjoy the ride! Whether you run into complications or have a smooth sail, this whole USAFA experience is unique and wonderful. Enjoy every moment you get with your cadet and marvel at the wonderful man or woman you see them growing into. They sacrifice so much to achieve these wild dreams of theirs!
Tips for Trips!
- “Know which airlines support the military offering discounts on flights and bags and allow cadets to change flights/times at no cost.” I’ve heard really good reviews of Southwest and Delta and really awful reviews of Frontier. Take that for what it’s worth.
- “The use of USO lounges is a nice perk. These are available in certain airports for military members and offer snacks, comfortable seating, reading material and more. Denver airport has one!” https://www.uso.org/locations
- Another vote for USO! “Look for USO lounges at the airports. They are especially helpful if cadets find themselves arriving early for their flights (due to carpooling, etc) or if they have time between connecting flights; Remember, they aren't open over night, but they can trust that their stuff won't walk away if they take a nap. I always tell my cadet to put some $$ in the jar to help with the operating expenses. It's just calmer than the stress of the terminal if you have to wait there for a long time.”
- “Empower your cadet to do as much of the travel logistics as possible. They are adults now, support them as they grow into this new role.”
- “Make sure they allow plenty of travel time to and from the airport. Denver can be very busy at times.”
- “If by chance the AIRLINE CHANGES/CANCELS the ticketed flight....you are allowed to change it to something else that works better for you AT NO CHARGE (at least with DELTA). This happened to our DS last year...they cancelled his flight and rescheduled it to something VERY inconvenient....”
- “Nobody ever talked her about the Falcon Ride and it's a great ride for cadets to go, not only to DIA, but anywhere they want to go.” Falcon Ride is an app that many cadets have. They link up each other to share rides to and from places all over. It’s super useful!
- “One way tickets are easier to change than round trip. Also can use another airlines if a flight is cheaper than departing airline. Flexibility is key!” Another plug for Southwest here. We’ve had to change a couple of times, and once they know it’s a military traveler, they make the change with no hassle or fees.
- “Greyhound bus can be an option for some cadets verse flying.”
- “Register as a ‘known passenger’ with your CAC card and skip the long security lines.” This will give the cadet a TSA pre-check notice on their boarding pass. They can go right into he TSA precheck line and skip the longer line through security. If you don’t set this up ahead of time (when you buy the ticket), you can also bring your CAC to the ticketing counter when you check in, and they can reissue your boarding pass with that service on it. This is especially useful if you are coming to or from a big, busy airport! You know how those lines can get!
- “Don’t forget about the Denver RTD rail. There is a station at Lincoln and I-25 that is closer if they need to have someone pick them up or drop off. Or you can go to the Peoria station and parks your car and rides the rail to DIA. Parking is $4/24 hours and the rail is free for active military.” http://www.rtd-denver.com/lightrail.shtml
- “Baggage fees are often waived for active duty.”
- “There’s is a stranded airman’s Facebook page. Help is just around the corner. Just let the group know!” https://www.facebook.com/groups/1435780436652657/
- “We [the USAFA Parent Resource Facebook Group] have a ‘Stranded Cadet in Need of Help’ spreadsheet with parents who have volunteered to help cadets in a bind.” If you subscribe to the USAFA Parent Resource group https://www.facebook.com/groups/229767567187985/ you can find the file in the Files section (or just ask!).
- Saving the best for last! “If you have time, every trip should begin with a visit to your Mom. If that can't happen, call and send photos before being asked ”