If you are traveling this summer, you may feel like you are pulling out a debit card every time you turn around. However, as a federal employee, you should know that among the wide array of benefits connected to your employment, including federal disability retirement benefits, is the number of discounts available to you.
You should look for these discounts online when making reservations this summer vacation season and get into the habit of asking about them everywhere you go.
Below, we have rounded up a few of the perks available to you as a federal employee. Note: There may be a catch here and there. For example, some companies collect e-mail addresses as a means of marketing to you. But you can always opt out of that mailing list at a later time.
Jet Blue has a General Services Administration (GSA) contract to provide negotiated rates to federal employees in certain markets. The airline can match other airlines’ government rates in other markets. Jet Blue also has special military rates for active duty service personnel and their immediate family (spouses or children). You can also check with your favorite airline directly. American Airlines, for example, offers military and government discounts on some flights with its U.S. Airways subsidiary.
All of the major chains such as Alamo, Enterprise, Dollar, National, Avis, Budget and Hertz offer discounts for federal employees, including members of the military. The discounts are not always so easy to find on their websites. You may need to make a phone call and ask.
Hotels and Motels
Most major hotel and motel chains offer discounts for federal workers. As you reserve a room online, look for a drop-down “status” menu where you can identify yourself as a government employee or look for a “government rate.” Even though FedRooms should only be used to book official travel, it can be used to research individual companies’ programs.
This FedSmith article states that “quite a few restaurants,” especially chain restaurants, provide discounts on food for federal employees who ask about them. Here is a list of 20 chain restaurants that offer military and federal employee discounts, according to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Upstate New York.
Current U.S. military members and the dependents of deployed military personnel can get a free annual pass to national parks and many other federal recreation sites. Ask for one at the entrance to any site if you can show them your military ID (CAC Card or DoD Form 1173). For one full year, the pass is good for free admission at any site that charges entrance or standard amenity fees, including thousands of outdoor recreation sites operated by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, is offering four-day Military Promotional Tickets for active military members and retirees through September 30, which are good until October 3. They cost $177 plus tax, which is a significant discount from the standard price of $305 plus tax. You can buy up to six. The Park Hopper option is included, allowing access to all four Florida Disney theme parks each day. Kings Dominion, in Richmond, Virginia, also offers a discount to active duty military and retirees on single-day general admission tickets. Check with your favorite theme park.
Say “hey there” to Yogi Bear and his military discounts of 10 to 15 percent on campsites (and cabins at some sites) at more than 45 parks across the country and in Nova Scotia. Many parks also host “Hero Weekends” with special activities and offers to military and first-responders.
A cruise is not so much a summer vacation, but summer is time to plan a fall or winter cruise to warmer climes. You can go through the individual cruise lines’ websites or work with FedCruise.com, which says it has saved thousands of federal government employees tens of thousands of dollars on cruise vacations since starting the site in 2010.
As you seek out discounts for federal employees, be sure to compare the deal to the perks you can get through other programs you may belong to such as AAA or AARP. There are also several federal employee travel clubs, which offer packages and deals to members that may suit your needs.
The most important thing to do is to remember to ask. You may be surprised to see how a company will go out of its way to provide a federal employee discount.