Department of Defense, Priceline team up to create travel booking site for military
By NANCY TREJOS | USA Today (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 22, 2019
The United States Department of Defense has enlisted the online travel agency Priceline to create a new leisure travel site for current and retired U.S. military personnel.
The new website, American Forces Travel, will give the military community access to hotel, flight, car rental and cruise deals. There will also be negotiated prices on vacation homes, apartments and packages for savings up to 60 percent.
More than 1 million hotel deals will be available in more than 71,000 destinations around the world.
The Department of Defense has about 1.3 million people in active service around the world.
But at launch, American Forces Travel will be open to more than 6.5 million active and retired members of the U.S. military community.
(See the complete eligibility list at the end of the story.)
All five branches of the U.S. armed forces – including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard – will be part of the program. Others who are eligible to become users are Medal of Honor recipients and American Red Cross and USO paid personnel serving outside of the USA.
Department of Defense civilians serving within and outside of the USA will also be able to sign up. Family members of all of these groups will be able to use the site.
First-time users will have to verify their eligibility with the Department of Defense through a secure process.
Previously, employees could use travel agents on military bases to book their leisure travel.
The Department of Defense says it wanted to create an online platform that would be more modern, fast and accessible.
Priceline, which is part of Booking Holdings, was selected after a competitive bidding process among many of the largest online travel agencies.
Priceline will continue to offer “opaque” pricing on hotels, flights and rental cars that can often yield discounts on its own website. But on American Forces Travel, users will not get deals in which they would have to book without knowing the name of the hotel. All travel suppliers on American Forces Travel will be fully disclosed, Priceline says.
Members of the military “have dedicated themselves to service, and deserve our thanks and our respect. To honor that service, we have negotiated deep discounts for personal travel, across flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more," says Brett Keller, CEO of Priceline.
American Forces Travel will also feature “bundled” booking options, which could mean savings of hundreds of dollars. Bundled options combine private rates that are usually only available with packages and that travelers can’t book on their own.
All transactions will generate a commission. The Department of Defense and Priceline would not disclose the commission percentage but said it will be used to support quality of life programs within each service branch.
Such programs include family and youth activities, fitness centers, athletic venues and games, and entertainment programs. Active, Reserve and Guard members, and their families, are eligible to use them.
A portion of commissions will also go toward Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs on military bases. Those programs are used to enhance unit cohesion and improving individual and family readiness for service.
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Who is eligible ...
Authorized Patrons Today:
- All current Active Duty military (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard)
- All members of the Reserve components and National Guard
- All Retired Military, including those in the Reserves and National Guard who are retirement eligible
- All Medal of Honor recipients and 100% disabled veterans
- All Department of Defense civilians serving outside the United States, including appropriated funds (APF) employees and non-appropriated funds (NAF) employees
- American Red Cross and United Service Organizations (USO) paid-personnel currently serving outside the United States
- All eligible family members who are officially sponsored (ID card holder) by patrons in the above categories
Eligible Authorized Patrons Coming Soon:
- All Department of Defense civilians serving within the United States, including appropriated funds employees and non-appropriated funds employees
- All Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) civilians in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), including appropriated and non-appropriated fund employees
- Coast Guard Auxiliary
Note: The on-line eligibility verification process for stateside civilians and Coast Guard Auxiliary is still being developed. In the meantime, we invite civilians to contact their MWR ticket and travel office. As eligible patrons, agents will be able to assist you with your travel needs allowing you to take advantage of the AFT deals as well.