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Take Advantage of Space-A Flights
Space-A (space available) flights offer military service members the opportunity to travel for little to no money. These government contracted flights can’t always fill seats so they allow military members and dependants to use this as an opportunity to travel.
Let’s break it down into must follow steps:
1. Determine your edibility. Flights are available for military members, veterans, some DoD employees and family members. Some family members are allowed to travel on their own under the right circumstances (if the service member is deployed for more than 120 days). Contact your local air force terminal to determine your eligibility and for the most up to date information.
2. Determine your travel plans and ensure your local air force base supports it. You can do this through Facebook groups or by calling the terminal directly. We recommend using SpaceA.net as it is the most thorough and complete reference regarding space-a travel we have found. Along with searching for flights, consider staying at DoD Lodging for even better savings.
3. Sign-up! Track your local air force terminal’s Facebook page for flight information. Again, by using SpaceA.net. When signing up, you should also inquire about costs – generally zero but can include a small departure fee for international flights or to purchase food on the flight. You are able to register up to 60 days before, only requiring that you submit (email or fax) your military ID and leave paperwork. Each terminal is different so make sure you ask!
4. Assigned a category ranging from I to VI. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be given a priority based on your individual circumstances. The below outline will give you an idea of how most terminals apply these categories.
- Category I. Active duty service members and their accompanying families traveling on emergency leave.
- Category II. Service members and their accompanying family members traveling on EML. This includes command-sponsored family members who are stationed outside the continental United States.
- Category III. Service members and their accompanying families traveling on ordinary leave or reenlistment leave status, and unaccompanied family members of service members deployed 365 consecutive days or more. This category also includes service members and their families on house-hunting leave.
- Category IV. Unaccompanied family members on EML orders and eligible family members of service members deployed 120 days or more.
- Category V. Students whose sponsor is stationed in Alaska or Hawaii and students enrolled in a trade school within the continental United States when the sponsor is stationed overseas.
- Category VI. Retirees and their accompanying family members. This category also includes Guard and reserve members who are traveling within CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories.
5. Bring all of your required paperwork. Prepare your military ID, copies of leave forms, and passports/visas. This is not an exhaustive list but most terminals require that you bring the aforementioned documents at a minimum.
6. Show up early and prepare for the unexpected. Like most military missions, there are unforeseen issues. These aren’t commercial flights so it helps to manage expectations in customer service or even delayed flights.
Please contact the specific terminal for more information.
Featured image by Ross Parmly