Space-A Travel FAQ-3
About this FAQ
Please email additions/corrections/suggestions etc...to "spacea at spacea dot net" Note: This is an unofficial web page developed as a volunteer service to the military community. The information provided here is based on the contributors' knowledge and experience and every effort is made to keep this info up to date. It is your responsibility to verify everything with current regulations and policy. Some web links may only work from .mil (dot mil) computer systems.
Due to the enormous amounts of info collected since 2006 the FAQ is now contained in three parts:
- Space-A_Travel FAQ: Basic Info: Overview, Regulations, Terminology/Acronyms and Resources
- Space-A Travel FAQ-2: Eligibility, Registration (Signup) Procedures and Dependent Travel
- Space-A Travel FAQ-3: Flight Schedules, Preparation and Miscellaneous
If you find something incorrect or out of date then please send me a correction as your info will help a fellow traveler. Enjoy your journey!
Flight Schedules and Info
What are the Patriot Express Schedule/Routes?
- BWI-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Monday and returns Tuesday)
- BWI-Ramstein-Downrange-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
- BWI-Ramstein-Incirlik-Downrange-Incirlik-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
- BWI-Ramstein-Aviano-Downrange-Aviano-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
- BWI-Jacksonville NAS-Gitmo-Jacksonville NAS-BWI (every-other Tuesday)
- Seattle–Misawa-Osan-Misawa–Seattle (Departs Seattle Sunday)
- Seattle–Yokota-Iwakuni-Kadena–Iwakuni-Yokota–Seattle (Departs Seattle Thursday)
- Seattle–Yokota-Osan-Kunsan-Osan-Yokota (Departs Seattle Tuesday)
- Seattle Patriot Express Schedule Sheet Nov 11 version explaining generic schedule and Space-A Roll Call info.
- Norfolk NAS–Jacksonville NAS–Guantanamo–Jacksonville NAS–Norfolk NAS (every Saturday)
- Norfolk NAS-Lajes-Naples-Souda Bay-Bahrain-Downrange-Bahrain-Souda Bay-Naples-Lajes-Norfolk NAS (1 every other week /Varied days)
- Norfolk NAS-Rota-Sigonella–Bahrain–Downrange–Bahrain–Sigonella–Rota–Norfolk NAS (1 every other week /Varied days)
What are some Typical Flight Routes?
A fellow Space-A Traveler (Craig Hullinger) from Pepperd.com has put together some "typical" route maps. These are based on past/recent info and may or may not indicate future routes so use them as a guide. Craig is also planning to add info from another traveler (jkeaty) who has put together a flight frequency list based on past flight schedules posted at pepperd.com
How do I get other flight schedules and information?
This is one of the most often asked questions. Since the events of 9/11 less and less flight information is being provided in advance. Some (NAS North Island, Kaneohe Bay MCB, Fort Worth and NAS Whidbey Island) schedules are already published on the web (links to the schedules available from the Spacea.net Location Listings). In addition, if you have access to a .mil computer you can look-up OSA schedules. In 2011, AMC relaxed their policy on publishing schedules on the internet; now certain AMC Terminals are sharing schedules via Facebook see here for links. The best way to get schedule information is to phone/visit the terminal and ask the PSAs about their nominal schedules. Typically they will only give you info on flights departing within the next 72 hours. You can pickup Patriot Express monthly schedules in person only. A word about non Patriot Express "Monthly" schedules and the schedules found in commercial Space-A books: some commercial publications and locations such as Travis and Dover may publish a "Monthly" schedule; don't put too much faith in these schedules and use them as a guide only. In other words, don't look at a flight on a particular day of the month and just show-up for that flight expecting it to be exactly on the day on the monthly schedule. If leaving from the major terminals (Dover, Travis) I would just show-up when you're ready to try for a flight as they normally have daily flights (many are unscheduled). Schedules of flights from Air Reserve and Air National Guard bases may be on a more fixed schedule based on crew availability (i.e. weekends etc…). The only schedules that could be deemed "regular" are the Pat-X flight schedules. Finally, Dirk Pepperd's Space-A Board contains a section where volunteers post flight schedules (mostly short notice up to 48 hours out). If you study these regular postings you can get a feel for patterns and frequency of departures from a particular location.
Note: Please keep in mind when phoning for information that many Passenger Terminals are not 24-hour operations so it is best to phone during the core duty hours of 0900-1500. Also, remember to take into account the time zone differences when calling locations such as Europe and the Pacific. In addition, many Reserve and Guard locations may not be manned during the week so it may be difficult to get an actual human on the phone.
Can I travel Space-A from a non military location (e.g. commercial airport)?
The short answer is “Yes” but it’s going to take some detective work and time on your part. First, you probably won’t find any recordings for flight info at these non-military locations. Most of these flights are known as Operational Support Airlift (OSA) and are listed online on the JOSAC web site if you have .mil access and a DoD Common Access Card (not available to retirees).
Here’s the steps you’ll need to take:
1. If you see a flight that interests you then consult www.airnav.com ("Airports" tab using the 4-letter ICAO airport code in the search field). Towards the bottom of that page, you will find a section entitled "FBO, Fuel Providers, and Aircraft Ground Support". FBOs are Fixed Base Operators and they are businesses that handle non-commercial flights (otherwise known as General Aviation (GA) flights). Here's a link to another FBO Locator. Call the FBO's and ask if they handle military flights coming into the airport. Explain to them that you are a member of the military (retired/active or other) and that you are trying to meet up with the plane but that you are unsure which FBO they are coming into. There is usually one FBO at a location that handles the military/government contract on the airport.
2. Once you know which FBO is handling the flight, you will need to make sure you are at the FBO by at least two hours before the flight arrives.
3. Your next hurdle is to find a place to park your car for the duration of your travels.
4. Trek over to the FBO building with your bag (under 30 lb for these small aircraft) and let the FBO staff know you are waiting on a military flight coming in and where it is going to. Ask her/him to alert the crew upon arrival that there is a member of the military in the terminal that would like to speak with them. Also if you see ground personnel walking through the lobby, ask them to alert the flight crew as well. Then get near a window and keep an eye out for a military aircraft. Usually these are going to be small executive transport type planes, so they will somewhat look just like the others out there, with the exception that ours will be marked "U.S. Air Force,NAVY, U.S. Army, etc....
5. Contact the flight crew when they come into the terminal, introduce yourself (Rank, name and branch) and advise them that you would like to catch a ride with them (Space-A). They’ll then let you know if they have room or if there are any other restrictions that prevent you from flying Space-A on that aircraft.
6. It would behoove you to carry a copy of a DD Form 2131 (flight manifest form) with you when flying just in case the flight crew does not have one with them. Technically they can refuse to take you because they don't have a manifest form.
What do the terms "T", "F" and "SP" mean regarding seats in the flight schedules?
- SP (Seats Pending): Means that the Pax Terminal cannot determine a seat release because final mission/cargo details are unknown.
- T (Tentative): Means mission/cargo details are planned but factors remain where the actual number of seats can not be finalized i.e. fuel weight, weather en route or even maintenance. The number could change (up or down).
- F (Firm): Means that all factors are known and the seat release is solid. However, due to changing mission purposes, flights and seats are always subject to change without notice.
For example: 0T means zero seats tentative, 10F means 10 seats firm etc.... don't count on these predictions as gospel as things can (and do) change at the last minute just prior to showtime and/or roll call.
Note: All the above numbers are after duty pax and cargo have been considered.
Some flight schedules from OCONUS locations to CONUS show flights labeled "No First Time Entry." What does this mean?
If you are a US citizen with a US passport or a non-US citizen that is already living in the USA on an alien card then this does not apply to you. If you are immigrating (i.e. moving/relocating) to the USA for the first time then it does apply to you. A classic example of this would be non-US citizens that have married a military member stationed overseas.
Some flight schedules from OCONUS locations to CONUS show flights labeled "Active Duty Only." What does this mean?
It means just that - Active Duty Only. The reason is that the flight's destination does not have a customs agent available and active duty are not required to clear customs. This means retirees, dependents or civilians etc... can't travel if the flight is listed as "Active Duty Only."
Why do I often see 19 seats listed on the flight schedules?
Current AMCI rules require that a pallet position be left open as needed to accommodate passenger baggage if there are 20 or more passengers. Therefore 20 or more passengers would mean (at least) one less pallet position available for mission cargo. Therefore, for planning purposes, 19 seats are normally listed in advance and adjusted as needed nearer flight time depending on required mission cargo. AMC is considering removing the requirement to allow units the flexibility to decide when a baggage pallet may or may not be needed based on available space on the aircraft and the number of bags.
Preparation for and during the Space-A Flight
What documentation do I need?
- Military ID card (if eligible to have one) for all travelers (10 years of age and over)
- Dependents less than 10 years old without a Military ID must have proof of age e.g. Birth Cert, Passport or other Govt-issued ID
- Copy of current leave form and/or EML orders as applicable
- DD Form 1853 signed by Commander or First Sergeant for Active Reservist/Guardsmen (not on Active Duty over 30 days)
- Passports - as required by the foreign destination you plan to visit or transit based on your citizenship/nationality. Active duty dependents stationed overseas should use their issued "No-Fee/Official Passport" when returning to the overseas station. If stationed CONUS active duty and dependents are prohibited from using their issued "No-Fee/Official" passport for non-official business.
Does your passport reflect your legal name? If you have changed your name (e.g. recent marriage) you may use your marriage certificate or court documents to “prove” the difference of names on your passport and Identification Cards. However, it is highly recommended you update your passport as soon as the name change occurs. For more info consult the Department of State Website.
Unaccompanied dependents must have one of the following letters (signed by sponsor's Commander):
- Unaccompanied Command Sponsored Dependent Verification(copy is OK)
- Unaccompanied Non-Command Sponsored Dependent Verification (copy is OK)
- Unaccompanied Dependent of Deployed Military Member Verification (copy is OK)
NOTE: It is YOUR responsibility to verify you have the correct documentation and it's current for the duration of your trip (some foreign countries require at least 6 months left on a passport).
I am assigned overseas. Can I use my no-fee Passport for Space-A?
(As of 2012): This topic is not unique to Space-A but comes up all the time. Historically there have been two camps in this debate - Camp #1 insist that using a no-fee passport for leisure travel is OK as they have traveled to/from USA in the past without any issues. Camp #2 has a hissy fit when someone mentions using a no-fee passport for leisure travel. The answer isn't totally clear cut so let's see what the facts are.
The Department of State "No-Fee" Passport web site states:
"You may use your no-fee passport book only when traveling overseas in discharge of your official duties. For personal travel, you must to use a regular fee passport book or card. You may have both a valid regular passport book and a valid no-fee passport book at the same time."
That's fairly definitive unless one argues that traveling between your assigned overseas duty location and the the USA is considered "official duties."
Most/all no fee passports also contain an endorsement stamp that states:
"This passport is valid only for use in connection with the bearer's residence abroad as a dependent of a member of the American military or Naval forces on active duty outside the United States." This is a little less definitive and one could argue that traveling between your assigned overseas duty location and the the USA is "in connection with the bearer's residence abroad."
So, if a border control agent for a country other than the one where you are assigned reads that endorsement then they can deny a traveler access to their country or detain you to find out what "official military business" you have in their country. If the countries you are using the no-fee passport to enter are the USA and your assigned country (e.g. Germany) then the border control agent should have no problem with the no-fee passport and explains why folks in Camp #1 have not experienced any issues traveling back and forth to the USA (e.g. Space-A from Ramstein to BWI).
Now, let's look at the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG) (Manual) - this is the document Passenger Service Agents normally use to determine if your border clearance documents are valid. In December 2011 the language in the FCG was revised to clarify this issue. The FCG now states:
"Service members and their eligible family members stationed abroad and issued no-fee passports may use these passports for incidental personal travel during the period of their overseas assignment. While outside the United States, no-fee passports may be used for incidental personal travel between foreign destinations providing the foreign government concerned accepts no-fee passports for personal travel. If the foreign government does not accept no-fee passports for personal travel, travelers must obtain regular fee passports at their own expense." The FCG defines "Incidental Travel" to be: "Travel DoD-sponsored travelers for purposes other than in the discharge of U.S. Government business." For example, France REQUIRES a Tourist Passport (as of 2012) and you could be fined for using a no-fee for leisure travel.
Normally, transit of a country by travelers that do not exit the airport transit area (immigration control) do not require a passport or visa for that country. However, some countries (i.e., Russia, China, etc.) require both a passport and a transit visa. Refer to the Entry/Exit requirements listed on the various Dept of State Country Pages and the FCG to determine what documents /passports/visas are required for each country.
So, based on the latest revision of the FCG, what travelers have experienced and my own experience here's my "unofficial" view/opinion/recommendations etc....
- Go ahead and get a regular Tourist Passport. If you are going to do any sort of traveling while overseas then it is probably going to be required to legally visit places like France, England etc.... The passport will be good for 10 years (adults) and you'll be able to use it for overseas travel after your overseas duty assignment. Bring both passports with you when you travel (I do).
- If you refuse (or can't afford) to get a Tourist Passport then, according to the Dec 11 version of the FCG incidental travel (directly between your assigned duty location and the USA (e.g. Ramstein to USA)) is authorized. If you try to travel (Space-A) through another country (England, Spain etc...) or if your flight gets diverted en-route to another country you "could" run into problems.
Once I'm manifested on a flight, can I be "bumped" and forced to give up my seat?
According to the regulations, "Space-Available passengers will not be removed in favor of other Space-Available passengers (same or better category)." So, this means, once you are manifested, (again, per the regulations) you should not lose your seat (at the originating or en-route station) to another Space-A passenger. That's not to say it won't happen so it behooves you to know the rules. However, you're not entirely safe once you are manifested. When necessary, Space-A passengers can be removed at the originating or en-route stations to accommodate Space-Required passenger/cargo. The order of selection for removal will begin with the lowest priority passenger with the latest date/time of sign-up as reflected on the manifest. If bumped and you choose to continue travel to your specified destination, you shall will compete again for seats with your original date/time of sign-up. For a full description of these rules, consult Air Mobility Command Instruction 24-101 Vol 14. Bottom line, regulations say you can't be "bumped" for another Space-A passenger but you can get bumped for duty/medevac pax or high priority (e.g. hazardous) cargo.
What types of military aircraft I may fly on and the seating arrangements?
C-5 Galaxy: The AF choice for long haul and the C-5 has pretty good airline type seats (normally 73) facing the rear. C-5s have a reputation for always being broke! Stay away from sitting by the stairs, it can get cold. Also keep away from the bathroom, it can get stinky and warm. Here's a view inside a C-5 and a typical C5 seat. Finally, you may have to climb either an internal ladder or external stairs to access the passenger compartment.
C-9 Skytrain logistics aircraft - The Navy and Marine Corps C-9 aircraft provide cargo and passenger transportation. Air Force C-9s have been used for medical evacuation, passenger transportation, and special missions. See the Tips for traveling on Navy C-9s under the C-40 section below.
C-17 Globemaster: Reputation for uncomfortable seats unless it has a seat kit installed. Here's a typical C-17 seat. Super Reliable Plane!
C-20: Military versions of the Gulfstream III
C-21A: Basically a Learjet, very reliable; the cream of the crop. Makes you feel like you have your own Learjet but limited on luggage space (keep your bag under 30lbs!)
C-37A: Mostly out of MacDill and Andrews AFBs
C-38: Used primarily out of Andrews AFB for operational support and distinguished visitor transport.
C-40A: Basically a Boeing 737-700.
- Tip #1: On Navy C-9s and C-40s , the Navy cabin crew will run extension cords down the aisle so that passengers can plug into ac power. If you plan ahead and bring a power strip, your device (e.g. laptop) gets priority.
- Tip #2: Navy C-9s and C-40s offer only soft drinks and pogey-bait (snacks) for a modest price and it's rare passengers will be offered the chance to buy a box-lunch. If you plan ahead you may be able to use the small oven (not micro-wave) to heat things. Clean up your own mess!
C-130 Hercules: Slow, noisy but you can stretch out and sleep if there is enough room. The toilets on some C-130s are not very private; basically a porta potty behind a screen. Almost always sidewall seats unless configured for a DV (distinguished visitor). If configured for DVs, it'll have a decent private toilet. Very reliable and almost never breaks. Cold Plane most of the time and noisy (they will issue ear plugs). Here's a typical C-130 seat (known as a "web" seat).
KC-10A Extender: My favorite! Smooooth ride and super reliable (unlike the C-5) just like its commercial sister (the DC-10). A very nice plane with better than average airline-type seats. Here's typical KC-10 seat.
KC-135 Stratotanker: Nice plane with different seat configurations. On the KCs (tankers) you may get to watch the in flight refueling if they have one (great experience for the kids!). The "A" model is loud, pretty much always sidewall seats and a fairly reliable aircraft. Dress in layers (good advice for most flights but especially true on this one as your head area can be roasting hot and your feet area freezing (literally) cold!). Here's a view of KC-135 seats (web seats).
UC-35A: Basically an Off-the-shelf (COTS) Cessna Citation 560 used for executive and priority cargo. Here's a UC-35 picture, the UC-35 interior layout and a picture showing the UC-35 seats (Very nice!).
Bottom Line: Except for Patriot Express aircraft and C-5s you can never tell what configuration the seating will be until you actually get on the plane. Which plane is best? The one you can get a seat on (for free)!
Are the aircraft climate-controlled?
Patriot Express Flights or the executive type passenger aircraft are (just like commercial aircraft). Temperatures on military cargo aircraft can vary greatly (especially the KC-135) so it's good advice to layer your clothing to account for cold and hot environments.
How many bags am I allowed to bring and are there any Security restrictions?
In general, passengers on large aircraft (including Patriot Express) are authorized to check two pieces of baggage not to exceed 70 pounds each (140 pounds total) and 62 linear inches (the sum of the length plus the width plus the height). Single items exceeding 70 pounds and/or 62 linear inches will be counted as two pieces and, therefore, fulfill the allowance for a passenger. Passengers on administrative support airlift (C-21, C-12) are limited to 30 pounds TOTAL baggage weight (includes hand-carried luggage) and the weight limit for USN' C-40 aircraft is 50 pounds (2 pieces). On other than administrative support airlift (C-21, C-12) each passenger is permitted to hand-carry one article (small luggage, garment bags, backpack, etc. no larger than 45 linear inches) and one personal item (cosmetic case, purse, briefcase, small boxes, packages, etc.) for storage in the passenger cabin area. The weight of these items will not be considered as part of the passenger's baggage authorization on larger military aircraft (AMCI needs to be clarified on this). In addition, infant car seats and fold up type strollers do not count against the passenger’s normal baggage allowance. All hand-carried baggage will be weighed on all commercial contracted missions (e.g. the Pat-Ex). Families traveling together may pool their baggage.
""Note: on smaller aircraft, baggage bulk versus weight is normally the issue as the luggage compartments are fairly small.""
HINT: If you pack under 30 lbs you increase your odds of getting a seat on smaller aircraft. For a full description of baggage rules, consult Air Mobility Command Instruction 24-101 Vol 14 (Section I "Baggage Services" and Para 68.6 "Hand-Carried Baggage"). Bicycles, golf clubs, surf boards etc.... are allowed as an item of baggage as long as they comply to the above weight and physical dimension restrictions.
In addition to any prohibited items covered in the AMCI, Space-A passengers must adhere to the same security measures used by commercial aircraft. All AMC-owned and operated terminals will comply with the screening changes implemented by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
""Note: On most military cargo flights, "checked" bags are usually strapped down on a couple of pallets in the cargo bay close to where you are sitting but you are not allowed access to your checked bags during flight.""
Will I be "served" food on a Space-A flight or can I purchase food?
On Patriot Express flights, you'll be served a typical commercial airline meal that is provided free as part of the flight. Alcoholic drinks cost extra. On "normal" military cargo flights from Air Force bases, you're normally given the option of purchasing a box lunch for about $4.55 (exact change (cash) is appreciated by the Pax rep although they may accept personal checks or credit cards if the capability exists). The box lunch will usually contain 1-2 sandwiches, a soda, fruit, snack bar and chips (or some combination of all these and more). I used to split a box lunch between two children as there is usually a fair amount of food in one. In addition, there is normally a cooler of water and some small snacks the crew makes available. Wise travelers will be prepared with their own snacks and drinks in case you are not offered the box lunch option or you are rushed on to a flight so be prepared! Checkout some of the box lunches prepared at various locations at the "box nasties" web site. On Navy flights plan to bring your own food/snacks as they may not have box lunches available.
I'm traveling with small children. What tips can you offer?
- Infant Life Preservers (LPU-6/P): Most aircraft will have a limited number of infant life preservers (commonly known as "infant cots") in case of an in-flight emergency over water. If the infant cot capability is maxed out then any further passengers with infants can't be manifested (get seats) on that flight (doesn't happen often, but it does happen so be prepared). Per regs the LPU-6/P Infant Cot is limited to infants 18 months of age or less and up to 30 lbs (AFI 11-2AE Volume 3, AEROMEDICAL EVACUATION (AE) OPERATIONS PROCEDURES) but I'm told AMC uses 35 lbs as the limit.
- Infant Car Seats: They are not mandatory, however, AMC encourages children be restrained in car seats. IAW FAA Directives, booster seats, harnesses, and child restraint vests shall not be used. Most travelers will find a car seat useful especially with the web seating on some cargo flights. In addition, if you need to rent a car to get to/from your Space-A departure/arrival points a child seat may be needed to comply with local laws.
- Strollers: Strollers are checked as part of your baggage. Infant car seats and fold up type strollers do not count against the passenger’s normal baggage allowance.
- Infant Milk, Juice: TSA rules have been relaxed for breast milk, formula and juices - volumes in excess of the standard 3 ounces for liquids need to be declared before the security checkpoint. See this TSA page for info. Juices and water are normally available on AMC aircraft so powder formula is allowed and recommended.
Here's some specific items and suggestions provided by a mom:
- Head phones
- Strap to attach carseat to luggage
- Umbrella stroller
- Umbrella stroller bag
- Macks earplugs (have as back-up) and sock hat
- Horizon Milk (does not need to be refrigerated) and snacks
What should I wear during the flight? Do I need to wear my uniform?
Each service has its own rules – USAF does not require you to wear the uniform. However, the DoD Reg requires ROTC (and equivalent) cadets to wear their uniform when traveling Space-A. Speaking of uniforms you should be aware of the dress code. Clothing with slogans or containing vulgarity, shorts, revealing clothing, any clothing item that depicts desecration of the flag, tank or tube tops, or other inappropriate clothing will get you turned away from Space A travel. ""LAYER your clothing"", as you never know what the temperature will be on the different aircraft or you could even get diverted (small chance) to a warmer/colder climate than your intended destination. Plan to wear common-sense closed toe footwear (open-toed sandals, flip flops, narrow-heel shoes or high heels are ""NOT ALLOWED" on the cargo aircraft but are allowed on Patriot Express aircraft); some passengers have been denied boarding due to improper footwear. If manifested on a C-5, you may have to climb up a ladder stairs and open-toed shoes or high heels are not safe if you have to exit quickly in an emergency. Did I mention to ""LAYER your clothing"" (don't say I didn't warn you!
In addition, because of the nature of AMC’s cargo missions, chains and tie-down straps that secure the cargo to the pallet and aircraft flooring pose a hazard to your feet, if not protected. As a result, Vibram FiveFinger Footwear are prohibited from being worn on AMC cargo aircraft.
What are the noise levels on the various aircraft and what can I do to mitigate noise?
Aircraft used for Patriot Express flights are similar to commercial passenger aircraft with similar noise levels. Military cargo aircraft can have higher noise levels (e.g. C-130). Foam-type Ear plugs are normally distributed by the air crew but it's advisable to bring your own in case. Noise levels on smaller aircraft (e.g. C-21 Learjet Type) should be less than cargo aircraft. Since you may not be able to predict the type of aircraft you’ll get a seat on you may want to be prepared with some ear plugs such as Macks Ear Plugs or Peltor Ear Muffs (suggested by other Space-A travelers with young children).
Why do some missions limit the amount of passengers and depart with empty seats?
Good question and the answer (a factor of crew availability and loaded cargo) lies in the USAF Instructions Series 11 (Flying Operations). As an example, a C-5 can accommodate 73 folks in the passenger compartment but some flights may depart with only 19 passengers. Other factors could include type (security) of cargo or availability of adequate safety equipment but the main reasons for seat limitations are listed below for the more common aircraft:
- C-5: Cargo (not crew) limitation. 20 passengers and above requires an open pallet position for passenger baggage. Therefore, if there is a full cargo load then the 73-passenger compartment is limited to 19 passengers.
- C-17: Crew limitation. Above 40 passengers requires an additional crew member.
- KC-10: Crew limitation. Above 40 passengers requires an additional crew member.
- KC-135: Crew limitation. Above 10 passengers requires an additional crew member.
I have a wheelchair - can I bring it?
Mobility assist equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, etc., don't count against your baggage allowance. However, mobility assist equipment exceeding 100 pounds are not be accepted.
I'm selected for a flight and the PSA wants to know my "Final Destination." What is this and what do I do?
I'm selected for a flight and the PSA wants to know my "Final Destination." What is this and what do I do? Think of the "Final Destination" as the furthest place you want to travel away from the place you are first selected for a flight.
For example, let's say you've been signed up at Dover for a long time (55 days for a retired Space-A traveler) and Dover is the only place you have signed up (if you were smart you would have also signed up at all nearby departure points such as Andrews, BWI, McGuire etc.. as well). But, let's say you weren't smart and you just signed up at Dover. You desire transportation to Aviano, Italy so Aviano is going to be your "final destination." The only flights leaving Dover are going to Ramstein AB, Germany. You're selected for the Ramstein flight and during check-in the PSA will ask you for your "final destination." You smile and say "Aviano, Italy please!" If all goes well, the PSA won't even blink and he/she will present you with an AMC Form 148 (aka a Boarding Pass) with "Aviano" listed as your destination (even though the mission you have been selected for is only going as far as Ramstein. Do not leave the Space-A counter unless Aviano is listed on your boarding pass as the destination! If necessary, refer the nice PSA to the Space-A regulations (DoD 4515.13-R Paragraph C22.214.171.124 or Air Mobility Command Instruction 24-101 Vol 14, Para 11.8 that states: "Passengers will retain their original date/time of sign-up from the point of origin to the final destination, provided they are continuing to geographically move to their declared final destination. Ensure the passenger's final destination is annotated on the boarding pass."
If you don't follow the above process then you will arrive at Ramstein and you will have to re-signup for space-a travel from Ramstein to Aviano (in other words your 55-day seniority as a Cat-VI will now be a zero-day seniority!). If you follow the above process then, upon presentation of your boarding pass at Ramstein's Pax desk the PSA "should" register you in their system with the same 55-day signup seniority (probably 56 days now!). Again, if they don't, refer them to the regulations.
This process works no matter how many different missions you take or how many locations you pass through (as long as you are "continuing to move to your declared final destination"). In other words, you can't take a week touring Germany (or other locations) enroute. This process has worked for me even going in opposite directions (e.g. "going east to go west"). Once, I had a hard time getting out of Mildenhall, UK to Dover so I took a flight to Germany with "Dover" listed as my "final destination" and then was selected for a flight from Ramstein to Dover based on my Mildenhall date/time group signup (I wasn't signed up at Ramstein). Here's an example of what your boarding pass should look like. In this example, you'll see Dover was mistakenly entered when I departed Mildenhall and I had to have the PAX rep annotate it with the correct "final destination" of Travis so I would retain my signup priority when the mission terminated at Dover. To be safe, ensure the computer system prints your final destination on your boarding pass as written entries may not be accepted everywhere. If you get a Pax Rep who says the system can't print your Final Destination on the boarding pass or it's not allowed then ask for a senior Pax Rep as the system and regs allow it. Knowledge is power.
When is the best time to travel?
As a general rule, anytime school is out (including the DoDDS Schools overseas) is a BAD time to travel - more so overseas than within CONUS. Why? Because you'll compete with Cat-IIIs taking trips with 3-4 dependents in tow sucking up all the seats. That's not saying a Cat-VI can't get out of places like Dover in the heat of the summer. Timing is everything so it can happen. If you're Cat-V or Cat-VI it's going to be harder for you to get seats during DoD school breaks and even a few weeks prior and after the scheduled breaks. If you need some proof then take a look at Ramstein's passenger movement for 2012. Notice the spikes in traffic that correlate with Summer and Winter school breaks? If you're Cat-III then you've got as good a chance as everyone else. If you're not tied to school breaks then it would be best to travel "off peak" to maximize "your chances." Finally, don't forget about lodging availability. Some bases have an active Guard/Reserve unit and therefore you should try to avoid "drill weekends." When the Guard/Reserve personnel come on base to train, accommodations are often completely booked! A simple call to the base lodging reservation desk would help you identify the best timing for lodging availability. For current and future DoDDS calendars see the DoDEA School Calendar link listed in the "Newbie" section at the start of the FAQ. Keep in mind that many families may take their kids out of school earlier than the last day of school and return after the first day of school so take the calendar dates with a grain of salt.
Is Space-A really free?
Yes and No. At this point in your life you should now know that nothing is really "free." In general, there is no charge for air fare on military aircraft. However, on the chartered (Patriot Express) flights there is usually a small charge ($16-$30 per person) to cover airport, customs and immigration fees. Patriot Express fees are made up of two parts: an International Air Transportation Tax ("head tax") of $16.10 per person and a Federal Inspection Fee (FIS) of $13 per person. Both fees apply coming to the CONUS from OCONUS (the FIS does not apply on flights from CONUS to OCONUS). If you travel on a Patriot Express flight from OCONUS to OCONUS (e.g. Aviano to Ramstein) then there are no charges. Prepare to pay the Pat-ex charges in cash (US$) (although some locations will accept and encourage credit cards), exact change is appreciated and your payment is good for the whole route in a particular direction (i.e. east or west).
What are my chances of getting seats on a particular flight and how long will I have to wait?
This is probably the #1 question asked by folks new to Space-A. Your specific"chances" depend on two key variables: the number of available seats versus the number of folks competing for available seats on a particular flight. Those two key variables are not known until "the "roll call" so anybody that predicts one's specific"chances" in advance is only guessing.
The only prediction of "chances" one can make is your relative "chances." A higher Category traveler (e.g. Cat-I) has better "chances" than a lower Category (e.g. Cat-VI) and the longer you are signed up gives you better "chances" than someone signed up less days within your Category.
Your chances are Zero if you are not "travel ready" at the terminal. Your chances are Zero if you are spending down-time between "scheduled" flights at home, billeting, the BX, Burger King, library, bowling alley or some other location. Your chances increase when kids are in school versus when kids are out of school and traveling with their families. Your chances increase if you are "travel ready" at the terminal and wait for a flight. Your chances are better if you travel light (baggage under 30 lbs) as it makes you eligible for ALL types of aircraft. So, in summary, your chances are affected by the following variables:
- number of flights to your destination
- number of Space-A seats on those flights
- number of people ahead of you trying for the flight
- number of seats you need (1 is better than 6!)
- seniority of your signup date in your particular category
- time of year (summer and non-school periods are the worst)
- amount of time you're prepared to tolerate (i.e. burning leave) waiting for a flight in the terminal (and not at Burger King!)
- amount of legs (different flights) you're willing to take to get from A to B
- type of aircraft you're willing to fly on
- weight of your baggage (under 30lbs enables you to compete for more types of aircraft)
- your willingness to take a flight to a less popular location e.g. McConnell versus Dover
Your chances will improve the more you know the rules, methods and timing of sign-up, perseverance, patience and timing or travel.
Can I travel Space-A to Australia or New Zealand?
Yes. There may be 1-2 flights per month (as of February 2013) from Travis AFB to RAAF Base Richmond (near Sydney). Occasionally, flights return to the US from Richmond via Christchurch, NZ. Normally, these flights have few seats available, so while possible, it is difficult to get on the run to Richmond; however, returning from Richmond to the USA is often easier. Since Australia is difficult to get to using Space-A your best opportunity is to fly Space-A from Travis-Yokota, take another hop from Yokota to Singapore and then use commercial air from Singapore to Darwin (about $50 one way) or Perth (about $200 one way). Alternatively, if your destination is Sydney or its environs then check fares on JETSTAR Airlines from Honolulu to Sydney (just under $400 one way). The above prices are as of October 2007 so verify the above before you travel. All foreigners entering Australia are required to obtain visas Australia Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). In addition, upon leaving Australia you must pay $55 AUD cash (as of March 2013) to its Customs and Border agents.
Can I fly Space-A to Shannon Ireland?
Some flights do stop in Shannon en route to/from Europe but you may not be allowed to deplane (except for a secure part of the terminal for in-transit passengers). Historically, Pat-Ex passengers will not be manifested to Shannon. Some passengers on USN flights have had some luck manifesting to Shannon (but it's rare). If the flight is going to RON at Shannon then Crew and Pax will have to clear Republic of Ireland's Immigration and Customs.
Can I travel Space-A on the same plane with my sponsor when he/she is going TDY?
If you are eligible for command or non-command sponsored status then you can "try" to get a seat on the same flight your sponsor is booked on but there are no guarantees. You are on your own as an unaccompanied dependent and you must abide by all the rules for unaccompanied dependent travel. You may get to your sponsor's TDY destination on the same plane but there's no guarantee you'll return on the same plane as your sponsor (i.e. you may get stranded at the TDY location).
My sponsor is TDY. Can I travel Space-A to visit my sponsor at his/her TDY location or rendezvous with them at some other location?
Sorry, no (unless your travel is authorized under command sponsorship eligibility).
I have an emergency and need to get somewhere quick. What are my options?
If it's really an emergency (life or death) then probably your best (quickest) option is going to travel on a commercial airline. However, if you must use Space-A travel then the local installation commander may upgrade your category priority (to no higher than the bottom of the CAT-I) for emergency or extreme humanitarian reasons when the facts provided (validated by a competent and formal authority such as American Red Cross notification, unit commander’s memo, doctor’s letter, or by some other similar means) fully support such an exception (authority may be delegated the to no lower than the Chief of the Passenger Service Center or its equivalent). The upgrade period is limited to one week. and valid to the specified destination; passengers use their original authorized category of travel for return trip. Ref DoD DoD 4515.13-R, C126.96.36.199 and AMCI AMCI24-101V14, 12.8.1
What is the significance of references to a "Red Bandanna"
Some Space-A passengers will wear or tie a red bandanna to their carry-on luggage to signify that they participate in the pepperd.com message board. There's no guarantee that someone displaying a red bandanna is a fellow internet Space-A "expert" but you'll never know unless you approach them and introduce yourself!
Space-A Myths: "Someone (or a friend) told me that..."
Myth: If your spouse is deployed, you can get special permission to have someone who isn't military to fly with you. Answer: False
Do yourself a favor and don't take any Space-A advice from the above folks (friends) that told you any of the above!!
One more question - How do I ---?
To most people, Space-A travel ranks right up there with Public Speaking - everyone is afraid of doing it the first time. Much of this fear comes from lack of knowledge and the unpredictability of flights. The more you learn about Space-A travel the less fear you will have. Research all the references in the links at the beginning of this page. I guarantee that 95% of the questions can be answered from those sources (yes, I know, it's easier to ask it on the Space-A Message Forums but you'll learn more doing your own research). I can't speak for everyone but I learned by reading the regs, one of the available books and the by "Doing It" (the Internet, E-mail and the Space-A Message Boards didn't exist when I started)! Actually doing a Space-A trip is the real teacher and don't be surprised if you learn some hard lessons your first time out! On the other hand, your first experience may be a pleasant one where everything goes as planned.In that respect "Space-A is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get!" I'd recommend taking a "dry-run" trip or if you're near a PAX terminal go visit and hang out for a day and talk to some of the folks waiting for flights. Following the tips in this FAQ and experiencing the Space-A environment by visiting a Pax terminal will help to reduce some of the apprehension you may have! Good Luck and see you in the terminal!!
How do I access all my Space-A files and documents while I'm traveling?
Simple, get a FREE Dropbox account. Dropbox is software that syncs your files online and across your computers. Save your files into your Dropbox folder on one computer, and they'll automatically appear on any of your other computers that also have Dropbox installed (Windows, Mac, and Linux too!). You get 2GB storage space for free and you can access your saved files from any computer anywhere in the world.