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Military Space A Travel FAQ
Section - 5. Other Questions

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5.1) Can I get bumped from a flight I'm already on?

Yes, although it's relatively rare.  Space required passengers or
cargo may require the removal of Space A passengers at any point.  But
mission details are usually known before departure, so the crew won't
release seats that they expect to become unavailable part of the way
there.  Some types of flights, notably Areomedical Evacuation
(Medevac) missions do experience frequent changes, though, so you
might want to ask about this before accepting a specific flight if you
are the last person to get a seat because you would be the first to be
removed.  If you are removed en route, you may re-register with your
original date and time of registration.  Passenger terminals will
assign a new date and time to any country you change or add on your
application at this point, though, so having that fifth one be "all"
is a really good idea.  And, at the risk of beating a dead horse, you
should always be prepared to purchase onward or return commercial
transportation, meals and lodging.

5.2) What if I don't get on any flight before I need to be at my
destination?

While you are not guaranteed a flight in the time frame you may wish,
passenger terminals generally do their best to make available every
possible seat.  In case you must get to a final destination before
they can get you there, you will need funds to complete your journey
or return home.  

5.3) How much baggage can I bring?

On the larger aircraft, each passenger may check two pieces of checked
baggage, 70 pounds each, up to 62 linear inches in size.  Family
members may pool their baggage allowances, but Space A passengers may
not pay for excess baggage.  Hand-carried baggage must fit under the
seat or in the overhead compartment, if one is available.  Smaller
aircraft may limit you to as little as 30 pounds of baggage, and
hand-carried baggage may be included in this limit.  Since many of the
available flights are on these smaller aircraft (C-21 or C-12, for
example) you should limit your baggage to 30 pounds if at all
possible.  You'll thank me for this advice when you discover that it's
a 2 mile walk from the terminal to the billeting office :-) Of course,
you should not place valuables, medicine, or important documents in
checked baggage, and you should be sure your name and current address
are on both the outside and inside of your bags.  Passenger terminals
usually have baggage ID tags available if you need them.

5.4) Do I have to be in uniform to travel?

Each service determines their own policy on this.  Currently all
services except the Marine Corps permit appropriate civilian attire to
be worn by their active duty and reserve personnel when traveling on
DoD-owned or controlled aircraft.  This matter is up to each service,
however, and the Marines still require their members to wear a
uniform.  When civilian clothing is worn, use common sense.  Attire
should be in good taste and not in conflict with accepted attire in
the overseas county of departure, transit, or destination.  Some
services are quite specific about this.  Tattered or revealing
clothing or T-shirts with risque slogans are a particularly bad idea,
and some passenger terminals will not allow you to board a plane
wearing shorts.  One Navy terminal, for example, requires that
passengers wear a shirt with a collar (or the equivalent for women),
long pants or a skirt, and shoes with closed toes.  Be sure to pack
some sensible clothes so that you can meet any reasonable requirements
that might be imposed.

5.5) Where can I fly into when coming back from overseas?

While you may depart the United States from any airfield, reentry
locations are sometimes limited.  When traveling on a passport (family
members, retired personnel, etc.) you may return to the United States
only through authorized ports of entry where customs and immigration
clearance is available.  Active duty passengers who do not require
immigration clearance have more reentry options open.  The Air Force
is working to increase the number of places at which reenter the
country.

5.6) Can I bring my pet on a Space A flight?

No.  

5.7) What facilities are available at passenger terminals?

Facilities at most military terminals are similar to those that you
would find at smaller commercial terminals.  Examples include
television sets, snack bars, exchange mini-marts, barber shops,
travelers assistance, baggage lockers or rooms, United Services
Organization (USO) lounges and nurseries.  The facilities vary
according to the terminal size and location, and it may be as simple
as a couple of chairs near the pilots' flight planning room!

5.8) Can I sleep in the terminal?

Almost certainly not.  Most passenger terminals close at night, and
most of the rest have rules against sleeping in the terminal.  So you
should be prepared to defray lodging expenses at any overnight stops.
The relatively low price of on-base billeting ($4 to $40 per night)
makes this less of a burden than it might first appear, though.  At
Air Force Bases you can reserve rooms the day before (if you know
where you will be), but at other bases billeting offices often won't
release their available rooms to travelers who are not on orders until
a specified "Space A show time."  Some billeting offices will put you
on a standby list by phone, though, so it's wise to call ahead to
learn the rules at any bases you plan to visit.

5.9) What are the trends in the availability of Space A travel?  

A couple of years ago the Air Forceestablished an project to improve
Space A travel in an effort to improve the quality of life for
military families.  But movement still depends on the number of unused
seats.  The dramatic reductions in the DoD budget in recent years have
reduced both the number of eligible people and the number of flights.
Actually, the reductions in the number of transport aircraft have been
relatively small over this period, and an increasing number of
within-theater flights overseas are being flown by CONUS-based crews.
So some overseas destinations are actually easier to reach from CONUS
than they were before the drawdown started.  A number of domestic
bases have been closed, but most major metropolitan areas still have
at least one military airfield nearby.  In some cases this
consolidation has actually made Space A easier by reducing the need to
travel from one base to another to catch a continuing flight.  All in
all, it's a mixed picture.  The bottom line is that if you know what
you're doing, you can usually get where you want to go.

5.10) What is the best time of the year to travel Space A ?

In general it is wise to avoid peak travel periods when traveling
overseas if possible because the number of dependents traveling, often
with a quite high priority (PCS or EML), is highest then.  The peak
travel periods are December-January and June-July, which roughly
correspond to school holidays when there are a lot of travelers on
leave.  There are also more PCS travelers on the AMC passenger channel
missions during the summer because people prefer to move when their
children are between school years.  Domestic routes see less
fluctuation in volume, but it is usually more difficult to travel
during three day weekends (weekends followed by Monday holidays, for
example) and near holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas because
there are fewer missions scheduled then but more people with some time
off who might want to catch a flight.

5.11) Is it easier to go to some destinations?

Yes.  Places where large numbers of U.S. military forces are stationed
are much easier to get to than rarely visited areas.  Travel to Europe
or Japan is relatively easy, for example, while travel to South
America or Africa is much more difficult.  Infrequent flights to
remote areas are often cargo missions, which may have few seats
available for passenger movement.  But with persistence it is amazing
where you can get.

5.12) Do you have any other tips for Traveling Space A?

Of course!  Plan your trip, be flexible and be patient.  As a rule of
thumb, military bases offer more Space A flights than commercial
gateways or Reserve Component squadrons at civilian airfields, but
the advance planning made possible by charter schedules and Reserve
Component employment plans that are known months in advance may make
those locations a good place to start a trip.  Be as flexible as
possible in choosing a destination.  For example, if you want to get
to Germany, consider a flight into the United Kingdom as an
alternative.  Once there, try for another flight bound for Germany.

5.13) What if I have a problem?

If something does not meet your expectations or if you have a question
or suggestion that can't be resolved by the people you are dealing
with, you should ask to speak with the passenger terminal supervisor
(or their equivalent at smaller bases).  At AMC terminals you can also
use AMC Form 253, Air Passenger Comment, to bring your concerns to the
attention of the terminal supervisor.

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM