WHAT is Space A?
“Space-A or Space-Available air travel on DoD owned or controlled aircraft. When mission and cargo loads allow, there are often seats made available to eligible passengers. With a little patience and flexibility, you can travel all over the world at almost no cost.” REF: Air Mobility Command
In my personal experience, Space A’ing is an amazing privilege and with the right preparation can be a wonderful experience, not to mention FREE! The BEST flights I have taken have been Space A flights, I look forward to Space A’ing around the world with my husband as retirees! –Kapolea
WHO is permitted to fly Space A?
“Available seats are offered to service members, retirees, certain DoD employees and their eligible family members. Guard and reserve members may also travel Space-A but with restrictions. Eligible family members can travel without their active duty sponsor under certain circumstances, such as Environmental and Morale Leave or when their service member is deployed for more than 120 days.” REF: MilitaryOneSource
Unique to Hawaii and other overseas assignments, Dependents may fly without their sponsors.
…the intent of this program is to afford command sponsored dependents relief from their overseas duty location. Travel is authorized Overseas-CONUS, CONUS-Overseas, and Overseas-Overseas within the same theater. Once your dependent lands in the CONUS, they are no longer authorized to travel Space-A to another destination unless they are manifested on an aircraft that is only transiting the en route CONUS location.” REF: Air Mobility Command
For example: You could fly from JB Hickam-Pearl Harbor into Travis Air Force Base. Unless the flight’s final destination is Lackland Air Force Texas you cannot take another flight from JBHPH to Travis and then on to Lackand. If you’re wanting to get to Texas, you could consider taking any Space A flight to the mainland and then purchasing a commercial flight from there to Texas. In my experience, buying a One way ticket from the mainland to Hawaii, is much less than a round trip ticket or even a one way ticket from Hawaii to the mainland. –Kapolea
Documents You’ll Need:
- All Passengers need their Military ID card (if 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
- Active Duty and their Dependents need their current leave form and/or EML orders as applicable
- Active Duty 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) REF. SpaceA.net
These Letters can be obtained from your spouses Command or Ombudsman. Your Command Sponsored Verification letter is good for 90 days. The date your letter is issued can come into play in regards to making it on a flight. For example: If you and another unaccompanied dependent are both signed up for a flight and there is only one seat, whomever has had the letter first will get the seat. Sample Command Sponsor Letter
- Passports – as required by the foreign destination (some foreign countries require at least 6 months left on a passport) 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. (For Guam you will need either Passports OR Birth Certificates for all persons traveling)
- 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 theDepartment of State Website.
- NOTE: It is YOUR responsibility to verify you have the correct documentation and it’s current for the duration of your trip! REF. SpaceA.net
Signing up for a Space-A flight
In order to fly Space-A, eligible passengers must register (sign up) at the military passenger terminal from which they want to depart. Uniformed service members must be on leave or pass status when they sign up. Registration can be very competitive at some busy terminals, so be sure to sign up as early as you can.
- Passenger registration. You can sign up on the terminal’s register up to 60 days in advance. You may sign up for more than one destination and at more than one terminal. When you sign up, make sure you have your military ID and leave papers (if necessary). Some terminals accept fax or email sign up, but procedures vary by terminal. For contact information on military passenger terminals, visit AMC. When you get to your destination, be sure to register for a return flight.
- Categories. Once registered, you are assigned a passenger category. These categories determine how seats are assigned. Within each category, passengers are prioritized based on the date and time they registered. Available seats are assigned first to Category I passengers, continuing through the categories until all empty seats are filled.
- 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.
- Once you have your letter, email, fax it or drop it off at the terminal you’re wanting to fly out of and include the destination you’re wanting to fly to.
- When you find out there is a flight you’d like to take; either by calling the recorded message or posted on their Facebook page, call or email and request to be put on that list and find out the “Roll Call” time.
- At Roll Call, Park in the long term parking lot or have someone wait to see if you make it on the flight and drive your vehicle home. Arrive fully packed and ready to fly out! If you make roll call, immediately head over the the available fax machine and fax your letter to the terminal you are set to arrive at. This will put you “in line” for a flight back to Hawaii.
- Next you’ll be sent through security and offered a meal purchase. For approx.$4.50 you’ll be given a sandwich, fruit, drink, and a few snacks. Well worth the money in my opinion!
- Once through the gate you’ll wait in the seating area and await and old school bus that will drive you to your aircraft.
- Most Space A flights are military crafts and are the bare bones of what you know of commercial flights. Ear plugs will be handed out, I strongly encourage you to use these, especially for children. I usually rip one in half for my infant. Also, YOU MUST wear closed toe shoes. Once at cruising altitude the crew will let you know that it is ok for you to not only leave your seat, but layout a blanket and stretch out! Many retiree’s bring camping type inflatable mats and sleep very comfortably for the duration of the flight. I highly recommend you bring a sweater, pack baby wipes and/or hand sanitizer.
When flying Space A you must consider the very real possibility that it may be an extended wait until you are able to catch a flight back to Hawaii. You should be fully prepared to purchase a commercial flight back to the island if no flights are available. Many people have “lived” in AMC terminals for days, and even weeks waiting for a flight! Thankfully, most have showers, and a USO that can help with basics.
You MUST be flexible & Prepared .
You are soley responsible for your travel back to Hawaii.
Again, if you have the time and the cash to get yourself back home I highly encourage you to fly Space A! I wish you the best! Please let us know if you’re successful catching a flight! We’d love to hear about it! –Kapolea, 5/30/14
Resourceshttp://www.amc.af.mil/amctravel/amctravelfaqs.asp http://www.spacea.net https://www.facebook.com/HickamAMC?fref=ts https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dirk-Pepperds-Space-a-Message-Board/260712653543