Not necessarily. AMC rules require destinations be listed in alphabetical order. You will find out the exact order of stops and duration of anticipated layovers (if any) when you get to the terminal before the Space-A Roll Call.
IAW AMCI 24-101, Volume 9, firm seat releases must be provided to the passenger terminal no later than 5 hours prior to mission departure and are always subject to change. Seat releases can be reduced at any time for a variety of reasons such as:
- Working/non-working toilets
- Broken seats
- Change of destination
- Hazardous cargo changes
- Non-issue of maintenance waiver
- Zero infant cots
- No Passenger Monitor available on board.
- Pallets of cargo effect the weight but so does how they are strapped down allowing safe egress to the seats.
- When an A/c is refueling it has a certain weight allowance which can limit the seats, but the fact that a wet runway/aircraft is heavier than when flying on a dry day can also cut the number offered.
If the aircraft mission issues a seat release on arrival it's only firm unless any of the above (or other) issues appear.
- Seat releases can also increases due to:
More room and weight available if a piece of cargo can't make the flight
- A leg of the mission is dropped so less fuel is required
- Maintenance issue fixed or waivered to be able to take passengers (or more passengers)
- New crew member is found to serve as a Passenger Monitor
- BWI-Ramstein-BWI (2 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
- BWI-Ramstein-Incirlik-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
- Seattle–Misawa-Osan-Misawa–Seattle (Departs Seattle Sunday and Departs Osan Tuesday)
- Seattle–Yokota-Osan-Yokota–Seattle (Departs Seattle Tuesday and Departs Osan Thursday)
- Seattle–Yokota-Iwakuni-Kadena–Iwakuni-Yokota–Seattle (Departs Seattle Thursday and Departs Kadena Saturday)
- Seattle Patriot Express Schedule Sheet (Nov 11 version but current as of Jan 15) explaining generic schedule and Space-A Roll Call info.
- Norfolk NAS–Jacksonville NAS–Guantanamo–Jacksonville NAS–Norfolk NAS (Every Friday and every other Tuesday)
- Norfolk NAS-Rota-Naples-Souda Bay-Bahrain-Downrange-Bahrain-Souda Bay-Naples-Rota-Norfolk NAS (1 every other week /Varied days)
- Norfolk NAS-Rota-Sigonella–Bahrain–Djibouti–Bahrain–Sigonella–Rota–Norfolk NAS (1 every other week /Varied days)
Lesser known Commercial-contract Missions:
- Travis-Hickam: one per week
- Yokota-Singapore (Paya Lebar): 3 per week
Here's some tools you can use to review "historical" info on flight frequencies and 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.
- Another traveler (jkeaty) has created a Flight Destination Database that can give you an "indication" of past flight routes and frequency based on "past" flight schedules posted at pepperd.com (no guarantees that same routes or frequencies would continue). Jkeaty has created a helpful instructional video for the FDD which is available on the Spacea.net Media Page.
- Richard Sgrignoli's "Space-A Trend Report" is no longer available.
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 online but here are some schedule sources:
- One 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. 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.
- 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 Schedule Links).
- Some Terminals post their 72-hour departure schedules via Facebook - see here for links. I have most/all of those Facebook schedules available on my Passenger Terminal Schedule Feeds - (All or Regional).
- New AMC guidance (April 2015) allows a monthly schedule of commercial charter missions (e.g. Patriot Express (PE) flights) to be posted no earlier than 7 days prior to the following month. The monthly PE schedule will not reveal roll call, or departure times. NOTE: The dates on the monthly schedule are expected "Roll Call" dates and the actual departure could occur the following day (common at BWI) in the case of late night Roll Call times. Flight routes and times will be briefed at scheduled roll calls as depicted on the 72 Hr Forecast. As a reminder, all flights are subject to change without notice. Please continue to follow each location's daily posted 72-hour forecast for updates and planning purposes. You can also pickup or view Patriot Express monthly schedules in person (e.g. at between BWI-Europe, Ramstein-BWI, SeaTac-Japan/Korea, Norfolk, Travis-Hickam ...).
- If you have access to a .mil computer you may be able to look-up OSA schedules.
- 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.
- A word about non Patriot Express "Monthly" schedules and the schedules found in commercial Space-A books. Some commercial publications but don't put too much faith in these schedules and use them as a guide only as they are most likely out-of-date before the book hits the bookstores. 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-EX flight schedules.
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.
SP (Seats Pending): Means that the Pax Terminal cannot determine a seat release because final mission/cargo details are unknown.
TBD (To BE Determined): 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). Some terminals also use "TSR" (Tentative Seats Released).
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.
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. If you are a US citizen or resident (with Green/Alien Card) then this won't apply to you.
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."
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.