What types of military aircraft I may fly on and the seating arrangements?

  • C-5 Galaxy: Common to/from overseas. The AF choice for long haul and the C-5 has pretty good airline type seats (normally 73) facing the rear with little or no windows for passengers. 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. The seat armrests can fold up and you can stretch out across three seats if the flight is not full!  Typical airline type toilet.  Finally, you may have to climb either an internal ladder or external stairs to access the passenger compartment.
  • C-9 Skytrain logistics aircraft:  Not Common.  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:  Common to/from overseas.  Reputation for uncomfortable seats unless it has a seat kit installed. Here's a typical C-17 seat. Also, here's some C-17 travel tips with seat, noise and toilet info.  Super Reliable Plane!  Depending on the mission you can often lay on the floor if you have a sleeping bag and/or air mattress.
  • C-20: Military versions of the Gulfstream III
  • C-21: 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-40: Common on Navy routes.  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: Common within a theater.  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: Common to/from overseas.  My favorite! Smooooth ride but (as of 2013) reliability is unfortunately getting near the C-5.  A very nice plane with better than average airline-type seats. Here's typical KC-10 seatThe KC-10 has airline seats. With out seat kits it can hold up to 14. With seat kits you are looking around 75.
  • KC-135 Stratotanker: Common to/from overseas.  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: Not common.  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)!