Space-A FAQ: Answers to your Questions

About this FAQ

About this FAQ's Pages and FAQ are unofficial web pages developed as a volunteer service to the members of the uniformed services/military community. The information provided has been compiled since 2001 from online forums, individual contributions, websites and personal knowledge and is based on the contributors' knowledge and experience.  Every effort is made to keep this info up to date. It is your responsibility to verify everything with current regulations and policy before you travel.

Due to the enormous amounts of info collected since 2006 the FAQ is now contained in multiple parts in the following sections:

  • Overview, Regulations, Terminology/Acronyms and Resources
  • Eligibility, Registration (Signup) Procedures and Dependent Travel
  • Flight Schedules, Flight Preparation and Miscellaneous

Please email additions/corrections/suggestions as your info will help a fellow traveler.

Enjoy your journey!

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Who’s Who in the Online Space-A Zoo?

 Here's a little history of the initial pioneers of "Space-A on the Internet."

  • Mid 1990s: message board was born. Created by Dirk Pepperd (then Active Duty Army and now retired).
  • Mid 1990s: A Space-A FAQ maintained by Doug Oard was hosted on some Veteran’s Newsgroups on the blossoming World Wide Web.
  • Late 1990s: Roy Buckman (Ret USA) started a discussion forum similar to at In addition, Roy created the initial online signup service.
  • Late 1990s-2001: Doug Ourd’s FAQ became outdated as new Space-A policies appeared so John D. created the “Space-A FAQ” (as we know it today). Roy Buckman hosted the Space-A FAQ on his web site.
  • Spring 2003: Vandals, spammers and hackers prompted Dirk to move to a “members only” discussion board (the format Dirk just transitioned from).
  • May 2005: Roy Buckman passes away suddenly leaving the future of his web site in limbo.
  • Summer 2005: Military Living vowed to continue Roy Buckman’s website (as a tribute to Roy). However, little effort went into continuing Roy Buckman’s legacy and Roy's forum and signup service ceased to exist. Roy's web site only continued as a commercial front for Military Living’s business to market their Space-A publications.
  • Summer 2005: Since Roy Buckman’s signup service was no longer being kept updated by Military Living, Rob G. stepped up to fill the void and created Rob G made several improvements over the initial concept such as allowing one to signup for up to 5 locations at once. Rob also added a fax capability for locations that did not accept email signups and mobile apps in 2012.
  • Fall 2005: Since was now being used to market commercial publications, John D. decided to host the Space-A FAQ on it’s own new web site and was born. Since that time, has grown to more than a FAQ and now includes helpful links and location pages with detailed info helpful to any Space-A traveler.
  • June 2010: After 7 years, Dirk moves the discussion forum to the current Forum.

My dates may be a little off but you should get the gist of it and I hope it clears things up a little!

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How do I get started?
  • FIRST!!!! - determine your eligibility for Space-A travel.  If you are not eleeligi for Space-A then there is no point in reading further.  If you are eligible then continue and you need to.......
  • SIGN-UP: Once you are authorised to travel (retiree, started your AD leave or have your signed dependent travel letter) you register ("signup") at the locations you plan to initiate travel from (both coming and going). Some terminals have a web form you can fill out to register (see the Space-A Location Listings). You can also sign-up (register) in person, by email or fax. Note, you are not "signing-up" for a particular flight and you do not make flight "reservations!" When you sign-up you go on "the list" (at that location only) and you compete for flights based on your priority on "the list" within your category. When the PSA receives your "sign-up request" they assign you a date/time based on the Julian date calendar and Zulu time your sign-up was received. Your sign-up time determines your position/priority within each Space-A Category.
  • SHOW UP: Once signed-up, no one is going to contact you so you'll have to decide where you want to depart from (e.g. Dover, McGuire etc….) based on predicted departures. It helps to phone the terminal you think you want to depart from and/or monitor their recording (flight departures) to get a feel for possible destinations. As soon as you physically arrive at a location check in with the folks at the Pax desk to see if you are listed on the Space-A register with the correct date/time/seats (some locations print a list daily for review). If something is not correct with your registration then fix it! Declare yourself "Present" for the next 24 hours and let the Pax rep know that you want to be included in the Roll Call for any flights heading to/towards your intended destination.
  • GIDDY-UP: Now that you're at the terminal the adventure begins. You're next step is be physically present at the terminal, check-in with the Pax Reps to mark yourself "present" and be travel-ready (luggage, dependents and proper paperwork in-hand and car parked) for the "show-time" and subsequent "Roll Call" of the particular flight you'd like to be manifested on. I recommend you arrrive at least an hour prio to a Roll Call to allow time to get marked "Present" and be "Travel Ready."  If you make the cut at the flight Roll Call you'll be manifested and on your way! Prospective passengers will be selected (manifested) during the "Roll Call" based on priority of category and signup date/time starting with Category-I (CAT-I) through CAT-VI.
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Does the Policy or Rules for Space-A ever change?

Space-A policy and rules are constantly being evaluated and have evolved over the years. I try very hard to keep abreast of changes and constantly update the FAQ and associated information.  Here's a list of changes that have occurred over the years:

  • Fees no longer required for departures from "military locations on military aircraft" (used to be $10 per person from more active locations such as Dover, McGuire, Ramstein)
  • No longer have to wear uniform while flying Space-A
  • Signup now can be done remotely
  • Advance schedules no longer available on public web sites
  • Aircraft types no longer available on public web sites
  • JOSAC/OSA schedules no longer available to public (restricted to .mil with account)
  • Roll Call "Schedule" now available on the internet
  • Roll Call Reports now available on internet
  • Command Sponsored Dependents allowed to Space-A unaccompanied
  • Non-Command Sponsored Dependents allowed to Space-A unaccompanied
  • Dependents with Deployed Sponsors allowed to Space-A unaccompanied (2007)
  • Dependents can accompany their sponsor within CONUS
  • Must be marked "Present" to take part in a Space-A Roll Call
  • Signup duration changed from 45 days to 60 days (AMC and some other locations)
  • Virtual Roll Call available for some missions at select locations
  • Command Sponsored Dependent and Non-Command Sponsored Dependents letters now valid for 90 days (versus 60)
  • Patriot Express monthly departure projections now posted on public web sites (2015)
  • Dependents with sponsors deployed 30 days or more (2015)
  • DoD Reg revised from 1994 version:  Signup duration listed as 60 days (2016)

These are just the ones that I can remember off the top of my head.

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Space-A Basics

I am totally new to space-a travel. In brief, what is it?

The Space-Available travel program is a travel benefit that allows authorized passengers to occupy DoD aircraft seats that are surplus after all space-required passengers and cargo have been accommodated. Space-A travel is allowed on a non-mission interference basis only. Space-available travel is a privilege (not an entitlement) available to Uniformed Services members and their dependents. The majority of Space-A flights are offered by the Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC) or the Navy and Space-A seats are normally free (there is a tax charged for AMC's Patriot Express flights). The most common destinations are in many parts of the USA (including Hawaii and Alaska), Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Japan, and South Korea. Less frequent destinations (some very rare) could include South and Central America, Africa, and Australia. Usually, the best time to obtain a seat(s) is when dependent children are in school. For more details, read on!

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What are "Categories? (CATs)"

Basically, your travel status "category" is your priority. There are six categories (CAT-I thru CAT-VI). CAT-I is highest priority (first to get offered a Space-A seat) and CAT VI is the lowest Category (last to get offered a Space-A seat after CAT I thru CAT V). A GENERIC explanation of each category is:

  • CAT I: Emergency Leave Unfunded Travel

NOTE: Any Space-a passenger (including retirees) "may be" (no guarantees) upgraded by the local installation Commander (often delegated to the Chief of the Passenger Service) to no higher than the bottom of CAT-I for leave under emergency conditions (unfunded) or extreme humanitarian reasons when validated by competent and formal authority such as American Red Cross notification, unit Commander’s memo, doctor’s letter, or other evidence. Emergency upgrade period for initial departure is usually limited to one week. Passengers will maintain the origin station upgrade until they reach the emergency destination; on return, passengers will return to their original Category.

  • CAT II: EML (Active Duty and their accompanied dependents)
  • CAT III: Active Duty Ordinary Leave (including Terminal Leave) and accompanied dependents,, House Hunting Permissive TDY, Medal of Honor Holders, dependents of deployed service members whose sponsor is deployed 365 consecutive days or more (selected behind active duty members regardless of date/time of sign up)
  • CAT IV: Unaccompanied Dependents on EML or dependents whose sponsor is deployed between (and including) 30 to 364 consecutive days and DoDDS Teachers on EML During Summer
  • CAT V: Unaccompanied Command Sponsored and Non-Command Sponsored Dependents of Active Duty, Permissive TDY (Non house Hunting), Students
  • CAT VI: Retired and their accompanied Dependents, Reserve, ROTC, NUPOC, and CEC

If you are a dependent (sponsor stationed in CONUS and not deployed) then you are not eligible for UNACCOMPANIED Space-A Travel (except overseas for emeregncy) and therefore no Space-A Category). If you're not clear what category you are in you can find a more complete explanation of each category in DoDI 4515.13, Section 4, Table 3.

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How do I declare myself "Present"?

According to the regs, you can mark yourself "Present?" at anytime "within" 24 hours (some terminals that offer Virtual Roll Calls are 20 hours) prior to a Space-A Roll Call.  The time you get marked "Present" is not a factor in the Space-A selection process so around an hour prior to Roll Call is usually sufficient time to get settled before a Roll Call.  To mark yourself "Present" you need to arrive at the terminal with all travel documents (including your passengers) and proceed to the Passenger Service Desk and they will mark you "present."  Once marked "Present" you'll be added to the Present List and then can compete for seats at the Space-A Roll Call for flights heading to your desired destination.  If unsuccessful and your name falls off the "Present" List you'll need to get marked "present" again.  Some locations purge their "Present" List at midnight so make sure you inquire about their local policy.

NOTE:  November 2016:  AMC no longer allows passengers to mark themselves "Present" remotely The test locations were Kadena, Charleston, McGuire, Spangdahlem, and Ramstein.   Virtual Roll Call is still available at certain locations.

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What is CONUS, OCONUS and Overseas and why do I care?
  • CONUS = The 48 CONtiguous States and the District of Columbia or "the lower 48, as they're affectionately known to the Alaskans."
  • OCONUS = Outside Continental United States
  • Overseas = Any country or place beyond the CONUS. Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories are considered overseas under the Space-A Regulation.

Some folks use the terms OCONUS and Overseas interchangeably but the above are the official definitions.

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What is a "command-sponsored and non-command sponsored dependent?"

A COMMAND-SPONSORED Dependent is a Dependent residing with a member at an OCONUS location at which an accompanied-by-dependents tour is authorized, the member is authorized to serve that tour, and who is authorized by the appropriate authority to be at the member's Permanent Duty Station. If you are stationed in the CONUS with your sponsor then you are NOT a command sponsored dependent. If your sponsor gets "deployed" OCONUS then that does NOT make you a command sponsored dependent. Here is a sample Command Sponsor Letter. A Non-COMMAND-SPONSORED Dependent is a dependent prohibited from traveling to overseas commands at Government expense. In other words, you are not on your sponsor's PCS orders to an OCONUS location (e.g. Korea). Here is a sample Non-Command Sponsor Letter.

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What is EML and how can we get it?
  • EML is Environmental Morale Leave. In certain OVERSEAS locations, living conditions are such that leave must be taken in a more suitable geographic and cultural environment to accomplish its stated purpose. EML provides a means of expeditious travel for members (and Command-Sponsored Dependents) from an EML location to a suitable EML destination. Designation of an EML location cannot be based on adverse economic or cultural conditions alone. EML is not intended to compensate sponsors and their families for the high cost of living overseas, language barrier, or cultural differences. DODI 1327.06 is the DoD reg the governs EML.
  • The Pacific Command EML Program Document contains a list of authorized locations and here is the Pacific Command EML form used: USPACOM FORM 505/3 EF (07-10).
  • The European Command EML Program Document contains a list of authorized locations and here is the European Command EML form used: EU FORM 1501.01. As of 2017, CONUS may no longer be an approved destination for Unfunded EML.  See this announcement and check the current EUCOM regulations or your assigned command to verify EML eligibility.
  • Unfunded EML qualifies the sponsor (and accompanied dependents) for Space-A Cat-II (sponsor) or Cat-IV (unaccompanied dependents) and is only valid to and from the first authorized EML destination (e.g. CONUS) actually reached. Space-A travel beyond the first authorized EML destination (e.g. from western CONUS to eastern CONUS) to subsequent destinations would be as a Cat-III (Active Duty alone or with dependents). Unaccompanied dependents traveling as CAT-IV cannot travel within CONUS (unless manifested on continuing missions within CONUS as outlined under the FAQ "Eligibility" section). Return to the original EML location from the authorized EML destination is in the original EML Category (CAT-II or CAT-IV). The traveler can signup for Space-A on or after the EML start/effective date (listed on their EML form).
  • Government Civilians (e.g. DoD Teachers) and their dependents stationed at certain overseas locations might be authorized EML and travel Space-A to authorized EML destinations as outlined in the documents above.
  • WARNING:  Some locations (e.g. Osan) may require a Command Sponsored Space-A Letter IN ADDITION to the EML Form for unaccompanied dependents so it behooves you to have both.
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What the heck is the "Patriot Express" (sometimes referred to as a "rotator"?")

That's Air Mobility Command's name for its commercial charter flights. Other nicknames/Acronyms for the Patriot Express are Pat-eX, PE, rotator or "Freedonm Bird" (to some old-timers).    AMC contracts a certain number of seats on charters with commercial carriers because it is an economical, efficient way of moving large numbers of personnel where they need to go. Charter seats not filled by official fliers are assigned for a small fee (Head Tax and Inspection Fees) to Space-Available travelers. The process for signing up for Space-A travel is the same as other military flights. Patriot Express flights have the usual commercial airline amenities. The flights are at least equal to the commercial economy class and, in some cases, a bit better. For instance, travelers on some flights can expect hot towels, free movies and headsets, and more leg room than found on most commercial airlines. West coast Patriot Express flights depart and arrive via Seattle-Tacoma International (SeaTac) Airport to Kadena, Yokota, Iwakuni and Misawa (also Yokota-Singapore).

East coast Patriot Express departures depart and arrive via Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport and Norfolk NAS to Europe (Germany, Italy, Azores, Greece and Spain). For further information on the Patriot Express, read through the AMC Patriot Express Brochure. Note: The Patriot Express was reduced several years ago and as a result Atlanta IAP, Los Angeles, Rhein-Main AB, and RAF Mildenhall are no longer used as Patriot Express departure points. See the Patriot Express News Articles for more info on the history. Don't despair fellow Space-A travelers, even though Patriot Express flights have been reduced opportunities for space-A travel still exist on military aircraft to/from the usual military bases.

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What is an AMCGRAM?
  • Some Passenger Terminals (the good ones) publish, post and keep current a fact sheet called an "AMCGRAM." The AMCGRAM provides helpful info about that particular location such terminal hours, long-term parking instructions, contact numbers for local lodging, rental cars and other amenities
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What is "Show Time"?

"Show Time" is the time prior to scheduled aircraft departure that the terminal Passenger Service reps may start the roll call for manifesting (assigning Space-A seats). "Show Time" is usually 2 to 3 hours prior to departure. At, or sometime after the "Show Time", the Pax reps will do a "Roll Call" for the flight. "Show Times" can, and often do, change and may occur earlier than advertised so arrive early at the terminal!! NOTE 1: You must declare yourself "Present" (in person) to the passenger service reps at the terminal "within" 24 hours prior to the roll call of the flight you'd like to be manifested on. This is also a good time to verify your signup date/time is properly entered into the system. Declaring yourself "Present" lets the Pax reps know the number of people "actively" seeking a flight. When you declare yourself "Present" you are merely telling the Pax Reps that you have physically arrived at the terminal and you would like your name included in all the roll calls for your destination in the next 24 hours. Shortly before the show time, the Pax reps will post a list of those "Present" showing you exactly where you stand in the pecking order for that flight. If you fail to mark yourself "Present" and you physically show up for a roll call then you'll have to wait until all other Space-Available passengers marked present at the beginning of the roll call have been afforded the opportunity to compete for the open seats. If seats remain, the Pax reps will begin a new roll call starting with Category-I and then you will have a shot at remaining seats. NOTE 2: The above process may or may not be followed at ALL terminals. According to the reg, all space-available passengers competing for a seat must be ""marked present"" (in the computer system) at the beginning of roll call. Therefore, you need to check-in with the Passenger Service Reps at upon arrival at the terminal to declare yourself "Present" prior to a roll call on the day on the day of travel. Best advice is to show up an hour or two before a flight's show time and ensure you are "marked present."

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What is "Roll Call"?
  • The phrases "Roll Call" and "Show Time" are often used interchangeably because "Roll Call" can occur at "Show Time." A "Roll Call" for a flight can occur at, or sometime after, "Show Time." "Roll Call" is a phrase used to signify the beginning of the process in which eligible passengers in each category are selected by date and time of sign-up. ALL Space-Available passengers competing for a seat must be listed on the "Present List" and, expect for a Virtual Roll Call (VRC) be physically present at the beginning of the "Roll Call." The standard goal for AMC flights is to have the Roll Call no earlier than 2 hours and 20 minutes prior to scheduled departure time. Category-I, Space-Available passengers will be considered for any flight currently being processed even if the Space-Available roll call has already begun (roll call time passed) regardless of the current category being selected.
  • To start the "Roll Call", the PSA starts "calling" each Space-A category on the "Present List" beginning with Category I (Cat-I) and works down the list to CAT-VI until all available seats are filled. All Cat-1 personnel present will be manifested, then all Cat-2, then all Cat-3 and so on through Cat-6. Within each Category the seats are filled based on your date/time signup priority. If you are not present when your name is called, you will be passed over and seats offered to next on the list.
  • Some KEY POINTS regarding the Roll Call Process:
    1. Space-A passengers shall not be removed for other Space-A passengers.
    2. If the category/date/time of a Space-Available passenger has been passed, that passenger must wait until all other Space-Available passengers present at the beginning of the roll call have been afforded the opportunity to compete for the open seats. If seats remain and time permits, the PSA will begin a new Roll Call.
    3. If a mission changes destination, the roll call will be started over.
    4. If additional seats are released for a mission after the "Roll Call" is finished, the Space-Available call will continue where it previously ended. However, if the PSA had to pass over a family due to insufficient seat release to accommodate them and additional seats become available, then families that were passed over will have an opportunity to take these seats and then the Space-Available "Roll Call" will resume where it previously left off.
    5. Category I, Space-A passengers shall be considered for any flight currently being processed even if the Space-A roll call has already begun (roll call start time passed) regardless of the current category being selected.
    6. If anytime during the Space-A roll call, Space-R walk-in travelers present themselves to the PSC counter and seats are available, they must be given a seat ahead of any Space-A category (1-6) traveler(s).
  • Passengers must be travel ready at the time of "Roll Call"
  • "Virtual" Roll Call" (VRC):  "Virtual" Roll Call means you go on a list and do not have to be present for the physical roll call (you still need to physically go to the terminal to mark yourself "Present."   See for more details.
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What is a "Virtual Roll Call (VRC)?"

A VRC is just a process developed that allows you to be considered for seats virtually (e.g. at home, lodging, BX, Burger King....) without physically attending the traditional Roll Call in the terminal.  It may not be offered at all locations or on all missions.  If VRC is offered then it will be listed as such on the schedule.  The basic steps (slight variations may be implemented at different locations) are:

1. "Within" (not exactly "at") 20 hours before a Roll Call you need to go by the terminal and mark yourself "Present" to compete for any upcoming VRCs.

2.  Go home, take a nap, pack, jog or whatever and wait for the "Roll Call Notification" email.  You should receive that email approximately 45-60 minutes prior to Roll Call. If you don't receive the email then either the terminal does not have your correct email address or there's a network problem (on their end or your end).  The terminal is not responsible for network problems on either end - that's a risk you accept by using VRC.  If you don't respond (typically within 30 minutes) then you're eliminated from the VRC.

3. If you make the cut then you'll receive a "Flight Selection Notification" including instructions to "Check-in" and make a bee line for the terminal (needless to say you should already be "travel ready" (bags packed and a plan to get to the terminal in time)).  If you don't make the cut then you won't receive this email!

4. If you don't make the cut then you should receive a "Non-Selection Notification" email.  Try again just like a normal Roll Call.

5. NOTE:  AMC is not be responsible for personal Email or Internet connectivity issues. Failure to respond to the VRC email notification will result in a non-selection for the VRC Roll Call. If you have not received a VRC notification Email 45 minutes prior to your desired VRC Roll Call then you need to call or stop by the Passenger Terminal to ensure you are competing for your desired flight's Roll Call.

  • The following locations offer VRC (as of October 2016): 
    • CONUS:  Charleston.   Mcguire no longer offers VRC.
    • Overseas:  Hickam, Kadena, Osan, Spangdahlem, Yokota

Here is the AMC Virtual Roll Call Brochure


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What is "Manifested?"

If you're selected for a flight, you're "manifested" on that flight - in other words, you made the cut and have a seat (pending being bumped for cargo if needed) to the flight's destination. You cannot be manifested round-trip back to your originating location.

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What does "manifested through" mean?

"Manifested through" an en route location means that you would not have to compete for seats with other passengers at an en route location. For example, consider a mission traveling from Jackson, MS though Andrews AFB (where it will RON) and then continue on to Ramstein AB the following day. If you are only manifested as far as Andrews AFB then you would have to re-compete for seats to get manifested on that same mission/plane for travel onward to Ramstein AB. However, if the folks at Jackson "manifest you "through" Andrews to Ramstein AB then your seat on that mission is reserved (subject to bumping of course) through to Ramstein and you would NOT have to re-compete with passengers desiring to join that mission at Andrews. You cannot be "manifested through" round-trip back to your originating location.  Finally, don't make the mistake of thinking that declaring your "Final Destination" means that you'll be "manifested through" to your "Final Destination."

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What are some Space-A related Terms, Acronyms and Airport Codes?
Airport Codes Link to decipher airport codes OCONUS Outside The Continental United States
AMC Air Mobility Command (MAC was old term) OSA Operational Support Airlift
AFI Air Force Instruction (i.e. regulation) PAX Passengers
BEQ Bachelor Enlisted Quarters PAT-EX or PE Patriot Express
BOQ Bachelor Officer's Quarters PSA Passenger Service Agent
CBQ Combined Bachelors Quarters PSC Passenger Service Counter
CONUS Continental United States PSR Passenger Service Representative
DAV Disabled Veteran    
DoDEA Department of Defense Education Activity RAF Royal Air Force
DTG Date-Time-Group RON Remain Overnight
EML Environmental Morale Leave TDY Temporary Duty
FBO Fixed Base Operator TLF Temporary Lodging Facility
HOP Slang for a Space-A Flight VWP Visa Waiver Program
"L" or "Local" Local time used at that location  VOQ  
Visiting Officer's Quarters
MAC Military Air Command (AMC is new term)  Zulu  Common Time Zone (used for signup)
MEDEVAC Medical Evacuation    
NAS Naval Air Station  VOQ  Visiting Officer's Quarters
NAVAIR NAVAIRNaval Air Systems Command    
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Space-A Eligibility

Space-A travel restrictions due to COVID-19

UPDATEOn 22 April 2022, OUSD (A&S) issued the attached memorandum to the Services and
USTRANSCOM reinstating all Space-Available Travel Program Categories as defined in Department of
Defense Instruction 4515.13,“Air Transportation Eligibility,” Change 6.
Units and passenger terminals will start accepting eligible Space-A travelers effective immediately. Units
should continue to train, conduct mock processing events, and adjust seat releases as determined by
terminal leadership to build capability. Units and passenger terminals will take necessary actions based on
assessment of their capabilities to restore full servicing by 13 May 2022

Also, see AMC Mask Policy as of April 22 2022


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Can Retirees use Space-A?
  • Yes.  Uniformed Services Retirees (receiving retirement pay and possessing a BLUE Retiree ID Card) and their accompanying dependents can travel Space-A anywhere that Space-A is allowed.  In addition, "Gray Area" Retirees have limited eligibility (but not their dependents).  See the separate FAQ article for "Gray Area' Retiree Eligibility.
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Dependent Travel/Eligibility

Dependents of active duty and retired personnel are eligible to travel CONUS or OCONUS when ACCOMPANIED by their sponsor. Eligible (command sponsored and non-command sponsored dependents whose sponsor is stationed overseas can travel unaccompanied (some CONUS restrictions apply) as CAT-V.  Finally, dependents whose sponsor is on a deployment (30 days or more) may travel unaccompanied without their sponsor anywhere Space-A is allowed as CAT-III (selected after Active Duty CAT-III for deployments 365 days or more) or CAT-IV (30 -364 days). All dependents under 18-years of age must be accompanied by an eligible parent or legal guardian. Dependents of retired military members cannot travel unaccompanied without their sponsor.

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Dependent travel within CONUS with Sponsor

Prior to 1 April 2003, CONUS dependent travel was not authorized unless en-route on a mission to/from an overseas location. A one-year test was conducted between April 2003 and March 2004 which allowed dependents of active duty and retired uniformed service members to travel space available with their sponsors within the CONUS. The test produced excellent results and, as a result, Space-Available privileges are extended to the test audience (DEPENDENTS OF ACTIVE DUTY AND RETIRED UNIFORMED SERVICE MEMBERS ONLY) on a permanent basis. This privilege will be incorporated into the existing regulation through an interim policy change to Air Transportation Eligibility (DoDI 4515.13). Dependents can now travel with their sponsor in CONUS.

BOTTOM LINE:  Depenents can accompany their Active Duty or Retired Sponsor Space-A anywhere within and between CONUS, OCONUS and Overseas wherever Space-A is allowed.

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Can Reservist or Guard members travel Space-A?

Reserve members on the Active Status List (may train for points and/or pay and may be considered for promotion) with their CAC (Reserve) identification and DD Form 1853 may fly Space-A to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the CONUS as CAT-VI.  They cannot use Space-A to/from other overseas locations.

Dependents of authorised Reserve and dependents of Reserve members entitled to retired pay at age 60 (i.e., “gray area retirees) may accompany their sponsor when traveling in the CONUS or directly between the CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa (Guam and American Samoa travelers may transit Hawaii or Alaska); or traveling within Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Reservists placed on active duty for more than 30 days may take ordinary leave and they (and their accompanied dependents) can use Space-A anywhere (CONUS, OCONUS, Overseas) that Space-A is allowed.

Members of Reserve Components may travel "Space-Required" to attend IDT assemblies within CONUS, between CONUS and OCONUS or within OCONUS.  An official Travel Authorization (TA) must be presented to AMC Passenger Service Agents to be considered during the Space-R travel selection process. Approved written authorization may include a memorandum letter or appropriate service form, directing a member to perform IDT and must indicate the dates and locations of training and be signed by an approving authority other than the member. All travelers must have a valid ID card and all other required travel documents (e.g., passport).

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Can Reservist or Guard dependents travel Space-A?

Per DoDI 4515.13, January 22, 2016 Change 6, March 2, 2022, Table 3, dependents of authorised Reserve and dependents of Reserve members entitled to retired pay at age 60 (i.e., “gray area retirees) may accompany their sponsor when traveling in the CONUS or directly between the CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa (Guam and American Samoa travelers may transit Hawaii or Alaska); or traveling within Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If the reserve dependent's sponsor becomes activated for more than 30 days then the typical answer of "No" changes to "Yes" and the dependent has all the Space-A privileges of an Active Duty Dependent accompanied by their sponsor on ordinary leave (except dependents cannot travel unaccompanied under the Command or non-command sponsored travel programs). IMPORTANT! - Make sure all dependents of an activated Guard/Reserve Member update their ID Cards to a regular DD Form 1173 (United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card) versus the DD Form 1173-1 issued to Guard and Reserve dependents!

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Can my grandchild or friend's child accompany me on a Space-A flight?

Only your military dependent(s) (not another sponsor's dependent) can accompany you.

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Are Foreign Exchange members Eligible for Space-A on DoD missions?

Per DoDI 4515.13, Foreign exchange service members on permanent duty with the DoD and their "acccompanied" dependents are elgible for Space-A when in a leave status.

Foreign exchange service officers, as defined in DoDD 5230.20, must have:
(1) A CAC.
(2) A valid leave authorization.  Dependents of foreign exchange service officers must have a DD Form 1173.  Dependents of uniformed services members who are under the age of 10 and traveling without a DD Form 1173 must travel with the sponsor or eligible parent.

For info on how to signup and other procedures please see the FAQ at

Link: view
Can Gray Area Retirees travel Space-A?

Per DoDI 4515.13, Section 4, Table 3, a Gray Area Retiree (Reservist who is "eligible" for retirement pay at 60 years of age but not fully retired with a BLUE ID Card), can fly Space-A only within the CONUS and directly between the CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa (Guam and American Samoa travelers may transit Hawaii or Alaska); or traveling within Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

Dependents of Reserve members entitled to retired pay at age 60 (i.e., “gray area retirees) may accompany their sponsor.

The DoD reg, Section 4, Table 3 does not authorize Gray Area Dependents to fly Space-A"" until the Gray Area Retiree has fully retired and has his/her BLUE Uniformed Services ID Card.   Once the Gray Area Retiree has his/her BLUE Uniformed Services ID Card then they and their accompanied dependents can use Space-A to travel anywhere Space-A is allowed. (also Reference PASSENGER SERVICE UPDATE DTG: 261800Z OCT 01 para 1.K).  NOTE:  Some reservists may obtain retiree status before age 60

Link: view
I'm a DAV with a disability rated as total. Can I travel Space-A?

Authorized veterans with a permanent service-connected disability rated as total and their dependents (when accompanied by their sponsor)traveling in the CONUS or directly between the CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa
(Guam and American Samoa travelers may transit Hawaii or Alaska); or traveling within Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands

Veterans with a permanent service-connected disability rated as total, must have a DD Form 2765, "Department of Defense/Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (TAN).”

Source: DoD Instruction 4515.13, January 22, 2016, Change 5, October 23, 2020, Table 3, Item 47

Link: view
Can military widows or widowers travel Space-A?

The policy changed in October 2020 and certain surviving spouses ( widow or widower) and their accompanied dependents are now eligible for Space-A travel (CONUS to CONUS only). 

The updated policy applies to surviving spouses and their dependents (when accompanied by the surviving spouse) of:

  • Service members who died on active duty
  • Retired military members
  • Service members who died in an inactive duty training status
  • Service members who died in an annual training status

Full details on the updated policy can be found in DoDI 4515.13, January 22, 2016 Change 5, October 23, 2020 (Change 5 (Section 4, Table 3, Items 48-51).

Link: view
Can a ROTC or Academy Cadet fly Space-A?
  • a. Yes (but not your dependents if ROTC), When enrolled ( I read "contracted" versus "taking" ROTC) in an advanced ROTC, NUPOC, or CEC course or enrolled under the financial assistance program, on presentation of the following valid: Military ID Card and DD Form 1853.
  • b. Category of Travel is Cat 6 and travel is authorized ONLY within and between the CONUS, Alaska, Hawaii and the US. Territories
  • c. If you have been commissioned but waiting for active duty then you are still Cat-VI (have your old Det Commander sign your DD Form 1853.
  • d. On a related topic, Academy Cadet Graduates may be granted up to 60 days of non-chargeable leave in conjunction with their PCS and will travel in Category-III (CONUS-CONUS, CONUS-OCONUS, OCONUS-CONUS). Graduates will not possess a leave form, but the authorization for leave needs to be stated on their PCS orders.
  • e. Per the DODI, ROTC Cadets must travel in Uniform and Academy Cadets should follow their Service and Academy Uniform regulations.
Link: view
Can my pet, friend, grandkids, parent accompany me in a Space-A status?
  • A pet, parent, grandkid (or other non-dependent) cannot accompany you if you are flying in a Space-A status.
  • Only your(not someone-else's) authorized (i.e. registered in DEERS and has ID card if 10 years old or more) military dependents may accompany you. Sponsorship cannot be delegated to another military member. Dependents under 18-years of age must be accompanied by an eligible parent or Legal Guardian. Per the regs, Space-A travel eligibility cannot be delegated or transferred except for dual Uniformed Services members. The source of eligibility is the sponsor. Powers of Attorney do not create legal guardianship, therefore, travel under a power of attorney, non-court ordered adoptive guardianship, etc. is not authorized.
  • Members traveling on PCS Orders on DoD Commercial Chartered missions (e.g. Patriot Express flights or other commercial contract missions (e.g to/from BWI, Seattle. Ramstein, Japan, Korea or Travis and Hawaii) can take a pet (defined as a dog or cat only) along on a Space-A basisOnly a few Pet Spaces are available each mission (some in-cabin) and passengers must request a Pet Reservation through their official travel office as soon as they have their PCS orders.  "Pets" are not allowed on Military aircraft (e.g. cargo/tanker aircraft) even if the member is in a PCS status.   See AMC's Pet Brochure for more information and contact your TMO for details regarding shipping pets in conjunction with your PCS.
  • There are no blackout dates for pet travel.
  • For those of you PCSing here's the pet rates (current as of June 2023 - source - AMC Pet Travel Page):
    • Pet and container weighing up to 70 lbs - $125
    • Pet and container 71-140 lbs - $250
    • Pet and container 141-150 lbs - $375
    • If PCSing to Germany there is (current as of March 2015) a 55 Euro fee paid to the German Government upon claiming your pet/processing through customs. The fee applies to any arrivals in Germany (military or commercial.
  • It may be "possible" for a family to take more than two pets when PCSing but "probably " unlikely as Pet Spaces tend to fill up quickly. Contact your official travel office to see if they have any cancellations or updated allocations.
  • Legitimate "Service Animals" are allowed on DoD-controlled missions (see the separate FAQ article for details).
Link: view
Can my service animal accompany me?


Space-A passengers may travel with an Emotional Support/Psychiatric Service or Service Animal when documentation requirements are met IAW DoDI 4515.13. If PSAs are unable to validate documentation, the animal will be denied transportation. Note: Passengers with service animals, as listed above, are prohibited from exit row seating. Also, see the the Service Animal Policy.

Link: view
I'm married to another military member and our child(ren) is my spouse's military dependent. Can our child(ren) accompany me on a Space-A flight?

Per a 14 Jul 08 memo, the DoD rectified a restriction which only allowed the designated military sponsor to accompany a dependent child traveling Space-A. Now, certain dual Uniformed Services member parents/step-parents may accompany their dependent children regardless of which parent is designated as the sponsor in the DEERS. The policy applies to Uniformed Services members on active duty, retired from active duty, and retired Reserve/Guard members 60 years or older who are receiving retired pay.

The designated military sponsor may give the military non-sponsor parent the authority to accompany their dependent child when traveling Space-A in the same category of travel as the military non-sponsor parent.. The sponsor parent must authorize the non-sponsor parent in writing (Sample Dual-Sponsor Memo) with his or her signature notarized. The letter is valid for 180 days from the date it was signed and notarized. Only the ORIGINAL letter with the sponsor's signature notarized may be accepted for Space-A travel and the non-sponsor parent must carry this authorization letter during all phases of travel along with his or her valid military identification card.

Link: view
Can I travel Space-A while pregnant or with a newborn infant?


Women up to the 34th week of gestation can travel Space-A unless medically inadvisable by your doctor. Women who are 6 weeks or more post partum and infants at least 6 weeks old may travel unless medically inadvisable by your doctor. Infants under 6 weeks old and women who are less than 6 weeks post partum may travel if considered medically sound and so certified in writing by a responsible medical officer or civilian physician.  Infants require a DoD ID Number or Passport as identity.  SSN is no longer acceptable (as of January 2017).  If going overseas to a foreign country then the infant needs a passport.  If going to Guam then proof of U.S. Citizenship (Passport or Birth Certificate) is required.

Link: view
Can a Government Civilian use Space-A?

U.S. citizen civilian employees of the Armed Forces (and their accompanied dependents) stationed overseas who are eligible for Government-funded transportation to the United States at tour completion (including NAF employees) are authorized to travel Space-A using EML (CAT-II) with their dependents. In addition, civilians are eligible for Space-A under Emergency conditions (sample Letter available at In both cases (EML and Emergency) CONUS-to-CONUS travel is not authorized. Dependents using EML unaccompanied by their sponsor would travel CAT-IV. Also, DoDDS Teachers stationed overseas are eligible for Space-A when on EML.  More info on EML is available here.

Link: view

Dependent Travel

Can Retiree Dependents use Space-A Unaccompanied?

Sorry, no.  Dependents of retirees must be accompanied by their sponsor.

Link: view
Can a Dependent of a Retired Member Travel Space-A Unaccompanied??

Sorry, no.  Dependents of Retirees (possess a BLUE Retiree ID Card) need to be accompanied by their sponsor.  Retirees and their accompanied dependents can use Space-A within CONUS, OCONUS and Overseas wherever Space-A is allowed.

Link: view
I'm a dependent of an active-duty member: Can I fly Space-A unaccompanied without my sponsor?

Generally, there are five situations where dependents can travel Space-A without their sponsor but there are additional restrictions on traveling within CONUS unaccompanied:

  • 1. Emergency situations Cat-I (per DoD 4515.13-RTable C6.T1., ITEM 4)
  • 2. Command sponsored dependent stationed with their sponsor overseas utilizing the command sponsored Cat-V letter obtained from the unit commander. 
  • 3. Unaccompanied Environmental Morale Leave (EML) dependents stationed at some overseas locations can travel CAT-IV with the appropriate EML paperwork.
  • 4. Non-command sponsored dependent (Cat-V), not residing at the sponsor's overseas location, may travel Space-A unaccompanied to and from the sponsor's overseas location with a letter from the installation commander. There is no limit to the number of times you can travel during the year but sponsor commanders may have limitations.
  • 5. Unaccompanied dependents of deployed military members can travel as a Cat-III (after active duty Cat-III if sponsor deployed 365 days or more) or Cat-IV (if sponsor deployed 30 to 364 days), including Reserve and Guard personnel.  The required Dependent Verification Letter is valid for the duration of the deployment and for unlimited trips.

    There is no limit to the number of times Command or Non-command Sponsored dependents can use Space-A but Command or Non-command Sponsored Space-A Letters are only valid for 90 days or one round-trip whichever occurs first. 

Link: view
I'm a dependent of an active-duty member: Can I fly Space-A unaccompanied within the CONUS without my sponsor?

Cat-III or Cat-IV (deployed Sponsor) unaccompanied dependents can travel within CONUS. However, ""Cat-V (Command or non-command sponsored) or CAT-IV (EML) unaccompanied dependents can only travel on CONUS segments of international flights during the beginning or end of their international flight."" For example, if a flight originates in Texas, stops in California as part of the mission, and then continues overseas to Korea, unaccompanied Cat-V dependents may fly within the CONUS from Texas to the overseas area on the flight. They may not, however, travel within CONUS from Texas to California and then pickup a new mission/aircraft overseas. If there is no changing of aircraft or mission number, dependents may fly to a destination within the CONUS from overseas. For example, an authorized dependent can get manifested on a plane in Hawaii and travel all the way to Charleston AFB, SC with an overnight stop at Travis AFB, CA as long as that mission had an ultimate destination of Charleston and the dependent was manifested through to Charleston. The same applies on the return. An authorized dependent can travel within CONUS on a plane traveling from Kelly AFB, TX to Travis AFB, CA (overnight at Travis) and then continue on to Hawaii. A dependent can't get on the same plane at Kelly AFB, TX and just go to Travis AFB in the hope of picking up a different mission to Hawaii. Bottom line, once a Cat-V or CAT-IV (EML) unaccompanied dependent lands in the CONUS from OCONUS, their onward travel via Space-A is terminated unless they are manifested through on the same aircraft/mission to another CONUS destination. The same applies going from CONUS to OCONUS. A dependent cannot begin Space-A travel on a plane in CONUS to another CONUS location unless they are manifested though on that aircraft to an OCONUS location. (DoD, C6.1.8.2, AMC 21.1.1)

Link: view
I'm a "command sponsored dependent" living OCONUS/OVERSEAS (e.g.Europe, Pacific, Hawaii, Alaska). Can I travel unaccompanied without my sponsor?

Yes!! Travel restrictions may apply to certain overseas destinations as determined by the appropriate unified commander. Travel is authorized Overseas-CONUS, CONUS-Overseas, and Overseas-Overseas. NOTE: Travel within CONUS (e.g. hop from Virginia to California) is not allowed unless you're already manifested through on the same mission/aircraft from/to an overseas location. Documentation signed by the sponsor's commander verifying command sponsorship (i.e. a Command Sponsor Letter) shall be presented to air terminal personnel, and shall be in the dependents' possession during travel. The letter is valid for one Cat-V round-trip from sponsor's OCONUS PCS duty location. Space-A travel must be completed within ninety (90) days from the date the letter is issued or a new letter is required. NOTE: Prior to August 2012, overseas-overseas travel was restricted to within the dependent's assigned Theater but the updated regulation no longer has that restriction. Here is a sample Command Sponsor Letter.

Link: view
I'm a "non-command-sponsored dependent" living in CONUS. Can I travel unaccompanied overseas (e.g. Korea) to visit my active-duty spouse?

The short answer is YES! Non-command sponsored dependents are authorized to travel unaccompanied to/from their sponsor's OCONUS duty station. Documentation signed by the sponsor's commander verifying non-command sponsorship shall be presented to air terminal personnel, and shall be in the dependents' possession during travel. This letter is valid for one Cat-V round-trip to and from the sponsor's OCONUS PCS duty location. Space-A travel must be completed within ninety (90) days from the date the letter is issued or a new letter is required. Here is a sample Non-command Sponsor Letter.

NOTE: "Non-command sponsored" dependents MAY travel (from CONUS) Space-A in Category III if accompanied by their sponsor to and from the duty location and Category V if not accompanied by their sponsor.

Link: view
Can I use Space-A to visit my sponsor serving a non-command sponsored tour at a CENTCOM location?

According to USCENTCOM CCJ4 message DTG 222016Z Jul 05, all categories of space available (Space-A) travel into, within, and out of the USCENTCOM AOR are suspended with the following exceptions:

  1. DoD eligible travelers serving 12-to 18-month unaccompanied or dependent-restricted tours in the USCENTCOM AOR who are authorized Unfunded Environmental and Morale Leave (UEML).
  2. DoD eligible travelers and their families who are serving command-sponsored tours and authorized UEML travel.
  3. travelers who possess a signed authorization letter from COMUSNAVCENT/ CNRSWA may visit their sponsor "permanently assigned on PCS orders for 365 days or more.

The above policy from 2005 is still in effect as of March 2015.


Link: view
Can a Dependent use Space-A Unaccompanied in an Emergency?

If the emergency is for an immediate family member then according to DoDI 4515.13, Section 4, Table 3, Item 5 you should be eligible for CAT-I travel:  It states:  "Dependents, accompanied or unaccompanied, of members of the Uniformed Services who are assigned and domiciled in the CONUS" and travel would be authorised C-O (CONUS to overseas) and O-C (overseas to CONUS).  I only know of one person that has actually done it from BWI to Ramstein. You'd need a modified version of a dependent Space-A Letter from the Sponsor's commander.

In addition, you may be able for unit-funded travel (again, if it's immediate family) pe the Joint Federal Travel Reg (JFTR). I don't know the exact reference off-hand (I'd need to do some research).

Link: view
Can Dependents use Space-A after a Divorce?

Sorry, dependent eligibility for Space-A is only available through a current military sponsor and divorced dependents no longer have a sponsor (even though you retained other benefits).

Link: view
My sponsor is TDY. Can I travel Space-A unaccompanied to visit him/her?

Sorry, no (unless you are Command-Sponsored and stationed OCONUS then you can travel per Command Sponsored dependent rules).

Link: view
Am I eligible to fly Space-A without my sponsor if he/she is deployed?
  • The answer is "Yes" IF your sponsor is deployed for 30 consecutive days or more. Unaccompanied dependents of deployed military members, including Reserve and Guard personnel, when the deployment order is between 30 and 365 consecutive days, are authorized to travel Space-A, unaccompanied in Category IV. This includes Navy personnel assigned to a deployed ship with Permanent Change of Station orders. Travel must be completed before the end of the sponsor's deployment period. Travel is authorized to/from CONUS and OCONUS locations, between CONUS locations, and within/between OCONUS theaters.
  • Dependents may sign-up for Space-A travel no earlier than 10 days prior to the military member's deployment and commence travel effective on the first day of military member's deployment. Travel must be complete by the last day of the military member's deployment. Here is the Official 120 Day Deployment Policy Announcement.  Here is the Official 30 Day Deployment Policy Announcement.
  • If the sponsor's deployment exceeds 365 consecutive days the unaccompanied dependent will be assigned Cat-III status ("selected after" Cat-III Active Duty Personnel and their accompanying dependents. This Category is unofficially referred to as Cat-IIIb (because you are selected for seats after the normal Cat-III pax). Here is the Official 365 Day Deployment Policy Announcement. You will still register/signup as Cat-III (there is no Cat-IIIb designator on signup forms etc...).
  • Eligible dependents must present a deployment verification letter signed by the sponsor’s commander or designated representative (Navy and Marine Corps letters must be signed by individuals with "By Direction" authority approval, verifying the active duty member’s deployment. Letters should contain the following information: Sponsor's name, SSN (last four is OK), effective start and end date of deployment, dependents’ names, SSN (last four is OK), relationship to sponsor and unit contact information. The documentation must be in the dependents’ possession during travel and is valid for the duration. The verification letter (copy is OK) must be in the dependent's possession during travel, the letter is valid for travel through the sponsor's deployment return date and there is no limitation on number of times it can be used. NOTE: Dependents of deployed military members will not be denied travel based on incomplete (last four Digits only) or missing SSN on the deployment verification letter (Ref: Passenger Service Update, Aug 10).
  • Here is a sample Deployed Sponsor Dependent Verification Letter verifying the member's deployment.
  • "Deployment" is different from a TDY and is defined as anyone on contingency, exercise or deployment orders (CED - CONTINGENCY EXERCISE DEPLOYMENT orders). This includes one-year extended TDYs to any AOR. Normal TDY/TADs are NOT considered deployments, even if they're for training in preparation for deployment.
Link: view

Space-A Signup

When can I "sign-up?"
  • Active-duty: can sign-up at outbound and return location(s) as soon as your "leave or pass" status begins (i.e. "ON OR AFTER" your leave start date/time (local)) and must remain in their leave or pass status for the duration of the signup.  In other words, YOU CANNOT SIGNUP WHEN YOUR LEAVE FORM IS APPROVED (unless you start leave status the minute your leave form is approved).
  • Retirees: can sign-up at outbound and return location(s) anytime - hey, they're retired!
  • Unaccompanied Dependents: ALL unaccompanied Dependents require a signed and dated Space-A Letter for a valid signup.  Dependents of deployed members using the Cat-III or Cat-IV deployed sponsor program cannot signup any EARLIER THAN 10 days before the member deploys (even if they have a memo issued earlier than the 10 days) and cannot travel before the first day of the sponsors deployment.
  • Per DoDI 4515.13 para 4.7.c, Space-A signup is valid until leave terminates (Active duty), or a maximum of 60 days has passed (retirees, dependents etc...) , whichever occurs first.  Some Navy locations have a 45-day limit so verify with the departure location prior to signup.
Link: view
When should I "sign-up?"

The earlier you signup the more seniority you'll have within your travel category so your goal should be to have as much seniority (days) on the Space-A register without having your signup expire when you are competing for a flight. All passengers "should" signup at every location where they might need to compete for seats which means Active Duty "should" signup at potential departure and return locations as soon as their leave status begins.  With the exception of active duty, signups are only valid for 60 days (active duty is the duration of their leave).

With that in mind, many retirees and unaccompanied dependents plan their signup date so that they have approx 50-55 days on a location's Space-A Register on the first day that they plan to attempt travel.  That allows them to have subsequent Roll Call opportunities before their signup expires and they need to re-signup (revert to the bottom of their category).

Link: view
How do I "sign-up?"

You need to register (signup) for Space-A travel at EACH location where you plan to compete for seats. You can signup at any/multiple locations at anytime. Each location maintains its own signup register so must signup at each location you might initiate travel from - your sign-ups at the other locations are NOT affected by what you do at a particular location.

At most USAF locations, there are four ways to sign up for Space A travel: A completed paper AMC Form 140, on-line sign up (including e-mail), FAX, or in person; see the Space-A Links Forms section for a fillable version of AMC 140. Active duty personnel can signup as soon as they begin "leave or pass status."

If you would like to signup via email then cut and paste the info from this generic signup template (a Word document based on the AMCFORM 140) into an email and send to the terminal(s) that you wish to travel from. You can obtain the emails for the most popular terminals from the Space-A Terminal Locations Lists.

Several terminals also maintain a web-based signu form (consult the terminal listing). Roy Buckman (now deceased) developed a one-stop shopping sign-up site that allowed you to sign-up for multiple destinations at the same time. Roy's web site is now being used as a front for a commercial business and no longer offers signup. However, Rob G. has developed an identical one-stop sign-up site service at Takeahop also offers an App for iPhone and Android. 

AMC provides a signup form here.

However you choose to signup, ""experienced Space-A travelers will usually call to verify their signup was successfully received and entered in the system. It is a good idea to print out a copies of your email signup receipts and bring them along in case you arrive at a departure point and you are not registered."" The PSAs will normally honor your hand-carried signup showing your original day/time of signup and prevent a disaster!

Once you are added to the Space Available register, you are eligible for any flights that depart that location ONLY for the duration of your signup.  You need to signup at other locations if needed.

  • Note 1: DoD ID Number is required by all passengers (except retirees with an ID card still showing SSN) to travel.  Although it is HQ AMC policy that DoD ID Number or SSN disclosure is not required for remote signup, some AMC detachments do not comply with the policy. Be advised that those few locations may ignore your signup if you do not include a SSN or ask you to provide a SSN to register for travel. If the PAX personnel are properly trained then they know to complete the registration using a pseudo Person ID consisting of the prefix RMT and the first four letters of the passenger's last name, first and middle name initials. Alternatively, passengers can use their passport number as a placeholder for your SSN.

Some folks just use a dummy SSN using the last four digits of your SSN (like XXX-XX-1234) when registering and then provide a valid DoD ID Number when you show-up at the Pax desk when you are ready to travel.

  • Note 2: Per the constantly revised Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG is accessible from a .mil computer only), command sponsored dependents require a SOFA stamp in their no fee passports in order to travel to Germany. Also, Active Duty on leave not stationed in Europe REQUIRE a tourist passport for travel to Germany. Make sure you verify this and any other document requirements in the FCG BEFORE you show up for a flight!
  • Note 3: On most Navy bases you have to sign up in person per mission (flight) and e-mail and fax signup may not be available. Some Navy locations such as Norfolk, Jacksonville, Naples, Sigonella and Rota act as AMC terminals so they provide for the "normal" signup methods.
  • Note 4: As of October 2011, revised AMC policy states that travelers signing up remotely (email, fax etc…) must identify their station of assignment (the local area where their leave officially start/end) or current state/country of residence on the request. This is to ensure passenger service agents have the information necessary to adjust the date/time of sign-up in regards to time zone differences.
  • Note 4:  As of Nov 2013, Date-of-Birth will be required to "complete" Space-A signup before you travel but it's optional for a "remote" (email/fax) signup.
Link: view
The sign-up form/page is asking me to list up to 5 "Country Choices." What 5 do I choose?
  • Country choices (codes) are not specific bases or locations-they are countries (but include some OCONUS US states and territories as well such as Hawaii, Alaska, Guam....). Select the top five countries/OCONUS destinations you want to visit. Note:  AMC stopped using "ALL" as a valid Country Choice as of August 2010 as it makes it easier for Pax Reps to manage roll calls. However, don't panic, your Country Choices can be changed when you arrive at an AMC departure location and Passengers will not be penalized when changing their destination.

  • Hint: If you are flying to a location in CONUS the Country Choice is "USA" and not a specific base (e.g. "Dover" or "Delaware" are not valid Country Choices).
  • ""NOTE:"" The selection of Country Choices at signup is different than your final destination (selected by you when you are finally assigned a seat and manifested on a flight). See the discussion later on "Final Destination."
Link: view
What happens if I signup more than once at the same location?

You can only have one current signup at a specific location.  There is nothing definitive in the DoD reg on this but the second submission should (usually) overwrite the first and your signup "clock" will restart to coincide with the latest signup date (i.e. retiree signup will be valid for 60 days from the latest signup). If you have to signup twice at the same location then annotate your change of plans in the remarks of your sign up request or in your email. A prudent and savvy Space-A traveler will follow up and contact a Pax Rep to verify the most recent signup was received and has replaced the current one.

Link: view
Can I sign-up at multiple locations?

Yes, you can signup at any/all locations where you think you will originate your travel including for your return trip. Your signup is unique to that location. Once "signed-up", you'll remain on "the list" for THAT location for 60 days or the duration of your leave orders or authorization, or you get manifested on a flight (does not include enroute) at that location whichever occurs first. When you depart a location you will be removed from THAT location's list only; your sign-ups at the other locations are NOT affected by what you do at another location.

Link: view
What if I signup for a certain number of seats and need more (or less) when my actual travel date arrives?

I would recommend signing up all potential travelers (that are eligible to be included on a single signup). When you arrive at the departure point on the actual day of travel then you can always reduce the number of seats you require.

Link: view
Will we need to request a seat for our infant child?

Yes, every passenger requires a physical seat so include your child in your signup request.

Link: view
How long is my" sign-up" valid?

Per DoDI 4515.13 para 4.7.c, Space-A signup is valid until leave terminates (Active duty), or a maximum of 60 days has passed (retirees, dependents etc...) , whichever occurs first.  Some Navy locations have a 45-day limit so verify with the departure location prior to signup.

The following Navy locations are AMC-operated terminals and follow the 60-day rule and other items covered by AMC: (Norfolk, Jacksonville, Naples, Sigonella, Souda Bay and Rota).  NAS North Island (single destination only), Ft Worth (requires at least 24 hours prior) and Kaneohe follow 45-day signup.  Oceana does not have remote signup and requires 72-hour advance notice for Space-A Signup.

The details are as follows:

  • Active Duty Uniformed Services Members (ref DoDI 4515.13, Section 4 for definition): Until your last day of chargeable leave. Note: Also applies to Guard/Reserve on AD for 30 days or more.  Active Duty military members whose leave orders have expired shall be allowed to remain on the Space-A register if they are "attempting" to have leave extended. These personnel will not be moved until their leave is extended, but if there are extenuating circumstances, the passenger service officer/detachment commander/NCOIC may elect to authorize movement. Leave extensions shall be accepted based on verbal confirmation of the passenger.
  • Unaccompanied Dependents: 60 days
  • Retired Military Personnel: 60 days.
  • Authorized Reserve Component Members (ref DoDI 4515.13, Section 4 for definition): 60 days from the day you sign up. Note: Applies to Guard/Reserve on AD for 30 days or less.

Your signup expires at each location 60 days (or 45 days or leave expiration as applicable) after you signed up at that particular location and you would need to submit another signup at that location and start back at "Day 0". Once you are "manifested" on a flight (as a result of a Roll Call at that location) and depart from a location you will be removed from the Space-A register at that location (and that location only). If your signup expires or you are manifested on a flight (and depart) you will need to submit a new signup (registration) to get manifested from that location on future flights.

Link: view
Why didn't I receive a return e-mail verifying receipt of my Space-A registration?

The folks at the Space-A terminals receive many remote requests for Space-A travel from folks that never show up to use that signup. As a result, to cut down on non-value-added work, some locations don't enter your info into their database or acknowledge your signup with a return email. So, what should you do? You could call the terminal staff and ask them to verify receipt of your signup. That, too, may be non-value added especially if you've shot-gunned your signup out to every Space-A terminal on earth. ""Experienced Space-A travelers will print out a copy or their signup from their email program's "SENT" folder. This printed copy will indicate the date, time and address of the location(s) for your signup."" If you were smart enough to send one email to multiple terminals at once using the template format above, then you should only have to carry one piece of paper with you per direction of travel (e.g. CONUS to EUROPE and then return from EUROPE to CONUS). ""Historically, most (if not all), locations will honor your email printout."" If you used the Take-a-Hop to signup and haven't received an acknowledgment then follow the suggestions outline in the Take-a-Hop FAQ (e.g. check your email junk/spam folder for the confirmation copy).

Link: view

Space-A Schedules

Why do the amount of seats available on departures keep changing?

IAW AFI 24-605, Volume 2, Para 2.12, 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


Link: view
Does the aircraft stop at locations in the order they are listed on the departure schedules?

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.

Link: view
What are the Patriot Express Schedule/Routes?
  • BWI-RAF Mildenhall-BWI (2 per month) NOTE: Patriot express flights between BWI and RAF Mildenhall are scheduled to cease after January 1st 2024.
  • BWI-Ramstein AB-BWI (2 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
  • BWI-Ramstein AB-Incirlik AB-Ramstein-BWI (1 Per Week/Varied Schedule)
  • Seattle-Andersen AFB Guam-Kadena-Seattle (Monthly)
  • 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 (Schedule is dated but sheet helps explain Space-A Roll Call process)
  • 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
Link: view
What are some Typical Flight Routes and Frequencies?

Here's some tools you can use to review "historical" info on flight frequencies and routes:

    1. A fellow Space-A Traveler (Craig Hullinger) from 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.
    2. Another traveler (jkeaty) has some route information available on his public onedrive channel that is accessible from his facebook channel here:

  1. Richard Sgrignoli's "Space-A Trend Report" is no longer available.

Historical route information can only give you an "indication" of past flight routes and frequency based on "past" flight schedules  (no guarantees that same routes or frequencies would continue).

Link: view
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 online but here are some schedule sources:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Schedule Links).
  3. ManyTerminals post their 72-hour departure schedules on their Terminal Page- see here for links
  4. AMC 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 ...).
  5. If you have access to a .mil computer you may be able to look-up OSA schedules.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
Link: view
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 ("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.

Link: view
What do the terms "T", "F" "TSR" 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.

  • 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.

Link: view
What does "No First Time Entry" (NFE) mean on schedules from Overseas locations to USA?

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.

Link: view
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."

Link: view
Why do I often see 19 seats listed on the flight schedules?

Current 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.

Link: view

Flight Preparation

What documentation do I need?
  • All passengers (see an exception for Retirees below) need a Uniformed Services ID showing their DoD ID Number to travel Space-A.   Children under 10 years of age (without ID cards), will need a passport for identification but should have their DOD ID number which can be retrieved from the MilConnect Website.
  • All Passengers need their Uniformed Services ID card (if 10 years of age and over). 
  • Retirees with a Retired ID still showing their SSN "may" still be excepted.  HINT: Get your ID updated with a DoD ID Number!
  • Active Duty (or Activated Reservists) and their Dependents need their current leave form and/or EML orders as applicable
  • Unaccompanied Dependents (Active or Activated Reservists) must have one of the following letters (signed by Sponsor's Commander):
    • Unaccompanied Command Sponsored Dependent Space-A Letter (copy is OK)
    • Unaccompanied Non-Command Sponsored Dependent Space-A Letter (copy is OK)
    • Unaccompanied Dependent Dependent Verification Space-A Letter (Deployed Military Member)  (copy is OK)
  • Active Reservist/Guardsmen (not on Active Duty over 30 days) need a DD Form 1853 signed by Commander or First Sergeant
  • Passports (Active Duty):  Consult the Foreign Clearance Guide for Passport and other requirements if traveling in a leave status to foreign countries
  • Passports (Others) - 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.
    •  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.
  • Visas:  If a US citizen then check the Visa requirements for the country you plan to travel to at State Dept Country Info.  If not a US citizen then you'll need to check with the respective Country for Visa requirements.
  • Immunizations and records as required by foreign countries (check State Dept Country Info)
  • NOTE: It is YOUR responsibility to verify you have the correct documentation and it's current for the duration of your trip! 
Link: view
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.
Link: view
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.

Link: view
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)!

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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.

Link: view
How many bags am I allowed to bring and are there any Security restrictions?
  • In general, passengers on large aircraft (e.g. C-5, C-17, C-130, KC-10, KC-135 andincluding 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.  Items exceeding 100 pounds and or 80 linear inches shall not be accepted.  EXCEPTIONS:  Large garment bags, golf clubs, surfboards, snow skis, bicycles, fishing equipment, rucksacks, and/or musical instruments.  Snow skis, bicycles, and fishing equipment should be properly packed to avoid injury to baggage handlers or damage to other baggage. Only one of these bags per person shall be the allowed exception. The second bag must still comply with size restrictions and is limited to 70 pounds.
  • Passengers on administrative support airlift (C-12, C-21, UC-35) are limited to 30 pounds TOTAL baggage weight (includes hand-carried luggage) and the allowance for USN' C-40, C-9, C-37 aircraft is usually limited to 2 bags not to exceed 50 lbs. total weight.
  • On other than administrative support airlift (C-12, C-21, UC-35) 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 (AFI 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.
  • ""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.""
  • In addition to any prohibited items covered in the AFI, 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).
  • HQ AMC has mandated all E-CIGARETTES to be carried in one’s hand carried luggage on all AMC flights. Transportation of e-cigarettes will not be authorized in your checked baggage.(as of March 2015)
  • You normally won't be able to access your checked bags on a flight even though you can see them strapped down on the flight deck.
  • 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").
Link: view
Can I take Firearms on the Aircraft when traveling Space-A?

Yes, Space-A passengers are allowed to bring firearms. The firearms must be declared and turned over to the Passenger Service Agents as soon as you enter the terminal so that they can be secured until you are selected and checked-in for a flight. All weapons must be transported in a locked case or as checked luggage. No more than 11 pounds of ammo can be transported with the weapon. If you are attempting to travel to a foreign country their laws may prevent you from being able to take weapons into or through the country in which case they will be prohibited on the  flight.  Finally, make sure you are aware of any local state or military installation laws on firearms (and other weapons) BEFORE you travel to the Passenger Terminal.

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Will I be "served" meals traveling Space-A 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, you're normally given the option of purchasing a box lunch for about $4.60 (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!  On Navy flights plan to bring your own food/snacks as they may not have box lunches available.

As far as infant formula, liquids and food please see the FAQ on Traveling with Children.

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How are seats assigned on Military or Patriot Express Aircraft?

On military (grey tail) aircraft seating is usually as you can find it when boarding the aircraft (some have web seats or palletised normal airline type seats).  On commercial contract missions, AMC's goal  is  for  a  passenger  to  receive  the  seat  they  desire (no guarantees of course) and an aircraft seat map is used to show locations of available seats.  All passengers  regardless of age, traveling on AMC owned or operated airlift will have an assigned Space-A seat.  When the aircraft is configured with business or first class seats, priority is given to special  category  (Wounded  passengers  upon  request,  Medal  of  Honor  holders,  Blue Barks, Coin Assist, Next Of Kin of Very Seriously Ill, and O-6 or civilian equivalent and above)  passengers.  The  first  two  rows  on  commercial  PE  aircraft  (without  business  or first class seating) are used for DV seating to the maximum extent possible. Any remaining seats shall be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis but passenger Service Personnel will normally try to keep families seated together on Patriot Express or other missions that have assigned seating.

Passengers  seated  in  emergency  exit  rows  must have  sufficient  mobility,  strength,  or  dexterity  in  both  arms,  hands,  and  legs  to  reach upward,  sideways,  and  downward  to  open  the  emergency  exit  and  exit  slide-operating mechanisms.

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How long after Roll Call does a flight depart?

Flights typically depart within 2-3 hours after the Roll C all starts but some can depart sooner (tight departure window) or later (maintenence or other delays).

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I'm traveling with small children. What tips can you offer?
  • If infants (even newborns) don't have a DoD ID Number then they need a Passport. SSN only is no longer accepted (as of Jan 2017)
  • 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 required for infants under 2 years of age or under 30 lbs.
  • Infant Car Seats: They are not mandatory, however, AMC encourages children be restrained in flight. Passengers may use FAA approved Child Restraint Systems (CRS) intended for use in flight.  Use of a CRS on DOD owned or controlled aircraft is not mandatory; however, the FAA strongly urges use of approved restraint based on the following weight and size for children:
    • Less than 20 pounds:  Use a rear-facing CRS.
    • Between 20-40 pounds:  Use a forward-facing CRS.
    • More than 40 pounds:  Use an airplane seatbelt.
    • A passenger CRS must be government approved and have the following statement attached “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”.  See Para 68.8.5 of AMCI24-101V14 for further details.
  • 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.
  • NOTE:  A CRS, Strollers, Car Seats can be checked as part of your baggage or gate-checked depending on the mission and neither 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.
  • Meals and Food:  If ordering a meal for the flight ask if Cheese or PBJ sandwiches are options at the check in counter. If you wish to bring your own food snacks this is fine.
  • Documentation:  If traveling without sponsor then each child (regardless of age) needs to be included on the dependent travel memo.  Also, children age 10 and over are required to have an ID card for Space-A travel.
  • Clothing:  Some aircraft types can be extremely cold during flight so please make sure infants/children can be warmly dressed if needed (layer!).  Toddlers (like adults) are required to wear solid shoes, no open toed footwear, sandals, or Crocs are permitted (Patriot Express flights are probably the exception).
  • Assigned Seats:  Every passenger (including children and infants) is required to have an assigned seat so if there is one seat left and you are next in line and there is more than one person traveling then they will skip over you until they get to the next single passenger.

Here's some specific items and suggestions provided by a mom:

Finally, if the child is not accompanied by both parents and you're going overseas, then some folks recommend the adult have a note from the child's other parent acknowledging that they are aware of the trip.  For more details please see the info listed CBP's info for Children Traveling with One Parent.

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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.

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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).

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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:

  • Patriot Express Missions:  These are commercial contracted missions and the contract only provides a fixed number of seats even though the aircraft size might accommodate more passengers.
  • C-5: Cargo (not crew) limitation. 20 passengers and above requires an open pallet position for passenger baggage. Typically 73 Seats iempty but if there is a full cargo load thenlimited to 19 seats.
  • C-17: Crew limitation. Above 40 passengers requires an additional crew member. Typically, 53 Seats empty.
  • KC-10: Crew limitation. Above 40 passengers requires an additional crew member.
  • KC-10:  Above 10 passengers requires requires an open pallet position for passenger baggage.
  • KC-135: Crew limitation. Above 10 passengers requires an additional crew member.
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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.

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How do I access all my Space-A documents while I'm traveling?

Simple, get a FREE Dropbox account or other online cloud 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.  Alternatively just email yourself the files.

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I'm a disabled veteran. Can I travel with a power or wheelchair?

Assuming you are eligible then the normal process for determining Space-A travel is followed.

According to DOD4515.13r Para 3.1.b (22 January 2016), all disabled passengers are allowed onto the aircraft and Passenger service personnel and aircraft crewmembers will provide assistance in boarding, seating, and deplaning a disabled passenger. The chief of the passenger travel section or the aircraft CDR may disapprove transportation if there is an unacceptable risk to the safety or health of the disabled passenger, other passengers, or crew, or if operational necessity, equipment, or manpower limitations preclude accepting a disabled passenger, service animal, or mobility assistance device. The aircraft Commander is the final approval authority on all matters relating to flight safety.

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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 (DoDI 4515.13 Section 4.7.C or Air Mobility Command Instruction 24-101 Vol 14,  Para 12.63 that states: "The original date and time of sign-up will be documented and remain with the traveler until movement to their declared final destination is complete, their leave terminates, or a maximum of 60 days has passed, whichever occurs first."  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.

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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.
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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 (cargo, tanker etc...). However, on the chartered (Patriot Express) flights there is a per-person (infants are people too!) charge  of $17.80 from CONUS-to-Overseas and $35.20 to Overseas-to-CONUS to cover head tax and inspection fees. Patriot Express fees are made up of two parts: an International Air Transportation Tax ("head tax")  and a Federal Inspection Fee (FIS). 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. For hopping on commercial contract flights "within" CONUS (e.g. Norfolk-JAX and JAX-Norfolk) there is now a head tax fee of $4.00 per passenger and $8.90 OCONUS between Travis and Hickam.  This head tax is one way only.  Prepare to pay the Pat-Ex taxes in cash (US$) (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). - (as of April 2016)

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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.   Bottom line, the best chances of a Space-A seat is to ensure you are in the Terminal BEFORE (I recommend an hour) the posted Roll Call time and hang around the Terminal until the Aircraft departs (as seats can change at any time).
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Can I travel Space-A to Australia or New Zealand?


Australia Option 1:  There are typically 4 flights per month (As of March 2015) from Travis AFB through Hickam, Hawaii and sometimes Andersen, Guam 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.

Australia Option 2:  Space-A to Yokota and then Space-A to Singapore (3 weekly) and then use commercial air from Singapore to Darwin (about $100 or less one way) or Perth (about $200 one way).

Australia Option 3:  Space-A to Hawaii and then check fares on JETSTAR Airlines from Honolulu to Sydney (just under $400 one way).

NOTE:  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 2015) to its Customs and Border agents.

New Zealand:  Space-A to Hawaii and then try for a "rare" mission to Christchurch or try commercial from Australia.

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What is the "Best" Location to get a flight from "A" to "B"?

The "BEST" Location is the one that will have the most Space-A seats available to your desired destination and the least amount of fellow passengers competing for those seats on the day you attempt to travel.  Unfortunately, that's virtually impossible to predict in advance. The "best" route also depends on your Space-A Category as there may be CONUS limitations if you are an unaccompanied dependent.  The "best" route "usually" is from a location that has frequent flights to a destination (e.g. BWI or Dover to Germany) however, since it has frequent flights then you will "usually" find lots of folks competing for those seats from that location.  One day, the "best" route to Europe may be from BWI to Ramstein and the next day it could be from McGuire to Spangdahlem or Andrews to Ramstein.  "Best" may also involve a departure location that has free parking and is easy to return to to pickup your car.  You can check the resources available at to help you decide which is best for you.

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What's the policy on making unused Passenger Seats available for Space-A?

According to DOD Instruction 4500.57, Transportation and Traffic Management, Section 4.3:

Unused passenger space on DoD-owned and -contracted passenger-carrying aircraft, on
all types of missions (e.g., channel, special assignment airlift mission, operational support airlift,
aeromedical evacuation) will be used to the maximum extent possible, including space-available
passengers, pursuant to DoDI 4515.13.

Available seats will be released for space-available travel unless overriding safety (e.g.,

training flights) or operational concerns (e.g., hazardous cargo, customs and border protection,
agriculture, or immigration considerations) or a defined need for security prohibit space-
available travelers on a specific mission.

Situations  where  the  above prohibitions  restrict  Space-A  travelers  from  a particular mission should be the rare exception rather than the rule."

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Can I fly Space-A to Shannon Ireland?

Some flights do stop in Shannon en route to/from Europe but sometimes you may not be allowed to deplane (except for a secure part of the terminal for in-transit passengers) - depends on the mission.  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.  Getting a flight from Shannon would be fairly difficult.

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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).

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What is a SOFA and how can it affect me?

SOFA stands for Status of Forces Agreement.  A status of forces agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a host country (e.g. Germany, Italy, Japan) and a foreign nation  (e.g. USA) stationing forces (military, civilian and contractor..) in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement. A SOFA does not constitute a security arrangement; it establishes the rights and privileges of foreign personnel present in a host country in support of the larger security arrangement. 

Sometimes a SOFA stamp is placed in person's passport.  It's a document or stamp in your passport that shows you are stationed in a country and covered by the Status of Forces Agreement.  The SOFA stamp registers the person and identifies them as having protections and rights under our SOFA agreement.

The SOFA may cover issues like entry and exit into the country, tax liabilities, postal services, or employment terms for host-country nationals, but the most contentious issues are civil and criminal jurisdiction over bases and personnel.

Some SOFAs may restrict your eligibility to use the military Exchange facilities in a country (e.g. retirees cannot utilize the Exchange or Commissaries in Germany).  Overseas Exchange privileges can be found at

Some SOFAs may govern entry procedures into a country when traveling Space-A (e.g. non SOFA personnel arriving at Misawa, Japan have to turn in their passport to the security forces and are not allowed to leave the base until the custom officer comes to Misawa to stamp your passport (possibly the following duty day).

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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).

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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 (possibly funded by your unit so check). However, if you must use unfunded 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 Emergency upgrade period for initial departure should generally be limited to one week however, this upgrade is not applicable for return transportation.   Ref DoDI 4515.13, Section 4.1.F and AMCI24-101V14, 14.9

DoD Civilians may also be eligible for CAT-I Space-A Travel - sample letter available from

Per DoDI 1327.06 (Leave and Liberty Policy and Procedures), Emergency Leave is intended for "Immediate Family" which is defined as "A Service member’s parents, persons who have stood in "Loco Parentis", siblings, children, and the spouse’s parents and siblings."   "Loco Parentis" is Latin for "in the place of a parent" and refers to the legal responsibility of a person to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent (i.e. the person provided for your physical and financial well being as a child).  Grandparents don't qualify as "immediate family" unless they raised you instead of a parent.  It helps if the "Loco Parentis" individual is already documented in DEERS.

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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 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!

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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!!

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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. Learn as much as you can from the FAQ, Pages and associated links. 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 or like going to Las Vegas and can be a gamble - 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.

If you are a "planner" then you may find Space-A overwhelming and stressful. If you like having that warm, comfortable, safe feeling of knowing where you going, when you'll get there, and how much it'll cost, you need to AVOID Space-A. If you enjoy pushing all of your chips on the table and waiting to see what card the dealer turns, then you'll love it.
But be warned, a bad days waiting for seats can be expensive and use up valuable leave time.  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!!


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