Few retired military benefits are as welcome as the eligibility to fly for free to several locations on the globe. Many senior couples today enjoy this benefit from their military service and several have organized "clubs" and "associations" that meet in different locations each year in a foreign country of their choice.
Space-A means flying on a "space available" basis aboard military aircraft at little or no cost. It’s one of the best perks of military service – if you approach it with an open mind and a flexible schedule. You must understand that the military is not originating this flight for your convenience--you just happen to be at the right spot at the right time with the right documents ( request form, identification, passport and others we'll talk about later)
Air Mobility Command (AMC), based at Scott Air Force Base, manages the Air Force’s worldwide airlift operations, which includes the Space-A program. AMC’s website (www.amc.af.mil) describes Space-A travel as "a privilege, not an entitlement." That’s your first clue about how to approach these flights. If you align expectations to this way of thinking, then Space-A offers great adventures. But if you’re looking for an "entitlement" with benefits such as first-class seating or in-flight movies, then Space-A will be a disappointment to you from the get-go.
Passengers are permitted one hand-carried baggage item and one personal item (purse, briefcase, etc.).. The rules for checked luggage are less restrictive than commercial rules, too, allowing each passenger up to two pieces of luggage at 70 pounds each. Another big plus: Families can pool that weight allowance. For instance, our family could have checked up to 280 pounds of luggage. This may change when the aircraft is smaller than the average bear. For instance, some flights on the smaller executive jets allow only 30 lbs baggage per person.
The flights are categorized according to priority. The passengers are Military on active duty moving from one duty station to another on orders to retired military and their dependants going on vacation. The category is defined by the Air Mobility Command (AMC )and DOD.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 CAT II: EML (Active Duty and their accompanied dependents) CAT III: Active Duty Ordinary Leave and accompanied dependents,, House Hunting Permissive TDY, Medal of Honor Holders, dependents of deployed service members whose sponsor is deployed in excess of 365 days (selected behind active duty members regardless of date/time of sign up) CAT IV: Unaccompanied Dependents on EML or dependents of deployed service members who's sponsor is deployed in excess of 120 days but less than 365 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
Flight schedule links and additional information on Space-A may be found at; http://WWW.wesupportthevets.com and also here on allvoices.com. We will present some future articles on the sign-up procedure and also relate a few travel reports from users of this seldom used benefit for retirees and service personnel and their families.