So you read this blog because you want to fly for free? Have I got a deal for you and it costs NO MILES! Simply put, the USAF travels all over the globe and if they have extra room on the flight, you can go for free. Well, they do insist you pay for the box lunch provided, but we’re talking like $10. Probably more now as it has been a while since my wife and I flew SPACE-A.
You may think it is sacrilegious for a frequent flyer to advocate using Space A travel, but it does have its uses – primarily that it is almost free to use. It is a great service to use if you are young and don’t have much money or you are retired and have more time than money. I remember using it on my honeymoon to travel all over Europe. We flew from Travis AFB (I was stationed at Ft. Ord at the time) taking two days to finally reach Frankfurt. We spent a few days each at Frankfurt, Naples, and Mildenhall, England using them as bases to take day trips to various adventures along the Rhine or to Pompei. We did run into the main problem when you take Space A. That being that we ended up only able to get a hop from Mildenhall to South Carolina and couldn’t get out of there back to California, so we ended up buying commercial tickets to get home before my leave was up.
SPACE-A travel has a lot of rules and categories that determine priority. Here’s something that you may not know – DoD civilians are eligible under certain circumstances. Also civilian dependents for certain reasons.
For those of you who are adventurous, the official Space A site is here. Of there is an app for Space-A (like everything else) that you can find at Takeahop. Both iPhone and Android versions are available and greatly simplifies things so that you don’t have to hang around the Space-A terminal all day long. Armed Forces Crossroads is also an awesome resource for finding bases and flight information.
However, there is a great site that simplifies everything. Created by and called John D.’s Military Space-A Travel Pages, this boils everything you need to know down to an easy to follow dialogue including typical routes and phone numbers to call. Here are some common things John lists to increase your chances of success in getting the flight you want.
- 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.
So good luck and good hunting to those of you out there who want to try this great military benefit. Frequent flyer miles still play a role here. An ideal use for miles is, if you get stuck like we did on your return, you can use miles for a one way flight back home!