Well as simple as anything in the military is… As long as you know the rules, you can profit from them, but if you are not aware of them, you will certainly be disappointed in the results.
You may think it is sacrilegious for a frequent flyer to advocate using Space A travel, but it does have its uses – such as being 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 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.
For those of you who are adventurous, the official Space A site is here. 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.