NEWS | July 10, 2013

What is Space-A Travel?

By Senior Airman Cassandra Warren

Serving in the military has many benefits, including the opportunity to get an education, medical and dental care, Commissary and Exchange privileges and many others. These benefits are only available to those who are serving or have served. Among those benefits, there's one that many service members are not well informed on, and that is Space Available travel.

Space-A is short for "Space-Available air transportation on government-owned or controlled aircraft." When mission and cargo loads allow, there are often seats available to eligible passengers. With a little patience and flexibility, you can travel the world for very little to no cost. It is hard to beat a free flight, with raging airfare prices these days. Free flights to locations like Germany, Hawaii, Great Britain, Alaska, and other overseas and even continental U.S. locations are all available with a little knowledge of how Space-A works ... and patience.

There are five key steps and ideas to remember when traveling Space-A. The first is travel eligibility. Are you authorized to fly Space-A? What category do you fall under? All Active Duty and Retired ID Card holders and their families are eligible for Space-A travel, as well as select spouses, reservists and students. You should always check with your local Passenger Terminal representative to check your eligibility. Once you find out your eligibility, you should know there are a total of six categories of travel. You will fall into one of the following: Category I - Emergency Leave, Category II- Environmental and Morale Leave, Category III - Ordinary Leave or Permissive TDY for House Hunting, Category IV - Unaccompanied Dependents on Environmental and Morale Leave, Category V - Dependents, or Permissive TDY for other than House Hunting, and Category VI - Retirees, Dependents and Reservists. Each individual case is not listed above, but as a general rule these are the folks that fall within each category.

The second step is to understand the travel locations being offered. Where do you want to depart from and where do you want to go? What common destinations are offered at your nearest AMC Passenger Terminal? Here at Charleston we mostly fly to Dover, McGuire, Travis, Ramstein, Hawaii and fairly regularly we fly to some South America locations. Flight information is provided 72 hours in advance, but not earlier because, unfortunately, our travel is only provided on a space available basis and that is the earliest it is available to us. For flight information, please go to the Joint Base Charleston Passenger Terminal Facebook page and "Like" us to get daily updated flight information, call us at (843) 963-3082 for our daily updated flight recording, or call (843) 963-3048 to talk to a live passenger service agent.

The third component of a successful Space-A flight is a documents check. Do you have all your required travel documents? This could include your leave paperwork, valid Uniformed Services ID card, and passport/visa, or other documents required by the location you are traveling to or from. In many cases, this will be different for each traveler depending on his or her status.

Registration is the fourth item on the agenda. You have many choices to register for Space-A travel: in-person, remotely by fax, or even email. Retirees may sign up at any time and remain in our Space-A backlog for up to 60 days, but Active Duty members may not sign- up until their first available day of leave and may only remain in the backlog for the duration of their leave.

Finally, all your legwork is done and you are ready for the fifth and final step ... checking in. At the AMC Passenger Terminal, Space-A passengers must check-in at the counter in order to be marked present for the flight they desire transportation on. Review updated flight information, and ensure you do not exceed baggage weight or size limits...2 pieces, not to exceed 70 pounds per bag, 62 linear inches (length+width+height), and also make sure you are not traveling with any prohibited items such as weapons. Wait for your Space-A call and follow instructions given to you by the passenger service agents.

A few extra bits of information that can be helpful include knowing when it is easiest to travel (summer and major holidays can be very difficult). Also, when you fly on a military aircraft the flight is free unless you purchase a meal, but if you are able to get on one of our commercial contract aircraft with available seats it will not cost you more than $30 per person. Finally, in-flight meals are available for purchase, but what is offered is limited. Your options are usually Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, a salad, or something similar. The cost is right around $4.00 per meal. The commercial contract aircraft have much better meal selections that are included in your ticket price.

Sound difficult? Not really. All this information can easily be answered via our Facebook page or as easy as talking to one of AMC's passenger service agents. We are here to serve our passengers to the best of our knowledge and capabilities. So, what else is stopping you? Do the research and give it some time. You are only questions away from being able to see the world with little to no expense at all. Please feel free to call your nearest passenger service agent for all the information you could need. Once again, the number to your closest agent here at Charleston is (843) 963-3048.