Space-A flights easy on the wallet

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Matthew Opdyke
  • 97th Intelligence Squadron
Many people have heard the phrase, "if it's free, then it's too good to be true." For many team Offutt members, however, that's not the case with space available travel.

As a military member, family member or military retiree, Space-A may be a great travel option at little to no cost. With a little research you can get to where you want to go and save a bundle.

Travelers who would like to find out whether or not they qualify for a Space-A flight can visit the Air Mobility Command Web-site to gather information on the military's various travel policies.

One of several AMC policies states that family members of military personnel are eligible for unaccompanied travel from one location to another during the deployment period of a military member who has been deployed for more than 120 days, once they have obtained signed approval from their squadron commander.

After registering for Space-A travel, it can be helpful to consider what nearby bases provide this service. Offutt is one such base.

Tom Kovy, a logistics management specialist with the 55th Mission Support Group said Offutt provides flights to Peterson AFB, Colorado., Scott AFB, Illinois and Andrews AFB, Md.

"From these locations, known as portal bases, a traveler can reach other destinations within the continental United States or world-wide," he said.

He noted that Air National Guard bases in Sioux City, Iowa, and Lincoln, Neb., as well as McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., are nearby and provide Space-A travel.

Although coordinating a specific Space-A flight location can require extra time in research, Mr. Kovy explained that there are financial advantages to using Space-A.

"Space-A flights within the continental United States are free," he said.

"McConnell is about a five-hour drive and has regular flights to RAF Mildenhall (in the United Kingdom)," said Richard Kennedy, a logistics management specialist, also with the 55th MSG.

"You can save time if you travel to nearby bases for flights that will take you where you want to go," he added.

Whether you decide to travel from Offutt or another base, many would agree it's helpful to consider what to bring or what you'll need.

"Most of the planes that fly out of Offutt are climate controlled and you won't need blankets to stay warm," said Mr. Kovy. "However, be aware of the type of aircraft you'll be traveling on. Not all military aircraft are heated uniformly. So, bring a pillow, a blanket and dress in layers.

"You'll want to bring lunch or a bottle of water with you since most flights are three hours long and meals aren't provided due to the short distance," he said.

Mr. Kovy explained the majority of the Space-A flights from Offutt use C-21s.

"These flights allow up to seven Space-A passengers and no more than a 30-pound bag," he said.

He also reminded travelers to remember to bring a military or family member identification card.

"You'll need it to get on the plane," he said.

Once you are prepared and ready for that flight, it is time to enjoy the ride.

"I used to fly Space-A when I was on active-duty and traveled to various overseas locations," Mr. Kovy recalled.

While on active duty, Mr. Kovy was stationed at Travis AFB, Calif. From there he would hop on Space-A flights to visit his friend, who was stationed at Norton AFB, Calif., about a seven-hour car drive away.

"After I got married, I was stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea, and my wife was stationed at Clark AB, Phillippines," he said. "We were having a child, and I hopped there for the birth."

Many would agree that there are many opportunities to save money on travel to destinations we would like to go.

"Ultimately," Mr. Kennedy said, "it pays to do your research before showing up to get on a hop. It's good to know where you want to go, limit your group of passengers to one or two individuals and be prepared to pay for a return flight using commercial airlines, in case a return flight isn't available."

For the latest Offutt Space-A travel information, call 294-7111.

For more general information regarding Space-A travel, visit www.takeahop.org, http://www.baseops.net/spaceatravel/ or http://www.military.com/Travel/TravelPrivileges/(Sergeant Opdyke is a volunteer staff writer for the 55th Wing Public Affairs office)