By Kristin Mickelson: Navy Vet, Navy Spouse
If you are in the Armed Forces, or a dependent of an Armed Forces member, you might not know what Space-Available (Space-A) travel is. Or, maybe you have heard that it is possible to travel around on military cargo planes with your family, but the process seems murky and confusing.
Space-A refers to the practice of traveling when a military flight has unused or unassigned seats aboard: think extra seats available when flying a tank from location A to location B. For free. Yes- I just said free… mostly. Sometimes there is an $8.00 surcharge if you are flying overseas, but other than that, free.
My husband and I have successfully traveled from Virginia to Seattle and back 2 times. We have saved $8,000.00 so far on plane tickets for our family of four to fly round trip twice from Norfolk, VA to Seattle, WA.
Space-A was once a shadowy, nebulous, and mysterious thing for us too. My cousin married an Army Man who was stationed in Hawaii. She spent the time he was deployed flying back and forth to her family in Manassas, VA on military cargo planes and medic flights. Once she dropped in on us near Everett, WA and we were able to pick her brain for more information.
Facebook is the key.
What? Facebook? Yes. Facebook.
If you don’t already have a Facebook account, make one. It’s free, you only need to supply an email address. Why is Facebook important? Almost every Air-Force and Navy run military installation that has a passenger terminal and Space-A flights post their flight schedule routinely to Facebook. Most installations only post flights 72 hours (or less!) from lift off so there is NO planning ahead, no security, and no certainty. Flights are subject to change with little to no notice, so once you see a flight you want to get on keep checking on it. Obsessively.
I can already hear you thinking, “Why do they do this? It seems like a huge inconvenience…” It can be, don’t get me wrong, sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes it doesn’t. You must be flexible and willing to adapt. The reward is most definitely worth the risk!
If you are still with me, begin on this next part right now!