2. Categories of Travel
4. Space A FAQs
5. Tips for Traveling Space A
6. More Space A Information
Space A Travel is a privilege (not an entitlement) that accrues to Uniformed Services members as an avenue of respite from the rigors of Uniformed Services duty. Retired Uniformed Services members are given the privilege in recognition of a career of such rigorous duty and because they are eligible for recall to active duty. The underlying criteria for extending the privilege to other categories of passengers is their support to the mission being performed by Uniformed Services members and to the enhancement of active duty Service members' quality of life.
Space available passengers travel only after all duty cargo and passengers have been accommodated. All available seats are released, but there is no guaranteed movement in the preferred time frame, Have sufficient funds available to complete travel using commercial transportation if necessary.
Space available (Space A) eligible travelers may not use their privilege for personal gain or in connection with business enterprises or employment. Space A travel may not be used to establish a home or when international or theater restrictions prohibit such travel.
Family members may travel within the CONUS when accompanied by their sponsor.
Space A seats are normally identified as early as 2-3 hours and as late as 30 minutes prior to departure. Recommend checking with the passenger service center for the space available show time prior to departing the terminal. Be ready for immediate processing and boarding.
Travelers are assigned a
category (see below) upon registering for travel and compete for seats within categories based on the date and time of registration. This date and time of sign-up is valid through to the final destination; a new date and time are assigned for return travel. Travelers may stand by for any available flight.
Space required passengers or cargo may require the removal of Space A passengers at any point. If removed en route, travelers may re-register with their original date and time of registration. Passenger agents will assign a new date and time to any country changed or added to an application. Names of all originating space available passengers who depart on a flight will be removed from all destinations. Travelers should be prepared to purchase onward or return commercial transportation, meals, and lodging.
Travelers remain on the register for 60 days or the duration of their leave orders or authorization, whichever occurs first.
If you have questions or comments, please contact an AMC supervisor or use AMC Form 253, Air Passenger Comment, available in every major AMC operating location.
when required by the DoD Foreign Clearance Guide. Travel documents must be presented when selected for travel. Travelers may select up to five countries. We recommend the "all" choice for the 5th destination so that the traveler may take advantage of unscheduled unique travel opportunities.
The following documentation is required. Please have them ready for review when selected for travel:
Active Duty Uniformed Services Member: (includes National Guard and Reserve members on active duty in excess of 30 days and Cadets and Midshipmen of the U.S. Service Academies):
Retired Uniformed Service Members:
National Guard and Reserve Members: Authorized Reserve Component Members (National Guard and Ready Reserve) and members of the Standby Reserve who are on the Active Status List:
Retired Reservists Entitled to Retired Pay at Age 60:
Retired Reservists Qualified for Retired Pay:
On Active Duty for 30 Days or Less:
ROTC, Nuclear Power Officer Candidate (NUPOC), and Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) Members: When enrolled in an advanced ROTC, NUPOC, or CEC course or enrolled under the financial assistance program:
Family Members of Uniformed Services Members:
a. Category 1
b. Category 2
c. Category 3
d. Category 4
e. Category 6
NOTE: Baggage weight may be limited due to type of aircraft or other restrictions.
Answer: The answer depends on you! If your travel schedule is flexible and finances permit for a stay (sometimes in a "high-cost" area), while awaiting movement, space available travel is a good travel choice. While some travelers sign up and travel may be the same day, many factors could come together to make buying a commercial ticket your best or only option. Remember, Space A travel success depends on flexibility and good timing.
Answer: The four Services jointly establish Space A eligibility. DoD’s first responsibility is airlifting official DoD traffic. Space A passengers are accommodated only after official duty passengers and cargo.
Answer: All travelers remain on the register 60 days after registration, for the duration of their leave orders authorization, or until they are selected for travel, whichever occurs first. Revalidation has been eliminated.
Answer: Under this program, you may sign up for five different countries rather than five different destinations. You are also eligible for the "ALL" sign-up which makes you eligible for all other destinations served. This gives you a greater selection of destinations from which to choose.
Answer: Remote sign-up allows passengers to enter the backlog by telefaxing copies of proper service documentation along with desired country destinations and family members' first names to the aerial port of departure. The telefax data header will establish date/time of sign-up; therefore, active duty personnel must ensure the telefax is sent no earlier than the effective date of leave. Terminals are not responsible for faxes not received. Mail entries will also be permitted. Some of terminals now accept e-mail sign-up. The original date and time of sign-up shall be documented and stay with the passenger until his or her destination is reached. On reaching destination, the passenger may again sign-up for space available travel to return to home station. NOTE: If applicable, a statement that all required border clearance documents are current, is required.
Answer: Self sign-up is a program that allows passengers to sign-up at a terminal without waiting in line. Most locations now provide self sign-up counters with easy to follow instructions for registration. Active duty personnel must ensure sign-up takes place no earlier than the effective date of leave. If your travel will take you to a foreign country, ensure border clearance documentation is up to date. If you are unsure, verify it with a passenger service representative on duty.
Answer: Each terminal maintains a Space A register (organized alphabetically, by priority and the date and time of registration for travel) that is updated daily. The register is conveniently located in the terminal and directly accessible to you. Travelers may call the terminal direct to find where they stand travel wise.
Answer: Reserve members with DD Form 2 (Red) identification and DD Form 1853 may fly to, from, and between Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the CONUS. Additionally, when on active duty, members may fly anywhere overseas that DoD has flights operating.
Answer: Retired members with DD Form 2 (Blue) identification card may fly anywhere DoD has flights operating, including the CONUS.
Answer: Except EML, Emergency Travel, and Command Sponsored Category V, family members must be accompanied by the sponsor to fly Space A. Family members may also travel to/from and between overseas locations.
Answer: No. Family members may only travel when accompanied by their sponsor.
Answer: The only persons permitted to accompany you are your dependents (not in the CONUS) or other persons eligible for Space A travel. Every effort shall be made to transport passengers with disabilities who are otherwise eligible to travel. Passenger service personnel and crew members shall provide assistance in boarding, seating, and deplaning passengers with special needs.
Answer: Each Service determines their own travel uniform policies. Currently, all the services permit appropriate civilian attire on DoD-owned or controlled aircraft. When civilian clothing is worn, use common sense. Attire should be in good taste and not in conflict with accepted attire in the overseas country of departure, transit, or destination, as defined by the DoD Foreign Clearance Guide. It should also be capable of keeping you warm, especially on military aircraft.
Answer: As a Space A traveler, you may check two pieces of luggage at 70 pounds each per person. Family members traveling together may pool their baggage allowance as long as the total does not exceed the total allowance. You may hand carry only what fits under your seat or in the overhead compartment, if available.
Answer: No. Only duty status passengers may pay for excess baggage.
Answer: Yes. Travel light, take only essentials. Do not place valuables, medicine, or important documents in your check baggage. Be sure your name and current address are on and inside your bags. Terminals have baggage ID tags available for you to use.
Answer: No. DoD has reserved pet shipments for passengers in permanent change of station (PCS) status only. Additionally, travel with pets would be difficult at best due to limited aircraft pet spaces, pet import documentation requirements, and the possibility of quarantine in the event of an aircraft divert.
Answer: In general, no. Some terminals must collect a head tax or a federal inspection fee from Space A passengers on commercial contract missions. Meals may be purchased at a nominal fee out of most air terminals while traveling on military aircraft.
Answer: Facilities at most military terminals are generally the same as commercial facilities. Facilities include exchanges, barber shops, snack bars, pay television (free television lounge in some military terminals), traveler assistance, baggage lockers or rooms, United Services Organization (USO) lounges, and nurseries (at major terminals). The type of facility available will vary according to the terminal size and location. NOTE: Most passenger terminals close at night. Space A travelers should be prepared to defray billeting expenses.
Answer: Although AMC has led efforts to improve Space A travel in the past few years, movement still remains a result of unused seats. Present DoD personnel and budget trends are affecting Space A movement opportunity. AMC is dedicated to putting a passenger in every available seat.
Answer: Any time other than peak travel and holidays (December-January and June-July) periods.
Answer: Yes. Places where we fly often (Germany) are much easier than low frequency areas (Australia or New Zealand).
Answer: Yes. Travelers may obtain Space A travel to Alaska, South America, and other interesting locations; i.e., Australia, New Zealand, etc. Travel to Alaska when departing from the West Coast (Travis AFB, California, and McChord AFB, Washington). Travel to South America and other remote areas is much more difficult. Infrequent flights to remote areas are primarily cargo missions and have few seats available for passenger movement. Expect long waiting periods for movement.
Answer: When traveling on a passport (family members, retired uniform service, reserve, etc.), you may return to the CONUS only through authorized ports of entry where customs and immigration clearance is available. While you may depart the CONUS literally from any military airfield, reentry locations for passport holders are limited. Active duty passengers who do not require immigration clearance have more reentry options open.
Answer: Yes. Travel eligibility is for all DoD-owned or controlled aircraft.
Answer: We encourage you to call the passenger terminal you plan on traveling through 30-60 days before travel. The terminal will be happy to discuss their flight schedule, Space A backlog, movement forecast, etc. If you don’t have the phone number, ask the base operator for the passenger terminal.
Space-available travel is a way for service members and their families to fly for free or for a nominal fee. It’s more complicated than travel by commercial airline, but it can be considerably cheaper.
Competition for seats can be intense, however. Many passengers awaiting Space-A travel during the summer and holiday seasons may end up paying premium rates for unexpected lodging, dining and even commercial airline tickets if no Space-A flight is immediately available.
The biggest disadvantage to Space-A travel is that there are no reservations. Because they are subject to change due to mission requirements, Space-A flights are never guaranteed. Also, there is no guarantee to Space-A passengers that the mission will travel the scheduled route. Space-A travelers can be bumped at any stopping point along the route to accommodate space-required passengers or cargo.
a. Continental U.S. travelCertain family members can travel Space-A within the continental U.S. when accompanied by their sponsor. Family members of active-duty members and retirees drawing retired pay (those who are not “gray area” reservists) can travel Space-A within the continental U.S. when accompanied by their sponsor.
b. ConditionsThe primary mission of Defense Department airlift is the movement of cargo and passengers in support of operational requirements. Both military aircraft and contracted commercial aircraft support this mission. When the mission allows, unused seats may be offered to anyone meeting Defense Department eligibility rules.
Eligible passengers fly only in space not required for duty-status passengers or cargo, and only when they do not interfere with the mission.
No one should consider using Space-A without having the means to switch to a commercial airline or some other form of transportation if they are bumped from a military flight.
Space-A travel is not permitted for personal gain or in connection with business, nor is it authorized for permanent change-of-station or official travel, or when prohibited by international or theater restrictions on movement.
c. DocumentsAnyone traveling Space-A must have a valid military ID card and other documentation required by the Foreign Clearance Guide, to include the military sponsor and all dependents. Other papers necessary for registration may include passports, visas and immunization records. Space-A passengers must present travel documents when selected for travel.
Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which took effect Jan. 23, tourists — including those traveling by Space-A — must have a passport to re-enter the U.S. when they’ve traveled by air or sea through another country, including Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.
d. EligibilitySpace-A is open worldwide to all active-duty members on leave and military retirees receiving retired pay, with a DD Form 2. It is also open to reserve and National Guard members traveling within the U.S. or its territories.
Gray-area retirees — those under age 60 who have qualified for retirement but are not yet drawing retired pay — are eligible for Space-A travel within the U.S. or its territories. Once they reach age 60, start drawing retirement pay and are issued a DD Form 2, they are eligible for worldwide Space-A travel with their dependents.
Under certain circumstances, Defense Department civilians are authorized to travel Space-A when they are on Emergency Leave or Environmental Morale Leave.
Within these broad categories of eligibility, Space-A also can be used in special circumstances. For instance, family members who are command-sponsored and living with their active-duty sponsors stationed overseas can travel without their sponsor to, from and within the overseas theater. This requires a letter signed by the sponsor’s commander verifying the family member’s status.
Family members under age 18 must be accompanied by an eligible parent or legal guardian.
If the service member is on an unaccompanied tour, family members can travel Space-A (Category 3 accompanied, Category 5 unaccompanied) to and from the member’s approved overseas tour location to visit the duty location. The exception to this benefit is travel to Diego Garcia.
Because service members must report to unaccompanied duty in active-duty status, family members cannot accompany them when they initially report to the unaccompanied overseas tour.
Active-duty service members must obtain prior written approval for noncommand-sponsored dependent travel from their installation commanders or designated representatives.
e. Environmental Morale Leave Program
Family members can use Space-A flights overseas under this program, which is generally authorized in areas that are considered austere for Americans.
People on assignment to such areas can fly Space-A twice a year for a change of scenery. Unified combatant commanders determine which duty stations fall in that category and identify the places where people stationed there may travel.
f. FeesThe law directs that a $12 federal inspection fee must be collected from Space-A passengers entering the U.S. on commercial contract aircraft. In addition, Space-A passengers pay a $14.10 transportation tax when entering or departing the U.S. on commercial aircraft.
g. House-hunting tripsSpace-A rules allow a family member to accompany the service member on house-hunting trips in the continental U.S. if the trip is related to a pending permanent change-of-station move and the member is on permissive temporary duty orders for house hunting.
h. College studentsThe military makes some provision for full-time college students under age 23 to travel independently if their parents are stationed overseas. Base personnel offices have details.
i. LuggageThe Defense Department generally allows passengers two pieces of checked luggage weighing no more than 70 pounds each, up to 62 linear inches in size. Some aircraft may have more restrictive allowances. Hand-carried baggage must fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment, if available.
j. MealsPassengers who want meals on military aircraft pay a fee, usually less than $4, depending on the type of meal and travel status of the person. Meals are provided free on commercial contract aircraft. On Patriot Express flights, meals have been upgraded from economy or coach class to business-class equivalent. Some terminals may have limited snack bar facilities and vending machines, so travelers should be prepared to provide their own food. When traveling with young children, be prepared for stops along the way where baby supplies are not available.
k. Sign-upService members can sign up for a Space-A flight in person or by “remote space-available sign-up” at passenger processing activities, such as Air Mobility Command terminals. Wait times vary by cargo load, destination and season. Each passenger processing activity maintains a single Space-A register.
Remote sign-up allows travelers to register by fax, mail, or e-mail. They can fax travel requests to the passenger terminal from which they plan to leave. The advantage to travelers is that they have priority for a seat from the time of receipt of the travel request.
Regardless of how they sign up, service members must be on leave and have a valid military ID. They must remain on leave while waiting and until they complete the travel.
Space-A travelers can sign up for five destinations, with the last selection being “all,” to take advantage of any mission that may come through their departure point.
If signing up in person, passengers use forms available in the air terminal. The forms are stamped with the date and time the person signed up.
Travelers can sign up for all legs of a trip at once. For the return trip, they must sign up again.
Service members who sign up for a flight and are not there when their names are called remain on the waiting list. Only the opportunity to take that particular flight has been lost.
Retirees and unaccompanied family members remain on the Space-A register for 60 days after registration, depending on category. Service members remain on the register for the duration of their leave, but no longer than 60 days.
l. Did you know?Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that took effect Jan. 23, all tourists — including those traveling Space-A — must have a passport to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad by air or sea, including to the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. The Defense Department Foreign Clearance Guide has details; see
143rd Small Air Terminal524 Flight Line DriveNorth Kingstown, RI 02898
SchedulesPhone : (401) 267-3043DSN: 476-3043