Space A Travel

Space A or space available traveling is a fantastic perk of being in the military. There are tons of people who use it every day to fly all over the world. My husband and I just traveled space A for the first time to and from and States.  Luckily for us, we managed to not run into any major problems.  We flew from Ramstein to BWI and our return flight was from BWI to Ramstein. Space A traveling is selected by category and date and time of sign up. There are different rules for different categories. We traveled as CAT III because my husband is Active Duty and is on leave.
     Taken directly from the AMC (Air Mobility Command) website. Please read and make sure you understand what category you are in! 

Category I:
- Emergency travel in connection with serious illness, death, or impending death of a member of the immediate family of the following:
- United States citizen civilian employees of the DoD stationed overseas.
- Full-time, paid personnel of the American Red Cross serving with United States military services overseas.
- Uniformed service family members whose sponsors are stationed within the Continental United States (CONUS) and the emergency exists overseas.
- Family members of United States citizen civilian employees of the DoD when both sponsor and dependents are stationed overseas at the same location.

Category II:
- Sponsors on environmental and morale leave (EML) and accompanied family members.
- DoD Dependent School (DoDDS) teachers and their accompanied family members in EML status during school year holiday or vacation periods.

Category III:
- Members of the uniformed services in an ordinary or re-enlistment leave status and uniformed services patients on convalescent leave. Members on convalescent leave may not travel overseas unless their leave form is so annotated.
- Military personnel traveling on permissive temporary duty (TDY) orders for house hunting.
- If the permissive TDY is for the purpose of permanent change of station house hunting, the member travels in Category III and can be accompanied by one family member.
- Dependents of military members deployed for more than 365 consecutive days.
- Bona fide family members (up to age 23 with a valid identification card) of a service member of the uniformed services when accompanied by their sponsor who is in an ordinary leave status within overseas areas between overseas stations and air terminals in the CONUS.
- This privilege does not apply to travel of dependents to or from a sponsor's restricted or unaccompanied tour location or to travel in a leave status to or from TDY locations. It applies only to round-trip travel to an overseas area or the CONUS with the sponsor. DoD 4515.13-R restricts use of these privileges to establish a home for family members in an overseas area or the CONUS.
- Foreign exchange service members on permanent duty with the DoD, when in a leave status.

Category IV:
- Dependents of military members deployed for more than 120 consecutive days.
- Unaccompanied family members (18 years or older) traveling on EML orders. Family members under 18 must be accompanied by an adult family member who is traveling EML.
- DoDDS teachers or family members (accompanied or unaccompanied) in an EML status during summer break.

Category V:
- Unaccompanied Command-sponsored dependents.
- Students whose sponsor is stationed in Alaska or Hawaii.
- Students enrolled in a trade school in the CONUS when the sponsor is stationed overseas.
- Military personnel traveling on permissive TDY orders for other than house hunting.

Category VI:
- National Guard/Reserve components/members of the Ready Reserve and members of the Standby Reserve who are on the Active Status List.
- Retired military members who are issued DD Form 2 and eligible to receive retired or retainer pay.
- Family members (with a valid identification card) of retired members when accompanied by a sponsor. 

     Within each category there are different rules about signing up. You need to sign up at each location you might be flying out of. For us, Ramstein was our only option to fly to the states but when flying home we had multiple locations along the east coast, so we signed up with 5 different passenger terminals. You will email each location this information: 
- Leave Form and/or dependent command sponsorship as applicable - not required for e-mail sign-up (optional)
- Names of travelers (Last, First, and Middle Initial)
- If active duty - Leave start and End Dates
- SSN for active duty and Passport numbers for dependents
- Branch of service of the sponsor
- Rank of sponsor
- Rank of dependents (END = enlisted dependent / OFD = officer dependent)
- Emergency Point of Contact info (Name, address, and telephone #) address=number, street name, city, state
- Date of birth for all travelers (DD/MMM/YYYY)  (i.e. 25 DEC 1987)
- Country of Residence
- Nationality
- Passport country of issue and expiration date (DD/MMM/YYYY)  (i.e. USA / 14 JAN 2014)
- Ultimate destination (address, city, state, zip code) If traveling to Charleston, but you are headed to Oklahoma, the destination should reflect and Oklahoma address.
- and country of choice for travel (example: USA)

     If you send all of this info ahead of time, when you get marked "present" your time will be expedited.  If you don't send all of this info, we are required to input this info upon the first time you present yourself for travel. (Taken from the Ramstein Passenger Terminal Facebook Page)
 When you email this information in you will not get a response. They have way too many emails coming in to respond to them. To make sure your information made it and your date and time of sign up are correct be sure to print out your email with the date and time. If something happened when sending in your email or it got over looked, they will honor the date and time of sign up from your printed email. You may be wondering where the date and time of sign up comes to play. Yes, there are categories but within each category people are put in order according to their time of sign up. If you are a CAT III (active duty on leave) you can NOT sign up before your leave starts. So my husband’s leave started 17 May, so we were eligible to sign up at 12:01am 17 May. If you are a CAT IV-VI you can sign up 60 days in advance but it’s only good for 60 days. If you sign up exactly 60 days from when you want a flight and then don’t get on that flight, your sign up is no longer good on day 61. So give yourself a few days of adjustment if you don’t get on a flight.
Within CAT III we signed up on 17 May at 12:01am. Someone else in CAT III may have signed up 17 May at 6:00am; therefore we are listed before them because our sign up time was earlier. Each category is listed this way.
The locations that have space available flights list their flights 72 hours in advance (search for their Facebook page for updates). They list the destination, tentative seat numbers and the roll call time. You must mark yourself present before roll call time or your name will not be selected for a flight. To mark yourself present you must check in at the terminal with the proper documentation (ID cards, passports, leave form or command sponsor letter) and be travel ready, meaning you and your luggage are ready to board a flight. Around 20 minutes before call time of a flight they will post all passengers that have checked in on a scrolling list. It will be in order of category and date and time of sign up. It will also list the number of seats requested by each person. The list will look like this:
4. King, C        CAT III    seats 2
5. Smith, T      CAT III    seats 4
6. Johnson, S   CAT III    seats 1
And the list will continue through CAT IV, V and VI. At this time you’ll be able to get a better idea of your chance of getting on the flight. They will start at the top of the list and call each person. If that person accepts the flight the seat numbers will begin to drop. If your name is called and you are not there you are removed from the list and put at the very bottom! If you are chosen for a flight then you’ll immediately check your baggage and go through security to prepare boarding for the flight. If you are flying out of Ramstein to BWI or visa versa you will be on the patriot express which is a commercial flight. You will have to pay a head tax per person of $29.10 and will be served a meal. If you are flying on a military aircraft make sure you are wearing closed toed shoes! You can also buy a meal for $4.60.
Ramstein Passenger Terminal
All of this information is very easy, you just have to make sure you follow and understand all the steps. The part that gets frustrating is not getting a flight. When my husband and I were trying to fly out of Ramstein we kept looking at flights we wanted. We were hoping for a flight on Saturday the 25th, there was one listed but it was then moved to Sunday. We drove to Ramstein Saturday knowing there was a flight early Sunday morning to Birmingham with 20 seats. When we arrived to check in at the terminal the seats had already been dropped down to 9. We of course did not get on this flight so our next option was a flight to BWI on Monday. We stayed another night at Ramstein and hoped for the best on Monday. The flight to BWI had 153 seats so our chances were much higher! We were selected for this flight at made it to BWI. My in-laws reserved us a rental car so we could drive to NC. Coming home was a little more stressful. We knew there was a flight from BWI to Ramstein Tuesday the 28th with 52 seats. We were not real confident we’d get on this flight and weren’t sure we wanted to risk driving 6 hours to BWI for only 50 seats. There was also a flight from Norfolk to Ramstein but we called to ask about seat numbers and they were not sure if they were even accepting space A travelers. They were unsure if the military personnel on the plane would be carrying weapons or not and if they were we would not be allowed. We took our chances and drove to BWI. We got very lucky and got seats on this flight, there were only 4 seats left after our name was called.
Flying space A may be stressful at times but getting a free flight across the Atlantic is definitely worth it!! Please remember space A flights can change at any time! Flight times, destinations and seat numbers can change even minutes before a flight. Also know that actual flight times and order of destinations (if multiple stops on one flight) are not listed online due to OPSEC rules. If you have specific questions about flights call the terminal to get more detailed information. Just remember to be very flexible and prepared for anything!
Don't expect anything fancy or comfortable!