If you’re a servicemember, veteran, dependent or any other eligible type of passenger, you may qualify for free accommodations on Space-A flights if a vacancy is available.
What is a Space-A flight?
Space-A stands for space-available flight and is also referred to as military hopping. If a Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft has vacancies when traveling between air bases, eligible persons may fill these seats at no charge, according to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose of Space-A is to give certain types of people the freedom to travel on flights that have vacancies.
Space-A flights can be on commercial airplanes, but they might also be on fuel tankers or cargo aircraft.
The different categories of travelers
Depending on who you are and the reason for your travel, you’re placed in one of six categories. When Space-A considers who gets priority when someone requests to fill a vacancy, the lower categories get picked first. Here are the different categories and what they might include:
Category 1: Emergency leave travel
The emphasis here is on the word “emergency.” People who might qualify for this category include DoD civilian employees who are stationed overseas or full-time American Red Cross employees serving in a military capacity.
Category 2: Accompanied environmental and morale leave (EML)
This might include DoD Dependent School (DoDDS) teachers on vacation or sponsors traveling for EML purposes.
Category 3: Ordinary leave, house hunting TDY
Those on ordinary leave or military members who are house hunting (following PCS orders) generally qualify for this rank.
Category 4: Unaccompanied dependents on EML
Family members on EML are in this tier. This also encompasses DoDDS teachers and their family members.
Category 5: Permissive TDY, students, dependents, post-deployment/mobilization respite absence
If their sponsor is stationed overseas or in Alaska or Hawaii, students fall into this group.
Category 6: Retirees, dependents, reservists and disabled veterans
This category would apply to these types of flyers on vacation, for example.
How to sign up for Space-A flights
Signing up for a Space-A flight is very different from booking a seat on a commercial aircraft. You won’t be using traditional airports or booking accommodation at all; instead, you’ll communicate with an Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger Terminal to reserve a spot.
These are instructions to keep in mind, according to AMC. More information can be found on their website.
- Ensure your eligibility. There are six categories of travel that determine your eligibility for Space-A, with lower categories getting higher priority. This includes emergency leave, unfunded travel, and accompanied or unaccompanied environmental and morale leave (EML). Which category you fall into depends on the reason behind your travel and your duty status.
- Check which locations are available. Review your closest AMC Passenger Terminal through their social media page or website.
- Make sure your documents are in order. Look at which travel documents you need to prepare before your flight. This includes your passport (with visas, if applicable).
- Register at an AMC Passenger Terminal.
- Look at flight schedules. There is a 72-hour flight schedule on the American Forces Public Information Management System (AFPIMS) web page.
- Check-in at the terminal counter. Familiarize yourself with any newly updated flight information and declare that you are present. If everything is in order, the terminal will give you a Space-A call when they’re ready for you to board.
Roam the skies for free with Space-A flights
While not everyone is eligible to ride on a Space-A flight under all circumstances, as long as you meet the basic requirements, you can take advantage of this perk. For more information, contact your nearest AMC passenger terminal.