The Space Available Travel program, better known as Space-A or HOPS, offers Department of Defense members and their families open seats on flights at no charge. Hurlburt Air Force Base recently joined the ranks of participating bases in the the Space-A program, according to the base's news page.

Hurlburt Field welcomes HOPS

The first Space-A flight took off from Hurlburt Field April 8, 2017, en route to Las Vegas, Nevada. The efforts follow three months of planning and execution by the 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation team and it amounted to a major success.

"The efforts follow three months of planning and execution."

This unique privilege offered to active duty military servicemembers, retirees, and their families lets eligible passengers fill unused seats on military aircraft at no cost. With Hurlburt Field now supporting air travel for the Space-A program, Gulf Coast servicemembers can take advantage of this great opportunity.

Master Sgt. James Tompkins, superintendent of air terminal and aerial delivery at Hurlburt Field, noted that a study showed the 1st SOLRS air transportation shop fell under the classification for both an aerial delivery shop and a small terminal. This officially made Hurlburt a Space-A supported base and kickstarted the entire process. 

The source noted leave status, type of leave and a first-come, first-serve will form the basis for seat assignment.

  • Emergency leave.
  • Environmental morale leave.
  • Active duty military on leave.
  • Dependents when sponsors are deployed.
  • Command sponsorship.
  • National Guard, Reserves and retirees.

"Colonel Palenske has said if it's going to improve our Airmen's lives and not going to be a negative factor let's go ahead and do it," explained Lt. Col. John Klohr, commander of the 1st SOLRS. "It's a way of saying 'thank you for your service'."

This provides another opportunity for both active duty military members, veterans and their families to take advantage of free air travel.


Other travel options

While the HOPS program offers a great benefit for current and discharged soldiers, it's not the most reliable means of transportation for someone on a strict schedule with little room to maneuver. These flights don't operate like normal commercial aircrafts. This means there typically isn't a backup flight if the plane gets diverted or canceled, in addition to there not being any guaranteed seats in the first place. Servicemembers should still seek out any opportunities for Space-A flights when they get the itch to travel, but they should remember they also have other discounted recreational options available to them.

The U.S. army also manages the Armed Forces Recreation Center, which offers affordable joint service hotels and resorts for servicemembers and their families. These locations in Florida, Hawaii, Germany and South Korea are great destinations for a vacation.

The Armed Forces Vacation Club arranged low rates for the military at more than 3,500 companies, including hotels, resorts, campgrounds, cruise lines, air fare, rental cars and more.

From HOPS to discounted travel options, active duty military members have many convenient options to take a much-needed vacation, visit family or go on a new adventure.