Flexibility key to airpower, Space-A

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Have you ever dreamed of climbing the steps of an Egyptian pyramid or schussing down a black diamond ski slope in Bavaria? Or perhaps digging your toes in the sand on a Hawaiian beach is more your speed.

Well, there is a perfect way to make these dreams become a reality: space-available travel.

Typically, these dreams require more money than most people have readily available. However, with Space-A, money is not an issue. Space-A travel is free with the exception of customs fees on some Patriot Express missions. All you need are your bags, a Department of Defense-issued ID card (for ages 10 and up), current leave paperwork (for active-duty personnel) and flexibility. More than 130,000 Space-A travelers take advantage of this military benefit.

By being flexible, you and your family can have a great travel experience. Air Mobility Command aircraft fly all over the globe and often have open passenger seats available that can fly you across the country or better yet, halfway around the world. An AMC aircraft takes off every 90 seconds. The only cost is some planning effort and time and if you can afford flexible traveling dates. Since missions can be rerouted, delayed or cancelled for a variety of reasons -- weather, maintenance issues or higher priority missions -- plan extra time for any potential delay. Save those credit card airline miles for the Thanksgiving trip to grandma's.

Traditionally, dependents had to travel with their sponsor. As of 2007, that policy was modified to allow dependents of deployed military members to use the Space-A program. The caveat is the sponsor must be deployed for at least a 120 day or longer deployment.

Signing up for Space-A is easy with four different methods. Your choices are signing up in person at the passenger terminal or remotely via telephone, fax or e-mail. You must provide your name (sponsor and all traveling dependents), rank (active-duty members only), and destination(s) desired. Active-duty members must be on leave to sign up and must also present their leave form as proof at the terminal.

You can also use the DOD-chartered airlift missions for Space-A travel, if seats are available. You will not be able to visit your grandson in Iraq, but can travel to Germany if the aircraft transitions there. 

If traveling overseas, ensure you know the restrictions of the host country. Status of Forces Agreements restrictions, U.S. State Department Travel Advisory guidelines, the Foreign Clearance Guide and passport and visa requirements are all necessary items to research. For example, if you are a retiree traveling to Germany, you are not authorized to purchase items in the base exchange but you can go off base and shop in the local community. You can get this information by calling the local passenger terminal at that location. Arm yourself with the right knowledge and you'll save yourself some frustration.

For more information, visit the AMC travel Web site at www.amc.af.mil/amctravel.