OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
For service members and their families, being stationed overseas can make traveling more accessible, yet the costs can still be expensive. Through the Space-Available travel program, getting around can be much more affordable.
Space-A travel, also known as hops, are open seats in military owned or contracted aircraft not being filled by people on orders. As an incentive, those seats are opened and, based on priority, individuals without tickets can fill the spots receiving low-cost travel.
"Space-A is a great program to take advantage of and we want everyone to know it is available to them," said Master Sgt. Kyle Paquette, 731st Air Mobility Squadron passenger service superintendent.
The secret is out for the Osan passenger terminal with 11,412 open seats filled through Space-A in the past year, but many may not know how to navigate the program.
There are two different kinds of travel on military aircraft: space required and space available. Space required is reserved for official travel such as permanent change of stations and temporary duties. Space-A, however; is travel authorized by the Department of Defense for passengers to occupy the surplus of seats after all space-required passengers and cargo have been accommodated.
While the costs are low, passengers are still required to pay taxes depending on the flight. The price can range up to $30, but being so inexpensive, flying Space-A is competitive, so interested travelers should sign up as soon as possible to reserve their spot.
Priority is based off the six categories of Space-A travel. The categories are numbered in their number of necessity as following: Category 1, emergency leave; Category 2, environmental and morale leave; Category 3, ordinary leave; Category 4, unaccompanied command sponsored environmental and morale leave; Category 5, unaccompanied command/non-command sponsored dependents; Category 6, retired military.
After a traveler is signed up for Space-A, they are eligible to check into the terminal on the day of the flight they wish to board. Priority, after categories, is not with who checked in first, but who signed up first.
"If you go on leave at midnight, you cannot sign up until after midnight," said 1st Lt. Bryn Sowa, 731st AMS passenger service officer in charge. "But since we aren't a 24-hour terminal you can't come in and sign up in person after duty hours. While you can sign up in person, priority comes on a first-come, first-serve basis, so emailing or faxing your leave paperwork can increase your chances."
Trends show PCS season, the holidays, and the beginning of each month with less availability for Space-A slots.
Projected availability is released 72 hours ahead of time. The best way to monitor space-A travel is through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OsanPassengerTerminal
, as it is updated twice a day. Individuals are also welcome to call the passenger terminal or visit http://www.amc.af.mil/amctravel/index.asp
for more information.
"If you have questions, we're here to help," she said. "Customer service is our number one mission. Some people are afraid to call because they think they're bugging us, but that's our job."