Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Space A Experience - Part 1

 Today's blog is for all of those military dependents out there who have ever wondered about taking a Space A flight but have yet to do so.  You may have heard of Space A but never really knew what it was all about.   When it comes to flying Space A, the more information you have the better.

Well let’s start with the basics.  Space A stands for Space Available. There are military flights that go around the world each day.  These flights might be relocating people, moving cargo or a variety of other things.  Sometimes these airplanes are not completely full and that is when the available space is offered to the military sponsor and/or their dependents.  Some flights may have 5 open seats, while others may have over 30. 
Who is eligible for Space A?  Well that is a good question.  On a regular day, a uniformed member of the military along with his/her dependents is eligible to fly.  BUT, there are a few reasons that  dependents can fly without their sponsor.  This includes but is not limited to emergency situations, those with deployed sponsors, Command Sponsored OCONUS dependents,  Non-Command Sponsored CONUS located dependents,  Command Sponsored OCONUS dependents on EML. 

I know this sounds a bit confusing, but let me direct you to a site that explains in detail much of this information that I have shared.
I have learned a lot in the last few weeks as I prepared to leave South Korea and fly home Space A to visit my family in the United States.  One of these things is that those flying on Space A are broken down into different categories. Depending upon how and why you are flying, will determine which category you will be assigned to for your trip.

Since I was flying without my sponsor from an OCONUS duty station to CONUS, it put me in Category V (5) of the 6 Categories.   I made the decision to get approval for EML which bumped me up to Category IV.  Here is a summary of the categories:
                   Category I – Unfunded Emergency Leave
                 Category II – AD (Active Duty) on EML and their accompanying family members
                 Category III -   AD and their accompanying family members, House Hunting Permissive TDY, unaccompanied dependents of deployed service members (365 plus day deployment)
                 Category IV -  Unaccompanied dependents on EML or sponsor is deployed for 120 days
                 Category V – Unaccompanied dependents of AD (command/non-command sponsored), Permissive TDY
                 Category VI – Retirees and their accompanied dependents

I must tell you upfront, I am not the adventurous type and doing a trip from South Korea to the United States without my husband but with my 4 daughters in tow, was a big deal for me.  When we moved to Korea, I had to do this same trip but I was on a commercial flight with flight attendants, meals and movies.  From the stories I had heard, Space A would not be the same.  BUT the idea of saving the cost of 5 commercial airlines tickets at $1500.00 a piece is what enticed me. 
Tomorrow I will begin to share my Space A journey from South Korea to the United States with you.  Stay tuned.

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