2/5/2016 – RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — For most Airmen, coordinating travel arrangements is the most stressful part of a vacation. The time it takes to get from point A to point B and the associated costs add up to be significant stressors, so weighing your options is key to reducing stress and saving money.
One valuable option is in the form of the space-available travel program. Space-A is a travel benefit that allows authorized passengers to occupy Department of Defense aircraft seats that are surplus after all space-required passengers and cargo have been accommodated. Its travel is allowed on a non-mission interference basis only and authorized personnel include uniformed service members, their dependents, DOD civilians, foreign exchange service members, retirees and their dependents (must be accompanied).
The majority of Space-A flights are offered by Air Mobility Command and seats are normally free, except for Patriot Express flights (the AMC’s commercial charter flights). These flights require a small tax be paid. However, space available flights using military aircraft can take you to worldwide locations including the U.S., Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Japan and South Korea.
Of all the locations available to Space-A, however, Ramstein Air Base, Germany stands out because of the speed of its many operations. According to Staff Sgt. Sean Cyphert, 721st Aerial Port Squadron passenger service supervisor, pace of operations at the base’s terminal makes some aspects of Space-A difficult to use on Ramstein.
“Ramstein has the busiest terminal in the 435th Air Mobility Squadron, running 33% of the Air Force’s entire PAX mission,” said Cyphert. “Because we are usually processing multiple flights at once, using some services, such as virtual roll-call, isn’t plausible.”
Because of this, Cyphert believes passengers should exercise patience when using Space-A. “We’re not a business or a company, and we cannot guarantee you a flight due to the nature of the mission,” said Cyphert.
Although Space-A requires more patience than booking a flight with commercial airline, according to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pacheco, Bravo Company 213 Aviation Regiment instructor writer, it has been well worth it. “Me and my entire family have traveled through Space-A three times now,” said Pacheco. “We’ve managed to save thousands of dollars.”
When it comes to traveling, there are many ways to get around the world. For those willing to be flexible with their transportation, Space-A can provide an easy and very cheap solution to traveling woes. There are three ways of registering your name in the Space-a system. The first two are to either visit the Ramstein Passenger Terminal’s service desk or call at DSN 479-4440. The third option is to register online.
Note: Active duty service members must ensure they are signed out on leave before signing up for Space-a.
1) Visit www.ramstein.af.mil/units/ramsteinabpassengerterminal and click the “Space Available Sign Up” link
2) Input your information per the template provided in the email that pops up, then send it to the address (auto-filled for you already)
3) YOU are responsible for tracking which flights come in. You can do this by calling the PAX or by visiting their Facebook page, which provide the arrival dates for inbound flights as well as a 72-hour departure schedule for outbound ones
4) Passengers must attend roll call at PAX three and a half hours prior to departure.
When it comes to scheduling your vacations, planning travel is just important as it is stressful. Having a wide array of choices can help this process, and Space-A is a money-saving option available for members within the Kaiserslautern Military Community. If you can stay patient and open-minded, then the possibilities of where it can take you are literally around the world.
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Author: Airman 1st Class Lane T. Plummer, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Reprint from July–August 2016 • Volume 46, No. 4