The Military Retiree Advantage When Traveling Space A

By John W Jackson Jr, USAF Ret.

Military Space A flights, otherwise known as HOPS, are available to authorized personnel after all mission requirements have been met and there is still sufficient space available to accommodate passengers safely.  Always remember that Space A is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be revoked at anytime, for everyone.  Also, flights are never guaranteed and you should always have a backup plan….or two.

Uniformed services retirees who are receiving retirement pay and possess a blue retiree ID card can travel Space-A with their dependents anywhere that Space-A is allowed.  Retiree dependents are only allowed to travel with their sponsor. They cannot travel by themselves or with another retiree.  If the sponsor dies, then the dependent no longer has Space A privileges.

People authorized to travel on military Space A flights are prioritized.  There are six (6) different categories (Cats) for determining the status.   At the bottom of those categories, Cat 6, is the group that includes military retirees.  Although there are others that qualify under this category, you can see the official AMC category page at AMC Space A Travel Categories, the majority of the people using this category are retirees.

Military Retiree Advantage

As a retiree using Space A, we have, what I believe to be an advantage, despite being at the bottom of the totem pole.  Those in the other 5 categories, and even the other people within Cat 6, need special paperwork. They also have a lot of restrictions and/or can only sign up at certain times.  The retirees can sign up whenever they have a desire to do so.  All they need to bring is their blue retiree military ID card and a valid passport if traveling overseas.  If the retiree has a spouse and/or children, then they will need their IDs and proof that they are enrolled in DEERS.  After signing up for Space A, a retiree can just show up, or not show up, their choice.  Most retirees are usually not in a hurry and can travel … whenever.

Now there are certain times of the year that retirees should not try to travel if they are planning on going to or from an overseas location.  During the summer months or during the Christmas holidays is a very bad time to attempt Space A travel.  Basically, anytime that children are out of school for an extended time, it’s a bad time for the lower Space A categories to attempt to travel, especially Cat 6.  Most likely you will be waiting in vain and never get a flight.  You could get lucky though, it’s not impossible.  Normally if you want to travel within the lower 48 US States, you can travel at any time and it’s only a small difference, if any, in the number of passengers and the wait times.

Got Time on our Hands

Usually a retiree’s best asset for using Space A is time.  They have all the time in the world to wait for a flight. If it’s this week or next week, it usually really doesn’t matter too much.  Also, being older and knowing the ways of the military, has taught most retirees patience, which is something that is required of all Space A travelers.  The adage “Patience is a Virtue” is something to live by when traveling Space A.

Author: John W Jackson Jr. retired from the Air Force in 1993. He’s been married to a Filipina for just over 37 years. They have a son and four grandsons. They’ve lived in the Philippines for the past seven years but frequently make visits back to Texas. John is an avid NFL fan and his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. He likes John Wayne, Hank Williams Jr, listening to older country music and a nice steak (medium well)! When he is not involved with the Empire Builder series games or playing dominoes, he offers sage advice on how to travel using Space A.

14 thoughts on “The Military Retiree Advantage When Traveling Space A

  • Very helpful and answer most of my questions. We still have to go for our first Space A flight.

    • Thanks for the compliment and you’re welcome. Space A is a privilege that should be used, but not taken advantage of. You can get any further questions answered here and/or you can contact me at my website and I will be happy to answer them. If I don’t happen to know the answer, I can probably direct you to a place that can. One way or another I hope that you get all your questions answered.

  • What is the best way to SpaceA to Clark/Subic from Chicago?
    I was advised to SpaceA to Guam and just fly commercial Cebu Pacific to Manila.
    Im retired FilAm AF cat 6.

    • Hi Rod! Thanks for asking, but we typically default to John Jackson who is our expert. You can check out his sight and reach out for guidance at We hope he can help!

    • Hey Rod.

      I actually have a little snippet that kind of explains this situation. It gets asked quite a bit. I will post that here and if you still have questions, please join my free Facebook group and I can explain it to you further. My Facebook group:
      The first thing, traveling Space A coming to the Philippines (I live in the Philippines), is to make your way to Travis AFB in CA. They have the flights going to Kadena or Yokota that will get you to the Philippines.
      The snippet: Although Kadena usually does have the most flights to the Philippines, those flights are usually very unpredictable. They get canceled and changed a lot. I live in the Philippines and I have discovered that the most guaranteed way to get here is via Yokota AB. They have flights to Singapore 2 or 3 times per week and from Singapore it is an inexpensive commercial flight to the Philippines. JetStar is the least expensive, but they do not go to Clark and they do not have very many flights. Tiger Air & Cebu Pacific are budget airlines with flights to lots of areas of the Philippines, Tiger Air having the most to Clark.
      Kadena, Hickam, Yokota and Andersen all have flights to the Philippines at times, but if you don’t have time to or don’t want to wait around, then Yokota-Singapore-Philippines is the best route.

  • I am a AF retiree and want to go Space A to Europe, but once there, then what. I’d like to hear from others who have done this. Where did they stay, on and off base, how did they get around. Did they rent a car, use local transportation. For instance, if I arrive at Ramstein or MIldenhall what do I do next. Really, what I am looking for is the details of what they did right and what they did wrong. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *