By John W Jackson Jr, USAF Ret.
Flying on military Space A is one of the better privileges awarded to military members, active and retired. Here are some of the ways to improve your chances of obtaining a seat on a flight.
Improve Your Chances of Space A Seat Selection
Not all Space A categories are created equal. But there are a few good strategies to remember to gain as much of an advantage as possible.
Show up at the terminal when you still have 10-15 days left on your sign up. Most sign-ups are for 60 days, but some of the Navy locations are only 45 days. By getting there around this time you are high enough on the list to have some seniority, but still have time enough to wait in case a flight doesn’t come in right away, or one that you thought you would be attempting to get on that day, gets canceled.
Stay at the Terminal
Another thing that has gotten some personnel in the lower Space A categories on flights ahead of less informed higher categories is to never leave the passenger terminal until you are sure that the flight has already departed. There have been times that, at the last minute, there are additional seats added to a flight. Most people leave the terminal if they are not selected for at flight at the roll call. If there are seats, the passenger service representative will ask if there is anyone left in the terminal that would like to get a seat. When there are more people left than there are seats, they will do another roll call, using the same criteria as the first roll call. If, though, you are the only one, or high enough on the list, and still there, then you’ve got your seat.
Expect the Unexpected
Just because a flight does not show on the schedule, doesn’t mean there won’t be a flight. Sometimes flights pop up out of nowhere, with seats. These are unscheduled flights that even the passenger service representatives do not usually know about until the flight lands. Some of these flights never even get placed on the in-house schedule, much less the online schedule for everyone to see. They can come and go very fast, but, if you are there waiting, you could get lucky.
One Time Change
Something that not many people know is that if you get selected for a flight, then change your mind about going; you get a one-time chance on this. You can tell them that you changed your mind and you will not lose your place on the list. Remember though; you can only do this one time per location.
This last one is not really a tip, but more of a warning. Once you are selected for a flight, do not leave the area. Flight times can change at a moment’s notice. The mission comes first, so when they are ready to go, they go. If you are selected and even processed in for a flight that is leaving at noon and they decide to leave at 1000 instead, you better be there, ready to go, or you they will leave without you, and you will have to continue waiting for another flight. They will give you your luggage back if it has already been processed through. You will not receive any special consideration for another flight. You will be marked as missing the flight and will be processed like normal if or when another flight comes in.
A Win for a Fellow Traveler
If you leave the area and miss the flight, then maybe someone else hanging around the terminal, that didn’t get selected for a seat, will get your seat.
Remember to have patience when traveling Space A. Have fun with it. Make an adventure out of it.
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PCSgrades 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 offers sage advice on how to travel using Space-A. For more information about Space-A Travel, visit John’s website UJ Space A Info.