For most military travelers, it has been at least two years since their last Space-A flight. Air Mobility Command (AMC) temporarily suspended Space-A travel for most categories of travelers in March 2020, but all restrictions were lifted last month.
READ: Space-A travel just reopened: Here’s what changed since your last ‘hop’
If you’re ready to take your first “military hop” since the COVID-19 pandemic began, here’s how to prepare:
Get up to speed on how Space-A works
Review the AMC website’s Space-A Travel Page to learn about eligibility, read the instructions and find out how to sign up.
If you are new to Space-A, make sure you understand the full process before trying for your first flight. In particular, you should understand which Space-A category you’re in and any associated restrictions on where you can fly.
Also, a few things about Space-A travel have changed over the past two years, so if you’ve flown Space-A in the past, make sure you have the latest information.
Put the passenger terminal phone numbers on speed dial
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most military passenger terminals posted their 72-hour flight schedules on their respective Facebook pages. They usually updated those schedules throughout the day with any changes.
Now that most AMC terminals have migrated from Facebook to their respective pages on the AMC website (one of the aforementioned changes to Space-A travel), many of those terminals aren’t updating flight schedules as frequently. As of this writing, some AMC terminals still have not completed their migration from Facebook.
So to find the most current flight schedules, call the passenger terminals directly. To find their phone numbers, scroll down to the Passenger Terminal Directory on the AMC Travel Site.
Research COVID-19-related requirements
Per AMC Headquarters, masks are still required in AMC passenger terminals and on DOD aircraft. This requirement applies to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
Before you travel to or from a foreign country, research their COVID-19 mitigation strategies, because they do apply to Space-A passengers. These requirements might include proof of vaccination, pre-departure testing, mandatory quarantine upon arrival, and/or mask wearing (some countries even specify what type of mask is acceptable).
Note that if a country has not yet reopened for tourists, you cannot fly there as a Space-A passenger unless you are stationed in that country.
Finally, as of this writing, a negative COVID test is required within a day prior to departure for all passengers (regardless of vaccination status) flying to the U.S. from a foreign country. Before you travel, research your options for obtaining a COVID-19 test in the location from which you expect to travel to the U.S. Do not assume that the local military hospital or health clinic can provide free testing.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you cannot board a flight back to the U.S. and will be subject to the local quarantine requirements.
Know what to bring to the passenger terminal
In addition to a mask and any COVID19-related documentation you determined that you need, you should bring several other items on the day of your flight.
Those include leave forms or travel authorization memos (if you’re an unaccompanied dependent). When traveling to/from a foreign country, remember to bring your passport.
For any Space-A flight, bring plenty of activities and snacks for yourself and your children, because you will spend at least a few hours waiting in the passenger terminal.
Unless you are hopping a Patriot Express (“rotator”) flight, wear several layers of clothing. The temperature on military aircraft can vary widely, but it’s most often extremely cold. You must also wear shoes with closed heels and toes (no Crocs or sandals), and bring a blanket, pillow, and small, inflatable mattress to help you sleep comfortably. (Here’s a full Space-A packing list to ensure you have everything).
Space-A travel always requires patience and flexibility, but it’s even more important now as everyone, including passenger terminal staff, get back into the swing of things.