I started my journey like any other person trying to get an Space-A/ AMC flight. I had a call from a friend who was watching the flights. I had 72 hours to make a decision, get my paper work, turned it in, pack for the kids and I, and get to the terminal.
This was a little overwhelming and exciting, but I was grateful the flight was moved back a day. When I got to the terminal I had made it with 10 minutes to spare before roll call. I had my kids and luggage then went to the counter to get myself marked present. They were a little late on roll call, but I was told this was not a normal occurrence. They called my name, I showed them my paper work, passports and then went to check my bags. I waited an hour or so before being called to go through security and then waited another 45 minutes until we were bused to the plane.
My friend told me the flight was unique because it was also taking Marines home from a deployment. This meant that we got to fly on a commercial airliner 747 contracted out by the military for this purpose. Another thing making it rare was it being a straight flight through to the states, including meals and snacks through out the flight. There was a small fee of 30$ a person, but to me it was worth it.
Then I took a southwest flight home to Ohio from California. When booking my flight I called and asked them for the military rate. This saved me 200$ to 300$ hundred dollars a ticket, which I would have spent if I had booked online. Another nice thing about the military rate is you can move or cancel if your Space-A flight doesn’t pan out.
I had a wonderful trip home, surprising family and friends. I enjoyed every minute and tried not to think about starting to look for a flight until the week before I was ready to go. I did however scan my paper and send and email to every AMC terminal I thought I might fly out of. This locks in your date of sign up and will put you ahead of others in your category and valid for 60 days after sent.
The week I was ready to leave I found a flight on Travis Passage Terminal’s Facebook page that I thought would work for me. I then booked my southwest flight on the phone and flew from Ohio back to California on a Wednesday. I spent the night on base (60$). Checking the flight again early that morning it had been moved to the next day, so I booked another night in the base hotel (60$). The next day we took a cab (5$) and I was at the terminal ready to go. My name was too far down the list and I didn’t get a seat. There was a flight later that evening I was hoping to catch. So the kids and I waited at the terminal. There I met another Military Wife who had two kids around my kids ages and was also lived in Okinawa.
We spent the day talking while our kids played. Three hours before the flight was sent to leave, we heard message over the intercom that it had been cancelled. We then decided to go in on a hotel room together to save money and called on base. They were booked because it was reservist weekend. So we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott out in town. They have a free shuttle that came and picked us up. They were all very kind and when we tried to squeeze into one room (6 people and all our luggage) they told us we had to get another room. When I explained the situration they were very helpful giving us two joining rooms for the price of one (59$).
Another day passed and another flight canceled, this time leaving us with two rooms at the full military price (89$). By this time it was Sunday and we got up early made our way to the terminal and crossed our fingers. With two seats left when they called our names, wearing our sad faces we each held up that we had three in our party . Thankfully reservist weekend was over and we were able to wait at the terminal until our two bedroom hotel room was ready (32$ each). And just like the movie “Groundhog Day” we did it all over again the next day.
Then yahtzee! On Monday we got a flight to Hawaii, staying over night and then through to Okinawa. Only problem was we didn’t have a room. Hawaii is a popular place to visit and I had heard it’s always hard to find a room on base and the prices out in town are on the expensive side. When we got there be each booked a room at the Best Western, which is about 5 to 10 minutes from the base (150$). Stayed there and came back in the morning for roll call (cab 15$ each way).
The seventh day of travel at the terminal:
5:15am – Got marked Present
5:45am- Had roll call
7:00am- Checked our bags
9:45am- Went through security and straight to the bus
10:00am- Waited on the base at the plane
11:15am- Back to the terminal to wait until problems with the plane were fixed
12:15pm- Got on the bus again and on to the plane
1:00pm- Take off for our 11 hour flight
Went we finally landed it was a feeling of exhaustion and pure happiness. Happy we made it, happy to see my Husband, and happy I was done traveling.
Each person’s Space-A/ AMC Flight story is different. Each person’s journey, good or bad, will be some ups and downs.
In my case I had a smooth travel to the states and a rocky travel back to Okinawa. I’m thankful for the experience, the nice people I met along the way, and the fact that the flight itself was free. Yes it may be a waiting a game, your patience will be tested, you could spend some moolah for hotels. But if you keep a positive “go with the flow” attitude (sleep helps) it’s worth it!
I may change some things up for the next trip, but I will for sure be traveling Space-A again. 🙂
Please clink the link below for some tips I found helpful. I will update these as I travel more and learn. Enjoy!!!
#Militarywifeokinawalife #SpaceA #AMCFlights #itsfree
7 thoughts on “Space-A: Free Yet Unpredictable”
It was SO cool seeing you at Hickam. What a small military world!!! LOL!!!! I’m still at my final destination and it’ll be interesting getting back to San Diego. 🙂
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I know!!! How wonderful our world can be. 🙂 I pray for smooth travels back. Fingers crossed.
Also I can’t believe you found my blog before my Facebook. Love it!
It’s really just what I needed to read! It was my first time ever flying Space-A. I’m so mad at myself for never having tried it when we lived in Hawaii for 3.5 years! Gaah!!! Haha! Looking to head back next week and keeping an eye on flights now…
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Did you travel with any luggage?
Yes Rose, I did. I had one big bag and three carry ons. One for me, one for my daughter and one for my son. Plus a carseat. It was trying at times, but many people traveling with me were happy to help.