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Space-A: Plan ahead and be flexible

The 'A' stands for 'available,' not 'absolute'

By MARK RANKIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 13, 2004

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Have seat, will travel.

With a passenger terminal facelift, upgraded equipment and remodeled waiting areas, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron officials say they’re prepared for the influx of travelers expected to touch down and lift off from Kadena’s air passenger terminal this season.

April through June are peak months for space-available travel, said Senior Master Sgt. Buddy Skelton, the squadron’s passenger service superintendent. He said travelers should prepare for unexpected delays and cautioned against waiting until the last minute to set travel plans.

Skelton said more than 13,000 Space-A flights originated from Kadena last year. About 12,000 terminated here, as well, making it one of the Air Force’s busiest terminals.

According to the squadron, active-duty military members and Defense Department civilians may sign up for Space-A travel.

Once their leave begins, servicemembers can sign up by faxing or e-mailing official leave papers to Air Mobility Squadron passenger terminals. Sponsored dependents can sign up as soon as they are ready to travel.

The sign-up is valid until the last day of leave, or for dependents and retired military personnel, for 60 days.

Squadron officials said they recently completed a $845,000 renovation project aimed at making the terminal more user-friendly. Skelton said the improvements from a new luggage drop-off lane and baggage cart corral to state-of-the art television monitors displaying travel information make moving inside the terminal easier and faster.

“Customer service is our business,” said Skelton. “The monitors allow passengers to instantly see changes in travel status and departures.”

Skelton said one of his favorite changes is the squadron’s travel information center computer inside the terminal.

The computer lets customers view flight status and up-to-date travel data, including baggage restrictions and departure and destination information.

“This is one of the best passenger terminals I’ve seen,” said Seaman Dominque Sherrod from Portsmouth, Va., traveling from Kadena to Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Japan.

The United Service Organizations’ family lounge has also extended its service. The facility is now open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Inside the USO, passengers can buy gifts, relax on the couch, watch DVDs and VHS tapes, play popular video games or read a variety of books.

Special T’s cafeteria, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service restaurant and a small business center with telephones, a DSN fax machine and free Internet service are available upstairs.

Skelton said with the new improvements, the passenger terminal offers customers awaiting Space-A flights more to do than sitting in a chair.

“Our customers are priority,” said Skelton. “When a traveler comes through the terminal we want to give them the best service… we can give.”

Phone the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron at DSN 634-2159; Fax at: DSN 634-4221. E-mail at: spacea@emh.kadena.af.mil


Tips and rules

Baggage rules:

Each passenger may check two pieces of baggage, up to 70 pounds each and 62 linear inches in size.

Family members may pool their baggage allowances and hand-carried baggage must fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment.

 

Travel tips:

Plan to be flexible and patient. Military ports offer more travel opportunities than commercial gateways.

If possible, travel during off-peak Space A travel periods between February and March; October and November.

Choose various destinations.

There is a head tax (usually about $24) on CONUS outbound travel. There is a federal inspection fee on CONUS inbound international commercial charters (usually around $24).

When traveling Space A with young children, be prepared for delays. Baby supplies and reading materials are recommended.

Space-A stands for Space-Available, and it means exactly that: space that’s available after all mission requirements are fulfilled.

 

Links to bases with sign-up forms:

 

WEB-BASED TERMINALS:

Andersen Air Force Base: https://www.andersen.af.mil/
Aviano Air Force Base: http://www.aviano.af.mil/links.html
Dover Air Force Base: http://public.dover.amc.af.mil/airshow/airshow.html
Hickam Air Force Base: http://www2.hickam.af.mil/spacea/spacea.htm
McGuire Air Force Base: http://public.mcguire.amc.af.mil/
Osan Air Base: http://www.osan.af.mil/
RAF Mildenhall: http://www.mildenhall.af.mil/spacea.htm
Scott Air Force Base: http://public.scott.amc.af.mil/
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base: http://www.wpafb.af.mil/flight/signup.html 

 

E-MAIL-BASED TERMINALS:

Andersen AFB andersen.spacea@andersen.af.mil
Aviano AB, Italy spacea@aviano.af.mil
Hickam AFB, HI 735ams.trps@hickam.af.mil
Osan AB spacea@osan.af.mil
Peterson AFB space-a@peterson.af.mil

 

—Information courtesy of the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron.

 

 

Rules of remote

 

The following information should be included with a remote sign-up:

1. Last name, first name, middle initial.
2. Rank/grade.
3. Social Security number.
4. Number of seats required.
5. Travel Status:

• Category I: Civilian or Military Dependents on Emergency Leave.
• Category II: Environmental Morale Leave.
• Category III: Active Duty on ordinary leave or house hunting.
• Category IV: Unaccompanied Dependents.
• Category V: Permissive Temporary Duty or student travel.
• Category VI: Retired Military and Reserves.

6. Branch of service.
7. For active-duty servicembers only, the date their leave begins.
8. Date leave ends.
9. Country choices: List up to five; “ALL” can be one of the choices.

10. List names of all dependents traveling with you, include the following information; full name, relationship, age (if children), Social Serurity number and passport, whether U.S. or foreign.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Julius Alba from the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron passenger terminal at Kadena Air Base checks Navy Seaman Dominique Sherrod's paperwork prior to boarding a flight bound for Atsugi, Japan.
MARK RANKIN / S&S

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