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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Patriot Express schedule for planned biweekly missions in July and August has been arranged with Northwest Airlines, U.S. Forces Japan announced.

The flight will pass through Yokota on July 10-11 and July 24-25 on a roundtrip from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, and back. The following month, it’s set to stop here Aug. 7-8 and Aug. 20-21 as part of the same route.

Throughout June, the Patriot Express is transiting Yokota every Wednesday and Thursday but in the opposite direction, originating in Kadena.

U.S. Transportation Command and Northwest have not agreed to anything for September and beyond, but the military expects to reach a deal sometime in July, said Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Harris, USFJ’s acting deputy logistics director.

The carrier also will begin providing a Boeing 747 next month for the U.S. military’s only chartered commercial air service in the Pacific, replacing the Airbus 330 in use now.

While the 747 features more than 100 extra seats, there will be fewer available to fliers in July and August because of the switch to flying every other week.

"While TRANSCOM believes this will meet the funded passenger requirement, my guess is that there will be fewer Space-A opportunities on this mission," Harris said.

With a larger aircraft on the way, he added, TRANSCOM has negotiated an increase of 12 pet spaces on each Northwest 747, doubling the total.

"Bringing pets on commercial airlines is an uncertain proposition with not only typically fewer pet spaces per aircraft and a lot more competition for them, but the restrictive rules they have concerning movement of pets during hot weather," he said. "Those restrictions don’t apply to PE missions."

The Northwest 747s slated to work the Seattle-Kadena flight also are configured with more first and business class seats than the A330 offered.

Harris said Air Mobility Command determines seating policy, but passengers picked for higher-class seating won’t land any extra perks.

"In other words, just because you may be able to sit in first or business class, don’t expect Dom Pérignon and filet mignon compliments of the airline," he said. "You’ll receive the same meals and drinks at the same frequency as the rest of the aircraft."


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