YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Travelers planning to catch a Patriot Express flight back to the States from Yokota or Kadena Air Base next week might want to take another look at the schedule.

Starting next week, World Airways will be taking over a six-month contract as the air service provider, bringing changes including flight days, more seats and an additional stop along the way.

The flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Japan will now depart the States on Thursday morning, arriving at Yokota on Friday morning and continuing on to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Kadena Air Base that same day. The plane will park overnight Friday at Kadena before flying back to Iwakuni and Yokota and then on to the States on Saturday morning.

In the past, flights from Seattle departed on Wednesday and arrived at Yokota on Thursday. Flights to Seattle left Kadena and Yokota on Fridays and arrived in Seattle on Fridays.

Iwakuni returns to the Patriot Express route after being removed from the list in October 2006 — along with Misawa Air Base — when cost-recovery goals weren’t met.

"We want to let people know what’s happening, especially with summer vacations coming up," said Tech. Sgt. Ted LaCroix at Yokota’s passenger terminal. "The busiest travel time is, of course, when school gets out. ... So, it’s important to have patience."

The Patriot Express aircraft will change from an Airbus A330-300 that seats 298 passengers to a 315-seat DC-10.

But while the change in aircraft means more available seats, LaCroix said some may be disheartened to learn there no longer will be business class seats.

Passengers going to Seattle will still be charged the $27.40 inspection fee, and all passengers are authorized up to two luggage items weighing no more than 70 pounds each and one carry-on item, he said.

LaCroix said travelers should make sure they have all their entry paperwork with them if they are heading to the States, including orders and leave paperwork, while dependents without status-of-forces-agreement standing should be sure to have already cleared their paperwork through the local Government of Japan office.

Based on the amount of passengers signed up for a flight and the number of seats available, the roll-call times for a flight can potentially change, so savvy travelers should call ahead to the passenger terminal to check flight times as late as 10 p.m. the night prior to the flight, LaCroix said.

The Georgia-based World Airways has provided flight services for the U.S. military since the 1950s, when it provided supplementary airlift support during the Korean War, and it is the largest commercial carrier of military personnel, according to the airline’s Web site.

Flight informationWhere to call for Patriot Express flight information:

DSN 225-7111 for Yokota Air Base

DSN 634-2159 for Kadena Air Base

DSN 253-1854 for Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

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