Support our mission

In a reversal, the Air Mobility Command has decided to allow eligible spouses in Europe to continue receiving upgrades on space-available travel while the matter is under review at the Pentagon.

People with military spouses deployed for at least 120 days have been able to fly in a higher category under a waiver granted in 1998 to those stationed in the U.S. European Command.

The waiver allows spouses and dependents to travel in Category 3 instead of Category 5, making it more likely they’ll get Space-A seats on a particular flight.

The waiver came under scrutiny recently, and in late October passenger terminals in Europe began informing spouses it was no longer valid.

But Capt. John Sheets, a public affairs officer for Air Mobility Command, sent an e-mail late Wednesday to Stars and Stripes saying that the command’s position was that “qualifying dependents may continue to travel Space-A in Category 3 status while the EUCOM policy is under review.”

Maj. Susan Idziak, a public affairs officer at the Pentagon, confirmed earlier in the week that the waiver is “in the staffing process” at Department of Defense headquarters.

She said she could not give a timeframe on how long the process might take.

EUCOM officials said they had not received official notice about any changes taking place regarding the waiver, which they support, and were proceeding under the assumption that it was still authorized.

“The EUCOM goal is to have the waiver remain in effect. We feel the justification for the exemption is still valid, given the sustained high level of deployments from this theater,” Col. Pat Mackin said Friday.

Attempts by Stars and Stripes to find out how many spouses have used the waiver since 1998 were unsuccessful.

An officer at the Pentagon, speaking earlier this month on the condition of anonymity, said there was concern that spouses using the waiver were bumping servicemembers on leave trying to get back to the States and that was the reason for the review. However, he said he couldn’t cite any figures.

twitter Email

stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up