Plane taking off on runway

Plan Your Trip With Space-A Travel

Service members and their families can use Space-Available flights to travel around the country and world at little to no cost. Though sometimes unpredictable, military flights are perfect for families with flexible plans and limited travel budgets. With the right planning and documentation, Space-A travel can be the best way to take a trip with your family.

Space-A travel basics

These flights are not commercial, but rather military flights with a mission. That means there are certain restrictions to travel, including:

  • Only service members, retirees and their families are eligible. Only with certain qualifications are reservists, National Guardsmen and family members without an accompanying active-duty sponsor permitted.
  • No information is available online about the flights, so you have to find out schedules and availability at the nearest military terminal.
  • Flights are usually free of charge but call to confirm any taxes or fees.

The only way to sign up for a Space-A flight is through a military terminal. You can do so up to 60 days in advance, and the earlier you do so, the better your chances are of getting on that particular flight.

Passenger categories

Once you sign up for a Space-A journey, you’ll be put into a category that determines the likelihood of getting on that flight. The higher up on the category list, the more priority you have. Here’s the category breakdown, in order:

  • Category I: Active-duty service members and their accompanying families traveling on emergency leave.
  • Category II: Service members and accompanying family members traveling on environmental and morale leave, including command-sponsored family members stationed outside the continental United States.
  • Category III: Service members and accompanying families traveling on ordinary leave or re-enlistment leave status, and unaccompanied family members of service members deployed 365 consecutive days or more. This category also includes service members and their families on house-hunting leave.
  • Category IV: Unaccompanied family members on environmental and morale leave orders and eligible family members of service members deployed 30 consecutive days or more.
  • Category V: Students whose sponsor is stationed in Alaska or Hawaii, and students enrolled in a trade school within the continental United States when the sponsor is stationed overseas.
  • Category VI: Retirees and accompanying family members. This category also includes National Guard and reserve members who are traveling within the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories.

Prepare for your Space-A flight

Flight schedules can be unpredictable, so plan ahead when you travel Space-A. Consider flying off-season to improve your chances of getting a desired itinerary. Arrive early and be prepared to wait if there’s a delay or if plans change. And pack lightly as planes have different luggage allowances.

Bring the following documentation with you to travel:

  • Your military ID
  • A copy of your leave orders for emergency, environmental, morale or ordinary leave passengers
  • A letter verifying eligibility from the service member's commanding officer if you’re an unaccompanied family member of a service member deployed for 120 days or more
  • A passport and appropriate visas for overseas travel
  • DD Form 1853: Verification of Reserve Status for Travel Eligibility for eligible National Guard and reserve members

Learn more about Space-A flights through the Air Mobility Command website.

Fly commercial with TSA Precheck

If Space-A travel isn’t right for your plans, take advantage of TSA Precheck to expedite your time at the airport when flying commercial. Simply use your Department of Defense ID as your known traveler number.

You’ll bypass long security lines without removing your shoes or jacket or taking your laptop from your bag. Family members under the age of 12 can pass through expedited screening with you.