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    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew C. Duncker 

    Naval Air Facility Atsugi

    While the Navy offers many benefits for Sailors beyond a military career, including education opportunities, medical and dental care and access to both the NEX and Commissary, there’s one that many service members may not be well informed about or don’t often take advantage of, and that is Space-A travel.
    “Space-A is short for ‘Space-Available air transportation on government-owned or controlled aircraft’,” said Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi Space-A Representative Quartermaster 2nd Class Mark Barron, from Pittsburgh. “When mission and cargo loads allow, there are often seats available to eligible passengers. With a little patience and flexibility, you can travel all over the world at a cost of almost nothing.”
    Space available travel is a privilege that derives, in part, from United States Code, title 10, section 4744, which states that officers and members of the Military Departments, and their families, when space is available, may be transported on vessels operated by any military transport agency of the Department of Defense. Space available travel is defined as travel aboard DoD owned or controlled aircraft and occurs when aircraft are not fully booked with passengers traveling under orders.
    But before arriving at your installation’s Air Operations to schedule a flight, there are several rules that must be followed in order to book a seat. There are four key steps and ideas to remember when traveling Space-A. The First is obtaining a sponsorship letter from you command’s admin department. The letter itself states that the active duty service member and their family is eligible to use the Space-A flights. Second, the service member must be on leave before signing up for a flight, although family members can sign up at any time. Third, tourist passports must have the SOFA stamp and a multiple entry and exit stamp, if intending to travel outside of Japan. These stamps are provided by the service member’s admin department. Lastly, service members need to come into the air terminal with the sponsorship letter and complete a Space-A form, to get signed up.
    “If someone is unable to come to the Air Operations department, the form can be found on the internet with quick google search for Space-A form,” said Barron. “For those travelling from Atsugi we have an email to which the form can be sent;
    While Space-A is a fantastic program there are certain conditions that can alter when a traveler can take a flight. The first being that most Space-A’s are primarily mission-based.
    “Atsugi has a mission-based Space A program,” Said Barron. “We do not have any regular flights. All flights are subject to the missions of the day and the seats available on the aircraft. Also there is category seating that determines the priority of who gets on the aircraft for the flight.”
    This seating process is based on status (active duty military, retired military, emergency traveler, etc.), Space-A travel applicants are assigned a category of travel numerically from 1 to 6, which categorizes priority: 1 being the highest priority. Thus, an applicant with priority 1 will gain a place on an available aircraft over an applicant with priority 4, for example.
    Barron added, “There is no absolute guarantee that any traveler will get on a flight and cancellations can also occur on the day of, but Atsugi is not the only terminal that provides Space-A flights in Japan. Most military air installations have of a form of the program and a full list of terminals can be found on”
    Even though Space-A doesn’t have many of the conveniences and accoutrements that commercial airlines have it offers a more affordable alternative for the frugal service member looking to explore more of the world for free.
    “I would suggest that all active duty members and dependents in the area look into the Space-A program and take advantage of it,” said Barron. “It really is a great way to experience new places, see new things and meet new people.”



    Date Taken: 07.01.2018
    Date Posted: 12.13.2018 01:13
    Story ID: 303127
    Location: AYASE, KANAGAWA, JP

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