Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Space A = Space AWESOME!

The military has an awesome program called Space Available Travel, or "Space A" for short. Check out the link for a full explanation, but basically, military members and their families can fly on military aircraft, for free, if there is "space available" on the plane.
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There are U.S. military bases all over the world. Some are restricted to Active Duty military members only, like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, but lots are open to anyone affliated with the military. Most of the bases are in Europe and Asia. Because of all these bases, there are military aircraft flying all over the world every day.
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There are tons of rules and regulations, lots of paperwork, and the flights are highly unpredictable, but hey, it's free air travel, almost anywhere in the world, as often as you like, and whenever you choose, so trying to "catch a hop" as the military community calls it, is completely worth if you ask me!
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Most bases have flights that mostly fly within a certain region. Here at Yokota, most of our planes fly in the Pacific region: San Francisco, Seattle, Anchorage, Honolulu, Okinawa, Korea and Singapore. We're very lucky that we usually have at least one flight a week to each of these places, although Hawaii flights are a little less frequent. Singapore, on the other hand, has 3 flights a week.
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A flexible schedule it crucial for hopping. There is no guarantee if or when any given flight will take off. There are schedules posted 48 - 72 hrs in advance, but missions can change on an hourly basis, lots of the aircraft are old and frequently down for repairs, so you can never be sure if your plane will depart on time or not. Our schedules aren't very flexible, between Otis crazy work schedule, the girls school and extra curricular stuff and my teaching, it's difficult for us to arrange everything enough to risk trying to hop. In addition, you have to have enough money to cover tickets home in case something happens and you're not able to get on a flight (which happens pretty regularly). If we had $1500+ just laying around for tickets, we'd just fly commercially to begin with, so that's the other big reason we've never tried to hop before.
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But this week, we were able to arrange everyone's schedules to try for a trip to Singapore. The plan was to leave on the Tuesday morning flight, returning on the Friday morning flight. If anything went wrong, we'd buy O a ticket home (only $350) and the kids and I would just wait around in Sing for a few days and try for the next hop. Everything was going well, all the gazillion details were falling perfectly into place (should have known it was too good to be true), we were supposed to be at the air terminal at 5:15a this morning. Because I know that these flights can be unpredictable, rescheduled or even cancelled at the very last minute, I called the terminal at 4:30a, and found out that the flight was rescheduled for Wednesday morning!!!! AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH! I was already loading the luggage, I was dressed, hair and make-up done, completely ready to go. Luckily I wasn't planning to wake anyone else until just a few minutes before we needed to leave, so no one else had to get up so early.
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Even though I know this sort of thing has a very good chance of happening, and I wasn't 100% sure we'd be going, I was still soooooo disappointed!
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I'll be calling the terminal at 10:00p tonight to check on the flight, then again at 4:30a, so keep your fingers crossed that it works out this time!
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1 comment:

gigihawaii said...

let's hope you have a nice hotel room to go to after your arrive in Singapore -- especially after all that hassle. haha. good luck!