Military Space A Travel FAQ
2. Eligibility
2.1) Who is eligible for Space A?
People identified in the following list are eligible for Space A under some circumstances. The specific eligibility details are quite complex, so check with a passenger terminal for the details or read the rules for yourself on the Space A World Wide Web page at <http://www.glue.umd.edu/~oard/spacea/>.
  • Members of the Uniformed Services and their family members.
  • Foreign exchange service members on permanent duty with the DoD.
  • Retired members of the Uniformed Services and their family members.
  • Members of the Reserve Components.
  • Civilian employees of the DoD stationed overseas and their families.
  • American Red Cross personnel serving overseas with the U.S. military.
  • DoD Dependent School (DoDDS) teachers and their family members.

2.2) What are the "Uniformed Services?"
The Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The term is understood to mean people serving on Active Duty in any of those services, and includes officer candidates attending West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy, and the Coast Guard Academy.

2.3) What are the "Reserve Components?"
The Naval Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and Coast Guard Reserve. Members of the reserve components who are in an "active status" (which generally means that they attend weekend drills, but again the rules are quite complex on this) or are grey area retirees (people who are retired from the reserve components, are not yet 60, and are eligible to receive retired pay at age 60) are eligible for Space A. Officer candidates who have a reserve (red) identification card are generally also eligible for Space A.

2.4) Are ROTC cadets and midshipmen members of the Reserve Components?
Many of them are. In general, ROTC cadets and midshipmen who are receiving any sort of financial assistance have signed enlistment contracts in one of the Reserve Components and have red ID cards. This includes cadets and midshipmen on scholarship, and those not on scholarship who are in their last two years of the program and receiving retainer pay. Other eligible officer candidates include members of the Navy's Nuclear Power Officer Candidate (NUPOC) and Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) programs.

2.5) When can family members fly Space A?
The rules on this are complicated, but the general guideline is pretty simple. Family members may generally travel to, from, and between overseas destinations when accompanied by their sponsor who is eligible for the travel to be performed. Family members may also travel within the Continental United States (Alaska, Hawaii and all territories and possessions are considered "Overseas" in the Space A vernacular) when on domestic segments of overseas flights at the beginning or end of the mission, and on any flight when their sponsor is traveling on emergency leave or (under limited circumstances) when house-hunting at a new duty station. For example, if a flight originates in Texas, stops in California as part of the mission, and then continues overseas, family members may fly from Texas to the overseas area on the flight. Except when accompanying a sponsor on emergency leave or for house-hunting, however, they cannot travel on a flight going only from Texas to California (or get off in California from a flight that is going further). There are two exceptions to the rules allowing family members to travel. First, although members of the reserve components may fly to some overseas destinations, their family members may not accompany them. Second, some tactical aircraft which carry Space A passengers will not carry family members. Finally, the definition of a "family member" is quite specific (and again, quite complex). But the basic rule of thumb is that if they have a current ID card, they are a family member.

2.6) Can I bring young children?
Yes, whenever travel with family members is authorized. But when traveling Space A with young children, prepare for possible delays along the way where baby supplies may not be readily available. A good supply of games and books is also recommended. Also, be aware that a baby's ears, like an adults, are sensitive to pressure changes when descending, and that by crying, babies help their ears to equalize the pressure.

2.7) Can my family members travel without me?
Only in limited circumstances. Command sponsored family members of members of the Uniformed Services may travel to, from and between overseas areas if they present a letter certifying command sponsorship or if they have EML or emergency leave orders.

2.8) Can disabled people travel Space A?
Every effort is made to transport passengers with disabilities who are otherwise eligible for Space A travel. Except on Coast Guard airplanes, disabled veterans are not eligible for space available travel solely on the basis of their disability. However, retirees are eligible, and that category includes people who have received medical retirements. Passenger service personnel and crew members will generally provide all practical assistance in boarding, seating and deplaning passengers with special needs, although travel on some types of tactical aircraft may be precluded. If you need to travel with a personal assistant, the only people permitted to accompany you are other persons who are eligible for Space A travel.

2.9) Can Canadian Forces members fly Space A on U.S. military planes?
Yes, on the same basis as any other member of another nation's military forces. The two requirements are that they be on permanent (not TDY) foreign exchange duty with the U.S. Department of Defense and that they be in a leave status. Family members of foreign exchange service members are also eligible for Space A, generally subject to the same limitations as family members of U.S. Uniformed Services personnel.

2.10) Where can members of the Uniformed Services fly Space A?
Almost anywhere in the world. Examples include Europe, Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, South America, Australia and Africa. Of course, travel to some destinations, such as isolated islands with no civilian population, can be restricted by theater commanders.

2.11) Where can members of the Reserve Components fly?
Members of the Reserve Components with a DD Form 2 (Red) identification card and a DD Form 1853 authentication of travel eligibility may fly to, from, and between the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa. When on active duty (but not when in a drill status) members of the Reserve Components may fly anywhere that other Active Duty members can.

2.12) Where can retired members fly?
Retired members with a DD Form 2 (Blue) identification card may fly anywhere, subject only to the same theater and international restrictions that affect all travelers.

2.13) What restrictions are there on Space A?
You can not use Space A privileges for personal gain or in connection with business enterprises or employment. You also can't use Space A travel to establish a home, to transport dependents to an duty station where you are or will be serving an unaccompanied tour, to transport dependents to a TDY duty station, or when international or theater restrictions prohibit such travel.

2.14) Who determines eligibility to fly Space A?
The four military services jointly establish Space A eligibility for Department of Defense aircraft, and the Department of Defense promulgates the policies and procedures in DoD Regulation 4515.13-R. Policies and procedures for Space A on Coast Guard aircraft are patterned after those in DoD Regulation 4515.13-R, but because the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Transportation there are some differences. Coast Guard Space A regulations can be found in COMDTINST M3710.1C.
Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Douglas William Oard)