Space- A Travel for Retirees and Families

August, already, and it’s hot. Hot, hot, hot! Why not take a little vacation to beat the heat? That’s what they do in Europe – everything closes down for the month and everyone heads for cooler climes. For a retiree this could be an expensive experience – unless you can go Space Available (Space-A) travel and ride for free.  

Space-A travel on Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft allows authorized passengers to occupy aircraft seats that are surplus after all Space Required (Space-R) passengers have been accommodated. Space-A travel costs nothing but is allowed only on a non-mission interference basis.

Space-A travel is a privilege (not an entitlement) afforded to Uniformed Services members, retirees and dependents and may offer substantial savings for your leisure travel plans.

Remember there is no guaranteed space nor reservations for any traveler but you can submit a sign-up request by email, fax or in person. DOD is not obligated to continue an individual's travel or return him or her to their point of origin or any other point. Travel opportunity is afforded on an equitable basis without regard to rank or grade, military or civilian, or branch of Uniformed Service. Travelers should have sufficient personal funds to pay for commercial transportation to return to their residence or duty station if space-available transportation is not available.

Retired Active, National Guard and Reserve Service members and dependents are eligible for Space-A travel and are generally placed in the lowest category after everyone else to wit : Category VI - Retired Active, National Guard/ Reserve and Family members (with a valid identification card) when accompanied by the sponsor; Reserve Officer Training Corps; Nuclear Power Officer Candidates; and Civil Engineer Corps members.

Retired Reserve component Service members entitled to retired pay at age 60 (gray area retirees) may fly within the Continental United States (CONUS) and directly within/ between the CONUS and Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa (Guam and American Samoa travelers may transit Hawaii or Alaska). Dependents are not authorized to travel Space A with these members. However, once the member is receiving retirement pay (generally age 60) no distinction is made between members retired from the Reserves/Guard and members retired from active duty. Dependents of these retirees are authorized to travel Space-A when accompanied by the sponsor.

Note from a Seasoned Space-A traveler: Space-A seats are normally identified as early as 3-4 hours and as late as 30 minutes prior to departure. Recommend you check with the passenger service center for the space available show time for your flight prior to leaving the terminal for any reason – even to go to the Exchange Snack Bar for coffee. Be ready for immediate processing and boarding.

A detailed discussion on Space-A Travel with informational links to the USAF Space-A site is in the benefits library in MyArmyBenefits (