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England by way of Fairchild, for cheap

Hop away with Space A

Where do you want to go? Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Michael Means

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Are you looking for adventure this fall? Do you have time to travel and really take advantage of a military perk that often flies under the radar? Trying Space A flights can get you from here to wherever there may be ... as long as you're a little organized and a lot patient.

While flying Space A can cut down on vacation costs dramatically, it is important to be prepared since things may not go according to plan. For instance, if you are planning to hop on further flights once you reach your first destination, additional research and utilizing www.takeahop.com, which helps to organize a trip by listing which Space A flights are available from a base, can help. Space A travelers also need to be prepared for long delays, lack of seating or even cancelled flights.

However, once you accept the risk, the rewards can be amazing; for example, Fairchild Air Force Base, located near Spokane, has regular flights to England, starting in October.

"The flights to England usually start at the end of October and run through the end of May. Typically they go once a week," said Senior Airman Joshua Hoelscher, who works at the Fairchild passenger terminal. "That is the best we have to offer, as far as our flights go."

Seating for Space A travel is always dependent upon duty passengers and/or cargo, but Hoelscher stated that there are usually 10 seats available per flight to England.

The flights from Fairchild go directly to Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, which is in Suffolk, England. Mildenhall is just under two hours by car (reportedly even with traffic) from London. There's also a free bus that runs from Mildenhall to Heathrow Airport twice a day; from the airport you can use the tube (subway) to get into London.

For more information on Mildenhall's Space A options, without having to call overseas, visit facebook.com/RAFMildenhall PassengerTerminal. Remember, each traveler will need a passport or appropriate visa for out-of-country travel and military ID is required when using Space A.

When flying Space A, according to Air Mobility Command (AMC), each passenger can check two pieces of luggage, which can weigh up to 70 pounds each and be up to 62 linear inches in size. However, specific baggage weight allowances can vary by flight and by aircraft, so to be safe, packing lightly is advised.

Families traveling together are allowed to pool their baggage allotment. Also, like on commercial flights, hand-carried baggage must fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. Furthermore, due to safety regulations, open-toe or open-heel shoes, for instance flip-flops, are prohibited on any AMC flights.

In accordance with AMC Instructions, flights and available seats are announced 72 hours prior to scheduled departure. For more information on Fairchild's Space A flights, you can call the passenger terminal's 24-hour hotline at 509.247.3406. To receive notifications on flights and have your name added to the backlog of passengers waiting for a certain flight, email either 92lrs.Passenger@fairchild.af.mil or 92lrspaxprocessing@fairchild.af.mil.

Short- and long-term parking is available across the street from the passenger terminal. To that end, Space A flights also travel between Joint Base Lewis-McChord, McChord Field and Fairchild AFB, so you might get lucky and manage to avoid a 4.5 hour drive across the state. To contact the JBLM passenger terminal, call 253.982.7259 or 7268.

For more information on Space A travel and AMC regulations, go to amc.af.mil/amctravel.

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