A few weeks ago, I wrote about my trip to Guam. I went there to visit Nick on a port call! You can read all about it here.
The cost of a flight was my biggest deterrent in going on a port call. But when we found out that the submarine was going to Guam for a port call, the command told us that we should look into Space A travel.
Space A is a huge benefit for people in the military and their dependents. But it’s always been a bit of a mystery to me, and it has always seemed too complicated to figure out.
Well, when it was either figure out how to Space A or pay $3,000 for a flight to Guam, I decided to figure it out.
The Air Force has lots of planes going between bases and also to different airports. If a plane is going somewhere you want to go, you might be able to hop on a flight. These include all kinds of planes, including cargo planes!
There are a lot of caveats here. The schedule is only posted 72 hours in advance and changes by the minute. There are no guarantees that a flight will happen, even if it is posted.
You also don’t know if you will get selected for a flight. Different people have different categories of priority.
Finally, you do not get a return ticket. You have to either be able to wait for a flight home or be willing to buy a return ticket if you have to be home by a certain time.
But if you are flexible and have a sense of adventure, I learned, Space A is the way to go!!
Getting on the flight
I wasn’t too worried about getting to and from Guam because there seem to be lots of flights between Guam and Hawaii. Since I have such a flexible schedule, I could spend a few days trying to get to Guam and a few days trying to get home.
I followed the instructions exactly that I found here. First, I had to get a letter from Nick’s command stating that I am his dependent. After that, I had to register with the Hickam terminal. I did that via email.
I am by no means an expert on this topic, and policies change all of the time. After getting different information from different people, I learned that the best thing to do is to call the terminal directly that you want to fly out of. Ask them a million questions and they will guide you through.
The people at Hickam were so helpful and gave me lots of extra tips and tricks that made my experience so much easier. They told me how to register for a flight out of Hickam. The woman I spoke with told me to make sure to do the same for the Air Force Base in Guam, which was a great tip.
The flight I initially wanted on Friday was canceled on Thursday. I didn’t get upset over this because there were a bunch of flights scheduled for the weekend, so I figured I would get on something. I decided to try for an early Saturday morning flight.
My friend drove me to the passenger terminal on Hickam. I loved that I didn’t have to even go to the airport! She asked me if I wanted her to wait around to see if I got on. I told her to risk it and go home, trying to put some good energy out there!
I was at the terminal exactly one hour before roll call. I immediately found a few other spouses from the boat that I knew were trying to get on the same flight. We were all so excited and hoping we would get on.
I checked in with the front desk. The man I checked in with told me that there were 53 tentative seats on the plane and since I was category IV as a dependent of a deployed sailor, I had a high chance of getting on the plane.
The next hour went by so slowly! I felt like I was going to get on but I knew that anything could happen. We all stayed by the front desk, ready for news.
Finally, they did the roll call. Beginning with Category I and going down to Category VI, they call out each individual person. You have to wait for them to check in each person individually before they call the next person. At this point, I knew I was going to get on because I didn’t see a lot of people around. If there had been a lot of people competing for seats I would have been anxious.
Once they got to Category IV, the called my name! I went to the desk and I had to give my ID, my letter, and my passport. I was officially checked in! Thankfully, all of the other spouses I was with also got called.
It took a few more hours before we finally left. We had to weigh our checked bags as well as the bags we would be carrying on the plane. We also had the option to purchase a meal for $5.60. I already had a bucnh of food with me, but I figured an extra $5.60 couldn’t hurt to have some extra food.
After that, we went through security. I didn’t realize that we had to adhere to the same standards as TSA, so I had to empty my water bottle. Thankfully, when we went through security, there were ear plugs and water for everyone, so I filled up again.
I can’t remember how long we were in that area before getting onto the plane. Now the fun could begin.
We got onto a cargo plane that was outfitted with seats along the edges for people. The seats could be lifted up depending on whether they want to have people or cargo on the plane. I was so happy to be on and so excited to be on such a cool plane!!
As soon as the plane reached cruising altitude, we were allowed to get up and walk around! Everyone immediately got our their blankets, sleeping bags, and mats and got on the floor! In this picture, it looks like the floor is indented, but it was flat. I put down a blanket and it was pretty comfortable – much more comfortable than a commercial flight!
This was my setup! I slept for the first 5 hours of the flight straight, and then I just watched my downloaded Netflix shows and read. The flight ended up being about 9 hours, I think. I wasn’t really keeping track.
You could tell who the frequent Space A fliers were – check out that hammock in the back that someone set up!
On the way back, I was lucky enough to be traveling with one of my best friends here in hawaii. It was her first Space A Flight and she was super excited!
I was so glad that we traveled back together even though we both spend the entire flight sleeping. It was an overnight flight, so it worked out perfectly that we were able to go on the floor.
I was warned that Space A flights are freezing, One of my friends who made it to Guam before me told me to bring a hat and scarf because her flight was so cold. My flight from Hawaii to Guam wasn’t cold, but the flight back to Hawaii was freezing. I have never been so cold on a flight! I wore a beanie and a sweatshirt. Luckily, I brought two blankets with me. I put one on the floor and put one over me.
If you ever do travel Space A, know that you have to wear closed toed shoes. I’d recommend bringing a sleeping bag or pad to put on the floor as well as a blanket or two. Bring layers because the temperature fluctuates. Of course, you might not get on a cargo plane, but if you do, it’s awesome to have the comfort of being able to go on the floor!! I’m not sure if food is always served, so bring snacks, too.
It was an awesome experience. It was the most comfortable flight I’ve ever been on, and it got me to Guam and back for free! I’m so thankful for this awesome perk for military spouses, especially during deployment. Being able to go to Guam made such a huge difference in deployment for me.