This past summer Ben was deployed and I decided I wanted to spend the summer in sunny California! I did not want to spend almost $3,000 to fly there from Germany. My friend T also needed to get to the US so we talked about maybe trying out Space-A together. We knew it was crazy but we were up for the adventure. Space-A with children is very difficult but it can be done.
We made the decision about 5 months before we were going to leave. During that time, we went to www.pepperd.com and looked over everything. We had so many questions and did not understand the process at all. I had another friend who had done it and she explained it to me and it started to make more sense.
First of all, there are different categories of travelers. Active duty is Cat 3, Deployed Spouses are Cat 3b (if the soldier is deployed over 365 days) and Cat 4 (under 365 days but over 120 days) Cat 5 is for spouses flying without the sponsor when the sponsor is not deployed and Cat 6 is retirees.
If you travel with your sponsor, you will be a higher priority than a spouse without their sponsor will. If your sponsor is deployed, you will be higher than a spouse whose husband/wife is not.
We ended up being Cat 3b because of when our husbands left and when they were supposed to return.
The first thing we did was get a signed letter from our husband’s command that allowed us to do Space-A. We also knew that we wanted to fly out of Ramstein so we signed up with them. We did this by sending them a simple email with the attached letter from the command. Ramstein Information can be found here!
I did this on April 9th so that was my “sign up” date. That meant that anyone in my category with a sign up date later than me was behind me in priority for getting on a flight. This was any flight leaving from Ramstein.
I needed to get to California and my friend needed to get to Arkansas. Our plan was to get to the US on the first flight we were able to. I could have waited in Ramstein for a flight to CA but I did not want to wait there. If I was going to wait, I wanted it to be in the US. And we wanted to make that long flight together.
Now because we did not know what base we would end up at, we signed up to fly out of any base we thought we could end fly into. Most of these were on the East coast. I think we signed up for about 9 different bases. If you sign up for a certain base and never show up there, oh well. That is why we were able to sign up for so many. What we wanted to do when signing up was put ourselves between days 45-50. If you signed up April 9th and wanted to fly April 12th you would be on day 3 when you went to fly. This is not very high up on the list. You also do not want to be at day 59 when you try to fly out because the maximum amount of days you can be on a list is 60. So if you try on day 59 and do not make it you will be back to day 1 the next day.
This is a great web page to read. There is just so much good info there! And Pepperd Message Board for Space-A travel is a must. There is a ton of information about the flights there that you need to read. Basically, you need to figure out where you should fly from and where you should fly to because not all bases are equal as far as where they go, how often they fly there and how many people they will take.