Are you military personnel and want to fly for free, but do not know how to take a military hop? After successfully flying to multiple states and countries we have become experts! I had to figure out everything the hard way, but you do not! Keep reading to find out how to take a military hop and start using this cool military benefit right away.
What is a military hop?
A military hop is when you are able to fly on a military aircraft from one location to another location. This is also known as and referred to as “space a travel”. Military hops are only available at certain bases and you never know where available planes may be going or how many seats will be available. I consider the ability to fly for free on military flights to be one of the best benefits for military families.
72 hours before the flight most military terminals update their Facebook pages so you can see where the planes are going. These are always subject to change at a moments notice. It is not always free to travel space a, but it is extremely cheap if you are able to take one. Your travel plans must be extremely flexible.
How to take a military hop?
If you are on active duty you must be on leave to be eligible to get on a hop. You must show your orders or leave paperwork to get on a hop. The military member is allowed to fly space a and bring direct dependants with them. Spouses are not allowed to hop without the military sponsor unless stationed overseas. Each dependent must show a military id, unless they are under the age of 9.
Space A Baggage allowance
Baggage allowance varies by aircraft. You are allowed to take quite a bit of weight, but since we never know exactly what we are getting into we always pack as light as possible. At times we have had to walk from the Space A terminal to billeting and it would have been a nightmare if we had a lot of luggage with us.
- C12, C20, C21, C26, UC35 and C38 – 30 LBS total checked baggage.
- C9, C40 – 50 LBS per person.
- C5, C17, KC135 and C130 – 70 LBS per bag, 2 bags per person. (This is normally the type of aircraft you would hop on.)
Space A Facebook pages
Facebook pages have made it so much easier to see where the planes are going. Terminals release the tentative schedules on their Facebook pages 48 – 72 hours in advance. Here are a few Facebook pages.
Aviano, Italy (They have a rotator, so lots of seats.)
Tacoma, Washington (There is a USO right next door!)
What to expect on a Military Hop
You will need a coat, especially in the winter. It gets extremely cold during some flights. You will notice that in every photo of us on a military flight we are wearing coats or jackets.
Snacks are given out during the flight, sometimes, but not always. You may bring on your own food and drinks.
If a meal is available for purchase, get it. If you are traveling with a hungry teenager, but them two meals. One “lunch box” typically costs around $6 and has a sandwich, soda, water, chips, granola bar, one piece of fruit, and a dessert.
The Cost to fly Space A
Zero – So far, I have never had to pay to hop. I know that if you get on the rotator in Baltimore you have to pay. If there is a fee, they will let you know.
Have a Backup Plan
Do you have the money to get yourself home if you are not selected?
Depending on which status you are classified as you may or may not make it on to the hop. For example: You are your family have successfully hopped over to Hawaii from California. You’ve completed your vacation and are now ready to hop back to California. Only California is having a huge storm, so all flights get cancelled that day. The next day twice as many people are needing to hop due to the cancelled flight the day before. You are retired, therefore in the lowest category, category six. Only Categories 1-3 make it on to the first flight, the next flight only categories 1-3 make it on again. Things are not looking good and you NEED to get back. Guess what? You have to pay out of pocket for a last minute one way flight from Hawaii home on a commercial airline. (I use this example, because I watched this happen to a family when we were all trying to get back from Oahu.)
Can you use an air mattress on a military hop? Yes, you can use an air mattress on a military plane. We’ve only done it once, but there was enough room and no one seemed to mind. I’ve also seen someone do this on one of the flights we were on, which is where I got the idea!
Also, if the plane isn’t full you can lie across the seats. We bring travel pillows to use on the flights.
Can you use electronics during the flight? Yes, You are allowed to use whatever electronics you want. I saw a guy pull out an entire gaming system set up once and game the entire flight.
Is a passport needed?
If you are leaving the country you must have a passport. You will have to go through customs when you get to a different country.
Is there a bathroom facility on the plane?
Yes, there is always some sort of bathroom on the plane. The size of the bathroom or number of bathrooms will depend on the plane. From what I can recall there has always been just one bathroom on the planes we have flown on. The bathroom is pretty basic, but good enough.
Can parents of military members take a hop?
No. Military flight benefits are only for the military member’s spouse and children.
- Feel free to leave a question in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!