Regular flights are available leaving Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) for those needing to travel to Norfolk, Virginia and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With the space available or Space “A” travel, active duty, Reservists and retirees, along with family members can travel to these and other destinations around the world.
Patriot Express Flights or “rotator” flights leave Norfolk every Friday, bringing passengers to NAS Jax’s Air Mobility Command passenger terminal and then on to Guantanamo Bay. The flight then turns around with passengers wishing to head north and repeats the pattern. Additionally, this flight occurs every other Tuesday.
Schedules are posted on the NAS Jax Air Terminal Facebook page 72 hours in advance of upcoming flights to include the regularly scheduled Patriot Express rotator. Retirees are allowed to sign up for travel 60 days in advance. Forms are available at the terminal for travel requests. Active duty may only sign up when on official leave status.
To take these flights, personnel are placed into categories. Category one is for active duty service members and their families on emergency leave.
The next priority is given to active duty, families and civilians on environmental morale leave (EML) and Department of Defense (DoD) teachers during the school year.
As a reminder, Guantanamo Bay is a closed base and you must have a letter of authorization to travel there. Additionally, you must have a passport to travel to Cuba.
Category three is for active duty members on regular leave, house-hunting orders and those on special liberty for three to four days.
Category four includes family members traveling without a sponsor on EML and DoD teachers during summer break.
Category five is for those on no-cost TAD orders, family members with a visitor’s pass and those traveling on regular leave without a sponsor. Retirees and Reservists fall into the last category.
A special category 6.5 was created for Guantanamo Bay passengers.
Prior DoD dependents who are divorced and family members of deceased military may not use Space A.
Spouses are not allowed to fly without their sponsor unless they are deployed for more than 30 days.
When traveling without a sponsor, they must have a deployment verification letter. Family members younger than 10 or with no ID card must have a passport or other government provided document. By using milConnect, each family member is assigned a DoD number and that page can be printed off with the number to use as verification.
Pets can only use Space A when in a PCS status, with permission from their command and service/therapy animals are welcome with proper paperwork per AMC 24-101, Volume 14, item 10.2.a. 1-4.
Social security cards are not acceptable forms of identification and for retirees with their social security numbers on their ID cards, they will not be able to travel. By obtaining a new ID with their DoD number, it provides better security for everyone.
Be aware – not all terminals follow these rules and may allow travelers to fly with these exclusions, but at NAS Jax it is necessary to follow these guidelines.
“To help expedite the process and ease of travel, we ask everyone to bring three printed hard copies of all leave forms and additional information as we do not have the means to accept them digitally the day of travel,” said Onvoi contract employee Gayle Seals, passenger service supervisor.
Be mindful that when traveling, some flights may be on military aircraft, such as C-40s or C-130s.
Military Airlift Command sponsors flights that are no-cost. These flights may change or cancel with little notice. No food or drinks are served on these flights.
The time posted as “show time” is when personnel can check-in for the flight. Passengers pay a nominal fee of $4 to $20 per ticket. It may not be the best idea for those on a strict time schedule, but for some it could mean an extremely inexpensive flight to Europe, Asia or Hawaii might just be worth it.
According to ABH2 Ernst Novembre, he is always surprised how some military don’t know about Space A flights.
“This is just one of the many great benefits awarded to military members. And, when I have time, I try to use it myself,” he said.
DoD instructions state that there is no guarantee of transportation and travelers should have sufficient personal funds to pay for alternative transportation, lodging or additional expenses if necessary.
Another guideline to follow when flying Space A, is to pack light. Passengers are only authorized to check two pieces of baggage weighing no more than 70 pounds and measuring no more than 62-linear inches.
Carry-on items are authorized provided they fit under the seat or overhead. These allowances vary on specific aircraft, so it’s important to check the requirements before reporting to the terminal.
Before boarding, passengers go through security check points just as commercial travelers and only three ounces of liquids are allowed in carry-on items. For travelers with children younger than 3 years old, they may have three small containers (20 oz.) of juice or milk in a carry-on.
Alcohol must be checked and no lithium batteries are allowed. E-cigarettes must also be in a carry-on bag.
Uniforms are no longer required for military flights, however appropriate clothing is required and flip flops are not allowed.
Parking is allowed outside the terminal for two weeks. Additional parking is located for longer times off Albemarle Avenue.
Buses are provided for passengers arriving from Guantanamo Bay to Jacksonville International Airport or to the Navy Lodge.
For other travelers, it is recommended to secure transportation with taxi services that have base access. Rental cars are also available and should be pre-arranged.
For more information about Space A travel, visit www.amc.af.mil/Home/AMC-Travel_Site.
To check on flights flying in and out of NAS Jax, call the air terminal at 542-8159/8165 or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Jacksonvillepassengerterminal.