Nearly all of the military passenger terminals at bases worldwide have a Facebook page on which they post Space-A flight information. While it’s not absolutely necessary to have a Facebook account to view the passenger terminal Facebook pages (you can view them without logging in), having an account makes it easier to track activity. Some travelers prefer to call the terminal and listen to the recorded message, but we do our travel planning almost exclusively through Facebook. Space.net has links to most passenger terminals’ Facebook pages.
What Information Can You Find on Passenger Terminal Facebook Pages?
The main thing you will want to see on a passenger terminal’s Facebook page is the slides with the Space-A flight information (described in detail below). The page also has contact details for the terminal as well as any special announcements, such as terminal closures or instructions for passengers confirmed on a particular flight.
You can post questions on a terminal’s Facebook page, and the terminal staff usually respond within 24 hours. Unfortunately, they may not be able to share much more information than what is on the slides. Don’t bother asking, “When is the next flight to…?” because they probably don’t know. These are operational flights, and the folks working in the terminal only know what the flight crew tells them. The Facebook page also is not the right forum to ask questions about your particular situation, e.g. “Can you confirm I’ve been marked present?” Call the terminal directly in those instances.
How Do You Interpret the Facebook Slides?
Most passenger terminals use a fairly consistent format to post information about Space-A flights. There are two sets of slides: the 72-hour flight schedule and the Space-A Roll Call Report. In our experience, terminals tend to be more diligent about updating the flight schedule. The degree of consistency and accuracy of Facebook posting often reflects how active the terminal is for Space-A travel.
Terminals generally update the slides at least once per day. Most terminals have a notice at the top of their Facebook page stating what time slides are updated. Many terminals also refresh the slides with each change, so there may be updates multiple times per day. When we are planning to take a particular flight within the next day or so, we check the terminal’s Facebook page frequently – as in, at least once per hour – especially as we get close to the scheduled Roll Call time. We have learned through experience that last-minute schedule changes are extremely common.
In the next sections I have a line-by-line explanation of the two types of Facebook slides. If you are new to Space-A flying or you haven’t used Facebook to track flights, this detail is for you!
If you already know how to interpret the slides but are interested in learning more about how to make the most of the information, here are a few tips and strategies for flying Space-A. You can also read about some of our Space-A flying experiences for examples of how a Space-A journey might go.
72-Hour Flight Schedule
There is usually one slide for each of the upcoming 3 days and it contains the following information:
- Roll-Call: the time at which the Passenger Specialist reads the names of the passengers who have been accepted for the flight. Please note that you must be marked present prior to the Roll Call.
- Destination: the airport(s) to which a flight (a.k.a. “mission”) is going. Sometimes there will be more than one. For example, the first mission listed on the slide is going to Elmendorf AFB, then Beaufort MCAS (destinations may be posted in alphabetical order but generally follow the logical flight path). Keep in mind that the layover in Elmendorf could be a few hours or it could be a few days. You may not know how long it is until you land in Elmendorf.
- Seats: The number of Space-A seats available. If it has an “F” after the number, it means “Firm.” “T” means Tentative. It also might say “TBD” or “SP” (seats pending), even until the Roll Call, and of course, even “Firm” seats can change at any time.
- Remarks: Some slides include notes about baggage weight limits, as shown here, or other restrictions.
Space-A Roll Call Report
- Date: The date of the flight or, more accurately, the date of the original Roll Call (the flight may not have departed the same day).
- Destination: same as in the 72 hour flight schedule, there may have been multiple destinations for a flight.
- Seats Released: The final number of Space A seats that were released. It may be different from what was posted on the 72-hour slides.
- Seats Used: The number of Space A passengers occupying the seats. In the slide above, all of the seats released for the missions to Travis/March were occupied. The mission to New Zealand had extra seats.
- PAX Selected/Lowest Category Selected: Of the passengers selected for the flight, the lowest category of any individual traveler. For the first mission to Travis/March above, the lowest category of passenger who made it onto the flight was 5. That means no retirees (Cat 6’s) got on.
- PAX Selected/Date & Time Sign Up: Of the passengers selected, the latest date and time of sign-up. This information gives you an idea of how competitive it was to get on the flight. For the second flight to Travis/March above, only 13 seats were released, and the latest date of sign-up was 25 August: about 7 weeks before the flight.
- PAX Competed for Flight/Pax: The number of passengers competing for the flight (i.e., passengers who were marked present). For both flights to Travis/March, there were many more passengers competing than there were seats.
- PAX Competed for Flight/Lowest Category: The lowest category of passenger competing for the flight. In the example above, Cat 6’s were competing for all three flights.
- PAX Competed for Flight/Date & Time Sign-Up. The most recent sign-up date of passengers competing for the flight. It’s often the same day as the Roll Call, as was the case for both Travis/March flights, because many passengers don’t remember to sign up in advance.