Time, time, time is the other major resource that Cat 6 travelers need to have on our side. Time, as in traveling during the times of the year holding the best chances of success, time, as in having sufficient time on your sign up and time as in enough personal time to comfortably allow for the vagaries of space a travel.
Lady Cat 6 (me) and my Sponsor have two modes of travel: spur of the moment, and planned ahead. For taking off on a whim when we see a flight that sounds interesting, time is not such an issue (we are both retired and have plenty of that – YAY!). For planned travel, though, time is more important and takes a bit more attention.
Let’s talk about timing first. In general, for overseas travel, it is best to avoid summer, and any other school holiday periods throughout the year, including Christmas and Spring Break.
Any time from about the third week of September through about the middle of December – Christmas time – should be good for fall/early winter travel. From about the second week in January until sometime in March, and then again from the end of Spring Break until mid-May, when Summertime travel begins to pick up, are optimum periods for late winter and spring adventures.
If traveling within the Continental US (CONUS) during these peak periods, you will encounter significantly less difficulty. That’s because for Categories 2, and 5, space a privileges end wherever the originating flight terminates, which usually means somewhere on the east or west coast. There is no CONUS-CONUS eligibility. One of the benefits of Cat 6 is we can fly within CONUS, and, we do!
Interestingly, we have heard there is occasionally a window of opportunity between Christmas and New Year’s for OCONUS flights. We’ve not personally attempted to travel during this time, but others have reported success.
Of course, this does not mean that travel during school breaks is impossible. If you happen to come across a flight from a less-utilized departure location, or a last-minute addition to the schedule, there’s always a chance you could get a seat – just don’t count on it for planning purposes.
As you may remember from the Boring Basics: Sign Up Strategy, Lady Cat 6 recommends planning to travel around 30-50 days after your sign up. This allows for a sufficient amount of time on the sign up list to develop optimum seniority within our Category, and also allows for a sufficient amount of time left on the sign up in which to get on a flight home. The longest we have ever had to wait for a flight (so far) has been 5 days – once in the Andrews/BWI/Dover/McGuire quadrangle, and once in Ramstein (and that wasn’t even in summer!). In both instances, we had a little reserve still left on our sign ups by the time we got out (WHEW!), but had we traveled any later, we would have been in trouble! Once 60 days is up, remember, you have to sign up again and start all over again at the bottom of the date/time barrel!
Finally, even if you have optimum time on your sign up, you have to have time to be able to deal with changes or delays in your travel. Be sure you allow yourself sufficient time to be able to relax, be flexible, and go with the flow. Sometimes, that may even mean leaving earlier than planned. It’s always better to take the flight that’s there, than to wait for a flight that might be…
When traveling space a, having more than enough time is like having more than enough money: you may not need to use it, but you’d best be prepared, just in case!
Speaking of time, the clock is ticking for prime fall adventure season! We sent our outbound sign ups a few weeks ago, and our returns just last week. It’s time to get going if you haven’t signed up yet. You don’t want to end up wasting time sitting in some terminal watching your fellow travelers wing merrily off, having the times of their lives, while you’re left asking time what’s become of you – get your email list out, or click the take a hop link on this page and get started. Time waits for no one – don’t let it pass you by!