Ask Lady Cat 6

Have questions about Category 6 space a travel? Post them here and Lady Cat 6 (I) will be happy to answer!

40 thoughts on “Ask Lady Cat 6

  1. I think that I am ready for my first trip. Destination is Europe generally, Belgium, Netherlands, France and Germany. Using Ramstein as a port of entry, then Eurorail to Belgium, France and Netherlands. Then departing from Ramstein or Spangdahlem. I will be sending out my requests to East coast in a couple of days. The trip is planned for first week of September. I have no schedule for returning to the States. On the requests to Ramstein or Spangdahlem do I list five states instead of five countries. I have a civilian passport. Ret AF

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    • Hello, Eugene!

      No, there is no option to list individual States on your sign-up form. If your return destination is the Continental US (CONUS), list US. If you want to return to Alaska or Hawaii, you can list those additionally, as they are considered “countries” because they are not CONUS.

      Enjoy your trip; it sounds wonderful!

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  2. We are a cat 6 family of 5 living in Salina, Kansas! We are invited to Magdeburg, Germany to spend the Christmas season with the family of our recent exchange student. We have never used Space A. I am doing as much research as possible! I see that departing Baltimore or De. are our best chances of a flight to Ramstein. Do you have any advice for traveling around the Christmas break?

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    • Good morning!

      As you can probably tell from your research, traveling during any sort of school break is very difficult for Cat 6, especially those who need a larger number of seats! You might be fortunate in traveling in the opposite direction of most travelers (active duty families coming home to the US for the holidays), but it’s not a good idea to count on it. My advice would be to travel before and after the Christmas break if at all possible. It’s safest to plan to leave by about the 15th of December, and return either between Christmas and New Year’s, or after DODDS schools are back in session. I would include McGuire and Andrews for places to depart from. There have been many occasions where my sponsor and I have rented a car and chased after flights in that area. Fortunately, they are all within about 2 hours of each other. Also, consider flights to Spangdahlem as arrival in Germany. You will need to be very flexible, be prepared to wait and perhaps drive to another base, and take whatever you can get during
      this very busy time of year.

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  3. Hi, just wondering do you think it’s best to start using conus flights when starting out using space A for the first time or traveling overseas would be best. Wanting to get the hang of space A traveling.

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    • I think it depends on several factors – where the terminal you wish to fly from has the most flights to, your level of comfort with uncertainty, the time frame you have available to travel within, and whether or not you have experience in foreign countries.

      If you have no experience at all with space travel, domestic flights are a great way to gain familiarity and find out if it’s something you are comfortable doing. Domestic flights can be easier just because there tend to be more of them. For instance, we just flew from the west to the east coast during this busy travel season with no problem. We had a good choice of flights out of both bases closest to us. Domestic space a travel will allow you to work the kinks out without having to worry about being overseas and dealing with all sorts of extra issues, like language, money, foreign off-base lodging and food, and all the other trappings of international travel. It’s also less expensive if you end up having to be back by a certain date and need to purchase a ticket.

      Overall, unless you’re the very adventurous type, domestic travel is a good way to begin.

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    • Hi Wes,
      Yes, we pretty much stay signed up all the time, in case something comes up on the spur of the moment. And, whenever we fly out of a terminal, we sign up again right away.

      It’s a bit different when we’re planning to travel. For that, we adjust to make sure we’ve been signed up around 50 days by around the time we want to leave. Depending on how long we plan to be gone, we plan our return sign ups so they, too, are at about day 50 when we want to travel.

      We also frequently travel from Navy terminals that only allow a 72 hour prior to flight sign up, so that’s easier to manage. If a flight pops up on the 72 hour forecast that we’re interested in, we sign up and we’re ready to go!

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  4. Hi! My wife wants to know if you have a Facebook page where she can follow you. We are new to space A and she is looking to do the research beforehand to get a level of comfort. Thanks

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  5. Hi,
    My wife and I normally fly out of McChord; however, Whidbey could be a future consideration. Can you give me approx. distances between the terminal and long term parking, dining, lodging, etc. Is there a long-term parking limit? Pass required? Does Whidbey honor 60-day sign-ups or 45-day sign-ups? What’s the most efficient way to get to the terminal from the Seattle area to minimize traffic delays?
    Thanks in advance!

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    • Hi Steve, there is a new long term parking lot right by the terminal. You get a parking pass when you get a boarding pass (ask for it) – not sure if there is a time limit. Lodging is about a 10 minute walk to Navy Gateway Inns and Suites – there is also a Navy Lodge on the Seaplane base, about 5 miles away. The only dining options on base are the fast food outlets in the little NEX, a 5 minute walk from the terminal. There was a McDonald’s, but they lost their contract and the storefront is closed for several months while the new outlet (can’t remember if Wendy’s or Burger King) moves in. Lots of Dining options in the town of Oak Harbor. Whidbey only takes sign ups in person or over the phone, 72 hours in advance of any posted flight. If you want to drive, just go up I-5 to exit 230 (Burlington), and take route 20 west to Oak Harbor, WA. The drive from Seattle is anywhere between 2 and 3 hours, depending on traffic. If you are in the Seattle area, it might be easier to get a ride to Seatac Airport and take the Whidbey-Seatac shuttle, which drops you off right on base, about 5 minutes’ walk from the terminal. That might be best, since you stand a very good chance of not coming back to Whidbey, depending on where you’re going. You can also park at McChord (if you can get them to give you a parking pass), take the Kitsap Airporter shuttle to Seatac, and then take the Whidbey shuttle north from there. Kitsap shuttle is $20 PP one way, Whidbey shuttle is $40 PP one way.

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  6. We are hoping to catch the Patriot Express to either Misawa or Yokota this weekend or next week. We just learned that there are 0 Tentative seats for both the flights. In your experience, do multiple duty passengers ever just not show up for their assigned seats- opening up Space A seats? We are a family of 5 trying to get to Japan (Category VI) to visit close friends at Yokota AFB. The terminal has said it is possible….but I have a hard time believing that it is a common occurrence as I imagine most are doing PCS moves.

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    • Yes, seats do sometimes open up due to duty passengers not making the flight. When we went to Yokota last year as Cat 6, there were only 11 tentative seats released, and about 40 people waiting for roll call. We stuck around, and everyone got on due to bad weather on the east coast delaying flights into Seatac. The first half of the month is generally tougher than the second to get seats, and you need several, which makes it a bit more difficult,but if you are in the area, the only way to guarantee you won’t get on is not to show up for roll call. If it were me, I would probably go to roll call – nothing to lose except some sleep. Keep watching the Seatac passenger terminal Facebook page for changes in seat release – they can happen right up until roll call time. You might also consider McChord to Travis on Saturday, and then Travis to Yokota on Sunday – that could work, too!

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  7. Good morning!!! We are trying to Space A in October to travel to Italy. We are only 1 1/2 hours from BWI & we are planning a Patriot Express . We’ve never been to Italy & my husband’s health is not getting better so this is a bucket list trip. My dad wad born in the Abruzzi areas& one of my priorities is to get there. My question is are there reputable tour companies that you can book once we’ve arrived since we are space a? We talked about renting a car or using the rail system but none t sure how he would handle that. Originally my brother & wife were coming with us, he’s retired navy but she still works full time so it may just be the two of us. I bought the Military lodging book. In October it should be off season????

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    • Hi Angie!

      Yes, October should be a good time for Cat 6 travel, though BWI is nearly always very busy and it make take several tries to get out. Since you are looking at Southern Italy, I recommend you try Norfolk for their bi-weekly flight to Naples, also. BWI is going to get you to Germany and northern Italy (Aviano, near Venice) only. Also, depending on your husband’s health, I would also sign up at Andrews, Dover, and McGuire in addition to BWI. You would most certainly be on a cargo plane or tanker from one of those locations, and some plane types have quite steep stairs. On a C 17 cargo plane, stairs would not be a big issue, but you would definitely need to dress for a cool to cold flight. The Patriot Express flights are very popular because they are civilian contract airline planes, but that is what makes them difficult to get on sometimes.

      We travel independently so generally don’t use tour companies. I would recommend you look at Rick Steves Italy, and take a look at his website ( https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips ) for commercial tour operators. They usually get high marks for quality and value. I’m sure you can find someone! Also check out USO Rome ( http://rome.uso.it/Default.aspx?SID=26823777&IID=828&MID=828 ) for their recommendations.

      We have traveled frequently on Italian trains. Most stations have elevators to get to the train platforms, but fairly frequently they are out of service and you must be able to go up and down stairs, with your luggage (PACK LIGHT!!!) to access the train. The trains themselves are generally comfortable (we usually purchase second class tickets, if they are available), though the regionale trains that have no reservations can be crowded and it can be hard to find a seat. If you look in the car, there are little signs over some of the seats near the doors, designating them for senior citizens or disabled passengers. Italians being Italians, they sit where they please, but if you point out that you need the seat, they’ll generally give it up for you. We love Italy, and, having been stationed in Naples for 3 years, are fimiliar with the Abruzzi area – there are lovely places to stay in the town of Pescaseroli, in southern Abruzzo, if you happen to be in that area! Buon Viaggio!

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  8. Hi, I have flown the patriot express numerous times while stationed in Italy. Now I am trying to catch a flight – the patriot express to Souda Bay to visit my husband. It will be myself and our 2 children. We are only Cat V’s. My question is, when they release the tentative number of seats, are there so many per destination or just seats in general going to the lowest category overall first?

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    • It depends. From Norfolk (which his where I am assuming you are departing) with the Patriot Express, they just list the number of seats available overall. They conduct the roll call according to category and date and time of sign up within each. You tell them where you are manifesting to when (if) your name is called. It’s all first come-first served.

      Returning from Souda and with some other flights, they break the destinations up and list the number of available seats for each.

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  9. Hello! I like the sleeping pad you are using, but wonder if you use the standard pad or the insulated one? Thanks in advance! Denise

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    • We got the standard one, and it’s been fine! The guy who recommended it to us did say to grab a blue airline blanket to put on the floor underneath, just in case there is anything sharp on the floor, and we always do that. It’s been very nice, comfy, and warm!

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      • Do you take turns using it? Trying to decide whether to take two or one. Also, we’ve been told to take sleeping bags – it sounds like you’re using a blanket only. Warm enough?

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      • Yes, we do take turns, but I’m thinking of getting my own ;). We do use a lightweight down throw as a blanket – it stuffs really small and weighs nothing. I would not bring a sleeping bag – too big and heavy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I got a wearable sleeping bag at REI which rolls up to the size of about one and a half gallon jugs. Works great and is relatively easy to roll up and stuff back into the storage bag.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. II asked this question before on the main facebook space a page, but I have done some of my own research and the issue doesn’t seem to be definitively addressed. Retirees with dependents holding a pink id card. My son has such a card but is over 23 (just turned 24 in fact) but he has the card eligible thru deers as a tricare for young adults enrollee. Can he fly with me? A close friend of mine called one of his PAX terminal reps and was told that as long as his pink id card in not expired, he’s good to go. Neither the Travel regulations or ID regulations specifically say he is ineligible.
    Please advise

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    • Hi George,

      Adult dependent regulations are not my area of expertise, so I must defer to the opinion provided by the PAX rep. It is true that as long as the pink dependent ID card has not expired, the dependent can fly space a with the sponsor. As long as your son’s ID is still valid, he should be able to do the same. I would speak to a Passenger Services Representative/Supervisor directly – that way I’d be certain the information was correct, and I could ask for further clarification if necessary.

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  11. ladycat 6, We are looking at Ipads and laptops for travel cat 6. What do you use for travel? Iphone, Ipad, Laptop or other for travel registration and planning, map navigation, and watching movies during flights? Thanks for all your great travel posts..

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    • Hi Len,

      We use my tablet and our Windows smart phones to make arrangements and keep in touch while traveling. We have a wonderful service with T-Mobile that has free text and free 2-3g data, and calls for 20 cents per minute from almost anywhere in the world at no extra charge! Have been able to do everything we need to work no problems with these 3 small devices.

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      • Lady Cat 6, Thanks. My crazy phone or my typing left out the C on Cat 6. We look at San Antonio. Ft Worth Navy, and both coasts for hops. Mainly considering Europe, since we lived in Spain and traveled Europe before. Enjoy your travels. Len

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    • Hi Gary, there are several our there, but we just do everything online so I can’t recommend a particular one, sorry! Maybe I need to research that for a future post ;)!

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  12. Hoping to take our first Space A tomorrow from
    JBMDL. Where is the best place to sit on the plane so I will be warm? I don’t know what type of plane we are taking. There are 10T seats as of 16 hours from roll call. Thanks much!

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    • Hi Judy! If it’s a C 17, you want to sit as close to the front as possible. If a C5, the cabin is heated but the back seems to be a little warmer (though you trade that for the bathroom aroma). But, with 10T, I think it’s probably a KC 10 tanker – the cabin is nicely heated so you don’t have to worry about being cold :).

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      • Thanks so very much Patricia (or do you go by Pat)!
        It is very kind of you to share your immense knowledge with all of us. We are sure more confident thanks to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Hello thank you for this wonderful site. I know this is most likely much easier than it seems but I’m just not quite “getting it.” I want to make sure I’ve done this correctly. A week ago I sent out our signup from East Coast to Ramstein for Middle to end of next month. I did this thru Take-a-Hop. I was told to wait about a week later and send another sign up from Ramstein to USA. I just did that. Is this correct? I am so nervous I did this wrong. 🙂 I appreciate any help.

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    • Hi Barb,

      Yes, you did it right ;). Depending on how long you want to stay in Germany, you should send your return sign up to Ramstein so you’re traveling around 50-55 days into your sign up, the same as for your departure.

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  14. Hi Lady Cat 6,

    Thanks for such a helpful site! Question about flights with multiple destinations. Say there is a flight Norfolk-Rota-Sigonella-Al Udied for example and we wish to get off at Sigonella. Do we know at Norfolk that we have a seat all the way to Sigonella? Or, do we have to see if seats are available once we land in Rota? Is it possible to lose a set due to perhaps cargo or personnel that Norfolk did not know about at the origin? Thanks!

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    • Hello!
      Yes. When your name is called at roll call, during processing you will be asked which destination you are going to, and you will have a seat all the way through.

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