Disclaimer: These are based on my experience and may not be the same for every military spouse or dependent. The original travel date was in October 2014, which departed from NAF Atsugi Terminal (Japan) and arrived in Clark AB Haribon Terminal (Philippines).
NAF Atsugi Terminal Experience
I personally did not take any Space A class with FFSC at our base, but I did a lot of research and found support from other military wives on how to ace a Space A flight.
After checking the NAF Atsugi Terminal Facebook Page for the 72-Hour Outlook, I found out that Clark was included in the list of places where Space A would fly to. I immediately went to the air terminal the next morning and signed up for a seat. I completed the requirements and filled out the Space A Travel Request Form.
At that time, I was the only Space A passenger and I was told to wait on the benches. After almost 4 hours of waiting, the C-130 plane was ready to fly.
A military personnel gave me a pair of ear plugs and assisted me towards the aircraft. Man, it was really loud in there. When I finally boarded the aircraft, I was surprised to see that I would be flying with a large army squad.
I calmed myself when I found out that I wasn’t just the only Space A passenger but also the only girl in that flight. It felt surreal. It felt like I was starring in a G.I. Joe movie! After settling down, we were informed that the flight would take about 5.5 hours.
Halfway through the flight, I had the strong urge to urinate. I was too embarrassed to ask if there was a toilet in the aircraft. Although if there was, I think I still wouldn’t go. I found the walkway too tight as I scanned the plane and the people were seated across each other, knee-to-knee.
There’s a big chance that I would stumble on their knees and disturb the other soldiers who were asleep, which made me decide to just hold my pee in. Man! It was the longest time I ever held it in. My perseverance was also tested when I suddenly felt my stomach growl. I was so hungry.
Thankfully, the aircraft was too loud and nobody heard it, probably just the guys sitting beside me haha! Aside from that, I was also embarrassed to eat my snack during the flight because nobody was eating and I thought that eating was prohibited in the plane. I just had a candy to satisfy my hunger a bit and pretended to sleep the rest of the flight.
When we landed at the Clark AB Haribon Terminal, I waited for everyone to get off before I took my luggage. The loud noise from the propeller finally stopped. I had no idea where to go from the airplane’s landing highway but thankfully, a personnel approached me and asked if I was a Space A passenger. From there, he drove me to the office to fill out the necessary documents and told me to go to the airport immigration.
I looked around to see if there was a bathroom, but I couldn’t find any. Since my family was there already, they took me to the immigration office where I had my passport stamped with arrival details. At last, there was a restroom that I could use. Whew.
You have no idea how relieved I was after I emptied my exploding bladder. It hit me then that I’m really back in the Philippines.
Clark AB Haribon Terminal (Going back to Japan)
After spending 10 days in the Philippines, I decided to call the Clark AB Haribon Terminal to check if there’s an available flight back going back to NAF Atsugi. Luckily, there was a vacant slot. The crew told me to just show up on the day of the flight and fill out the travel request from there.
When I got to the terminal, I did the same process. I received a manifest and was instructed to take it to the immigration and have it stamped with departure details. This time, one of their personnel drove me to the immigration. The whole process went by smoothly except for the waiting time.
Our supposed flight was at 11:00 a.m. and I arrived at the terminal an hour before for the roll call. However, the flight succeeded at 5:30 p.m. WHEW! Yes, I waited that long wandering around Clark. I even had the time to go to SM Clark Mall to have lunch with my family!
During the flight back to NAF Atsugi Terminal, there were a lot of Space A passengers and we flew in a C-40. I find this aircraft more convenient as compared to the C-130 plane that we used when we flew to clark because it was more like a commercial plane plus it had a bathroom! My worries went away and I was able to eat.
I slept peacefully the entire flight and arrived at the NAF Atsugi Terminal just before midnight.
My family hanging around Clark Airbase Field
What you need to know before flying Space A:
- Documents required: Check with your FFSC.
- 72-Hour Flight schedule.
- Phone numbers of the terminals.
Requirements in my case:
- Passport with SOFA and Multiple entry and exit stamps.
- Space Letter from your Sponsor’s Command.
- Military ID.
- Military Orders.
Preparation for Space A Flight:
- Empty your bladder if flying on a full military aircraft.
- Check your documents if complete.
- If you are still unsure, attend a Space A class.
- Be flexible in case flights are canceled.
- Google other military spouse’s or dependent’s experience regarding Space A.
If you have any questions about flying through Space A, please contact the right personnel on your base. I cannot provide more specific information about Space A for OPSEC rules.