Post Number: 1
Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Monday, June 21, 2010 - 03:42 pm: |
Your story was awesome! I want to go to Australia or Japan so bad... but flights are very expensive and I was contemplating checking out Space A flights. I have a lot of time available... so I'll try it and I will post here what happens. Thank you for encouraging me to do it.
Eileen F. Willms
Post Number: 7
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 09:04 pm: |
Stewart passenger terminal is small scale and manned by military retirees who volunteer M-F from 0900-1200 hrs unless there is an afternoon flight. The are willing and always ready to assist. Great group of guys with alot of Space A mileage and stories. You can reach them at:
845-563-2369. Happy traveling!
Post Number: 1012
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Monday, May 10, 2010 - 08:23 am: |
Holy cow! What an interesting story! Nice story...it sure was like a roller coaster ride. I think this would have been easier for a single traveler but somehow I sense with a "full house" style family, it could only have been fun having been together. Very nice report. Pictures would have been nice but never-the-less...interesting. I was picturing the whole thing. Thanks for sharing!!
Post Number: 108
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2010 - 04:43 pm: |
I've done the Stewart to civilian terminal taxi ride. It's about a third of a mile walk to the Stewart gate and with tip I paid $10 for the taxi.
Post Number: 397
Posted From: 18.104.22.168
|Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 08:25 pm: |
Bad experiences make for good stories. And good memories for the kids.
Post Number: 411
Posted From: 22.214.171.124
|Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 02:02 am: |
It sounds like you are trying to make to many "shoulda", "coulda", "woulda" type decisions after the fact. Be flexible and go with the flow like you did. Just enjoy the situation and be grateful for the chance to do it. Maybe there was something in Rota that one of your children will remember forever.
It is hard to be on a schedule and to travel with a family on Space A. As soon as you say that you should have done something different, you find out that flight did not go, etc. So much of it is a "gut feel" and short decisions. Being prepared and having available info in much of the key to a successful journey. Please don't look back and say "I should have ????????".
Post Number: 6080
Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 01:18 am: |
Stewart is a civilian airport, so there will be car rental desks. Dunno how far from the military terminal to the civilian, but it can't be a real expensive taxi ride.
Post Number: 301
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2010 - 01:15 am: |
Jordan: Stewart is right next to West Point and if you landed during the day, you probably could have had a relaxing and interesting day at the Academy and even stayed at the luxurious Thayer Hotel. There is a train across the Hudson River at Beacon that would take you into New York City and from there, one can travel to Dover or to DC. I think that there is a place to rent a car at Stewart, but I haven't been there in years. Except for arriving in the wee hours of the morning, it's not a bad stopping-off point. C-5A's are based there.
Jordan in Virginia
Post Number: 14
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010 - 10:55 pm: |
Regarding the 3 days on each end, essentially 1 day is required even with commercial tickets for overseas travel.
We did make a decent day of the first Sat at Dover, making bargain purchases at the Tangier Outlet Mall and exploring Rehoboth and its beach.
And ew did get at least a partial vacation day out of one of the days waiting in Rota.
The more days pass the more I wonder about when we will have our next Space-A adventure.
Hind sight, there was a flight opportunity later that first night trying to get home from Rota. It would have landed at Ft Stewart NY in the wee morning hours Sat AM. Should have taken it, but with 2 C-5s scheduled for Dover early the next afternoon, that "appeared" to be the better option!
Should have cleared the big hurdle of crossing the pond before worrying about NY to Dover. That would have saved 2 days leave and my kids a day of school.
Post Number: 300
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010 - 04:40 pm: |
Jordan: Thanks for a concise report. It seems that your 11 day trip included about 4 to 5 days of care-free vacation, while the rest had to do with standing by for flights that did not materialize for you for one reason or another. The stress of waiting around for a flight for 6 days on either end of your journey can be a real drag on the best of intentions, especially the requirement to be at the terminal at the wee hours of the morning and the "bag drag.". I think that since you needed 5 seats, that was one of the issues.
In looking back on my Space A encounters, I only had one occurrence where I was "stuck" at Ramstein for 3 days and that was because I did not give up my boarding pass on a plane that was down for maintenance (AOCP) because I had a guaranteed ride back to Andrews. Other planes, after I received my boarding pass, were flying to other bases in my direction, but I was assured that the part would be in momentarily, but it took longer than anticipated to get the plane airworthy. So flexibility is the name of the game and you gave it a shot by going to Rota. It seems that this was a smart choice as if that flight did not materialize, you were prepared to return home from Dover and abort your trip. So these are the risks associated with flying Space A, but I must admit, that other than that Ramstein experience, I never was stuck for a number of days at any terminal as I always took the first flight out going in my direction and then went commercial if things looked bleak for follow-on travel. Sometimes this is the economical and most expedient thing to do when you consider the cost of lodging and food while waiting for Space A travel. This is where judgment comes into play and there is, of course, the addage of "different strokes for different folks." I have read trip reports on this site where I cringed at the thought of doing what the writer had described. So it goes... Thanks again for your input.
Post Number: 30
Posted From: 18.104.22.168
|Posted on Friday, April 09, 2010 - 02:58 pm: |
Thanks for the trip report! We thought about taking space-a over spring break but thought it was too risky since we didn't have a lot of extra time on the end of the trip. We have 4 kids and have also spent vacation time at the bowling alley and cold beach near Dover, and made it to Rota to enjoy the beach and Gibraltar! I shared the report with my husband and he suggested, "his oldest should go to USUHS and he can be a doc and still ride up in the cockpit as a flight surgeon". Our kids have learned to enjoy the adventure!
Post Number: 514
Posted From: 22.214.171.124
|Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - 09:41 pm: |
Great report! Thanks for sharing your space-a experience. I'm pretty sure there will be many more to come.
James E. Kale
Post Number: 167
Posted From: 126.96.36.199
|Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - 06:04 pm: |
Congratulations on keeping your options open and going with the flow. Your kids had a neat adventure and learned something about how flexibility pays off. Bet they will remember it for a long time.
Post Number: 694
Posted From: 188.8.131.52
|Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - 04:34 am: |
Nice trip report. I believe we spoke briefly at the rental car counter at Rota. You were turning your car in (first time) as I was getting one on Saturday morning. Glad you made it back.
Post Number: 131
Posted From: 184.108.40.206
|Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - 03:58 am: |
Nice trip report. It was a good reality check, but still optimistic.
You were smart to go ahead and take the trip to Spain. When we were still working and had limited time, we researched several places and charted plans for each country we might visit. Then we took the first plane going out and enjoyed wherever we landed. Twice, we went to England when we hoped to go to Spain. Then we went to Germany when we wanted to go to Italy. We finally made it to both on later trips. Space-a works best when you are flexible with destination or time. Since you can't be flexible with time, it has to be destination.
We never book rooms ahead, but always have a list of possibilities. You probably wouldn't feel comfortable doing that with kids with you though.
You are also right about having two weeks. We always allow two weeks, but usually do trips in about ten days. A couple of times, it took 12 days, but we always made it in two weeks or less.
You learned a lot and it sounds as if you had a good time, even if you didn't make it to Germany. You still saved money and had an interesting experience, and Germany will be there for the next trip, or the one after that.
Jordan in Virginia
Post Number: 12
Posted From: 220.127.116.11
|Posted on Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - 02:15 am: |
Spring Break in Philadelphia was sounding pretty dull, so we decided to cast the dice and attempt a trip to Germany. We are a family of 5, with kids 18, 15 and 9.95. We live on the mid-Atlantic coast and have good access to Andrews, BWI and Dover, as well as further access to Norfolk and McGuire.
We tracked flights, reserved a room at Edelweiss (allowing 3 days to get there), had a primary and backup rental car reserved at Ramstein, and had all our travel information.
Day 1 Friday 26 Mar 10:
I started my leave at 1201, and promptly signed up at 10 airports including the US East coast and major European hubs.
Flight schedules showed 3 flights from Dover to Ramstein, all 19T LPM, and they said the terminal was near empty, so once the kids were out of school we drove to Dover and marked present. We arrived at Dover to find flight 1 19F, and flights 2 and 3 now 0F. The terminal also had several families, couples and singles who looked Cat III, plus many retirees hoping for Germany. Flight took 19 Cat IIIs, none of them us.
We got a room at the Fairfield Inn by Marriot at the $77 gov't rate with a so-so breakfast where the only things hot relied upon hot water or a microwave oven.
Day 2 Saturday 27 Mar 10
The only flight for Germany was an evening roll call, so my wife researched the area and found Rehoboth Beach and the nearby outlet malls. We spent the day shopping and walking the (cool) beach.
We arrived back for roll call in the early evening. There were still many active families present, and lots of Cat VIs. The sole flight took only 8 Cat IIIs. 5 were ahead of us, and then they took a party of three who signed up after us since they did not have room for all of us.
We stayed at Hilton Garden Inn, again at the $77 Gov't rate. It had only 2 queens, and they said fire code prohibited a cot. Our oldest made a nest on the floor with extra sheets and blankets and did not complain. Breakfast was cooked to order omelets, fruit, toast, coffee, tea, etc. Nice deal to be included for all 5 of us at that rate!
Day 3 Sunday 28 Mar 10
This is it. There are 6 flights to Germany, 5 to Spangdahlem and one to Ramstein, including two C-5s at 73T, 3 C-17s at 19T, and a KC-10 with 10 T. All roll calls were 1800 or later, so we started the day in downtown Dover. Cool rain sent us back to the base to the bowling alley, BX/Commissary, then the Pax Terminal. Thankfully there is a very nice USO lounge.
The plethora of seats started evaporating fast. A C-5 took 8 (none of them us). Another C-5 dropped to zero. A C-17 dropped to 10, and the other 2 C-17s dropped to 0F. Finally, the KC-10 went to 0F. 6 Flights that all went, with only 18 Space-A passengers.
At this point we are pretty discouraged. We will miss our start date at Edelweiss and lose $179. Our oldest has now referred to this as a failed vacation. We had already decided Tuesday was the last day we would attempt to get out.
Roll Call is approaching for a C-5 to Rota with 50F. My wife and I discuss it briefly, and decide to go for it. No planning, no lodging, no rental car, no travel guides, and packed for Bavaria and headed for southern Spain. Just prior to boarding I manage a 6 night reservation at the Navy Lodge. (The Gateway Inn will not take children under 12.)
Day 4 Monday 29 Mar 10:
We board near 0200. [Advice - when taking a C-5, check any heavier otherwise carryon bags, as you need to climb the large ladder carrying all your carry ons.] Large heavy cargo fills the cargo deck. I am shocked at the poor condition of the passenger deck. Parts and pieces are broken/missing/damaged/stained/detached and generally decrepid. Humidity is condensing on surfaces and dripping on us and running down the walls early in the flight. The box lunches are fine, with a sandwich, chips, M&Ms, water, soda and granola bar. The flight is uneventful. Most of us have 3 seats we can lay across and get some sleep.
We land at Rota in the mid-afternoon, and walk to the Navy lodge. We get the first 4 days of laundry done, start our local area research (Navy lodge had free WiFi), and get pizza delivered for dinner.
Day 5 Tuesday 30 Mar 10:
I start the day walking back to the Pax terminal and renting a Citron C4 from the NEX Rental. It fits all 5 of us…. as long as we don’t have the luggage. We drove to Seville, spent the day there, with highlights being religious processions of people with tall pointy hats (repentant sinners), others carrying full size crucifixes, and large hand carried religious floats. There are large crowds watching and we are kept far back.
Day 6 Wednesday 31 Mar 10:
Drove downtown to the ferry pier and bought tickets to Cadiz across the harbor. We spent a couple hours exploring tide-pools and walking the board walk at Playa Castillo while waiting for the next ferry.
The ferry ride was fine, pulling into Cadiz around 2 PM. We had Chinese for lunch (very reasonable prices), then found the TI Office, and planned a route around the city hitting key points after things re-open at 1700. We took a bus back to Rota from the ferry terminal at 2020.
Day 7 Thursday 1 Apr 10:
We stayed in Rota, exploring local sights and going to the beach. Despite 18 degree weathers, kids swam, and there were a fair number of others on the beach.
Day 8 Friday 2 Apr 10:
There are 2 flights to Dover scheduled late tonight, both 73T. We decide we should take one to make sure we arrive home on the weekend. My leave runs through Wednesday the 7th, but work is very busy and I would like to be back Monday.
We check out of lodging, leaving some bags in locked storage and head for Gibraltar. [Advice – Everyone needs a passport for this trip.] Due to a long slow line of cars, we parked in Spain and walked across the border.
After a bus ride through the city, we rode a cable car to the top of the rock. We were greeted by a band of inquisitive apes who want to see what treats the new people brought. In our first few minutes, we saw apes steal an ice cream cone and a bag of potato chips.
The views were great, looking into Europe, out over the Mediterranean Sea, across the Straights of Gibraltar into Africa, out into the Atlantic and over a well protected harbor. We then walked and walked, visiting the Ape’s Den, Caves, siege tunnels, and through town before taking a bus to the border. The walk was very long and most at a fair incline, so we were all pretty tired out.
We returned to Rota and went to the Air Terminal, to await one of two flights to Dover scheduled. As the evening wore on, both were eventually rescheduled for Sat afternoon. Luckily I had not returned the rental car yet, so we started a search for lodging, as the base was full. We found a decent hotel in Rota, Hotel Caribe, and got checked in near midnight.
Day 9 Saturday 3 Apr 10:
We checked out of the hotel and returned to the base. At the terminal, both flights were still a go, so we unloaded the luggage for the second time, and returned the rental car. As the time for the first flight neared, they announced it would not take any Space-A passengers. The reason was there were 55 troops returning from downrange onboard already and they did not want to add Space A passengers. So we continued our wait for the next flight. When roll call arrived, they announced it would not stop at Dover, but fly direct to the west coast….. so now I have no car and no lodging, and the next flight opportunity having roll call at 0500 Sunday. I went and re-rented the same car, and got lodging on base. We drove into town and watched another procession, before returning for dinner on base and sleep.
Day 10 Sunday 4 Apr 10:
0330 is awful early! We packed, checked out (third time) and returned to the terminal. All is a go. We got boarding passes to Bangor Maine followed by Martinsburg WV (about 90 miles from our house). We had our bags checked, returned the rental car, then waited for boarding. When it was almost boarding time it was clear something was amiss. Upon checking, we were told the crew did not want to take us—something about Easter and too much hassle at the arrival in WV due to lack of available transportation. It evolved into there would be no immigration or customs officials working in WV. The crew said they would take us to Bangor, but no further. Everyone declined, as getting from Bangor to the mid-Atlantic is not easy. [Hind sight, the story does not check out…. If they could have taken us to Bangor, customs and immigration could have been completed there prior to our flight to WV…] Next flight opportunity Sunday night to McGuire AFB, near Trenton NJ. I was able to fish my rental car keys out of the drop box, which was fortunate as they were closed and would not open for Easter Sunday. As a final blow, we were told they could not refund our $30 for 5 box lunches on the flight, and they handed them to us.
We were dead tired, so went back to lodging and re-claimed our room vacated 4 hours earlier, and slept until just before the noon checkout time. So now we have a car, 5 box lunches, and about 7 hours to kill. We opt for a picnic and beach trip followed by watching Alice in Wonderland at the base theater.
We returned to the terminal and other than a short delay, the flight to McGuire was still a go. We and several others were scrambling to figure out transportation off McGuire at 0200 Monday morning. Rental car on base does not open until 9. Limo service I call is closed for Easter, another does not answer. A fellow traveler reached two, both of which declined a 0200 fare. I even called McGuire to see if by chance they had a morning flight to Dover (where our car is), but no luck. The bulk of us conclude we will have to wait for the morning rental car opening.
Happily, we do board this flight along with another family with kids, two older couples, and a single or two. Last thing before boarding, I returned the rental car (Fooled me twice, won’t get fooled again). The aircraft is a relatively new C-17. We sit in jump seats on the outside wall of the cargo deck. There is no cargo retuning to the US other than our own luggage. The load master gives us the safety instructions, much like commercial airlines, plus how to dawn a smoke hood. Once airborne, we are allowed to lay down on the cargo deck. The deck was cold metal, but most managed some sleep. The loadmaster gave all the kids unit patches. He also cooked hotdogs for them. With about 45 minutes left, they invited my oldest to the cockpit where he remained until after landing. I think this was a recruiting effort, but he still wants to be a doctor!
Day 11 Monday 5 Apr 10:
0100 we land at McGuire AFB, 120 miles from our car at Dover, and further from home. Low & behold, there is a flight to Andrews AFB with a roll call at 0240—not as good as Dover, but 30 miles from home! We get seats, and take off near 0530, and are at Andrews AFB by 0630. Hertz opens at 0800, we got a rental and were home by 0900. Meanwhile, I have a rental car in my driveway, and my car on the East coast of Delaware. After a shower and a rest, I took the rental car to Hertz in Dover, caught a cab ride onto the base, and retrieved our car, for the 2 ½ drive home.
Adventure complete. Now we need to weigh the pros and cons of Space-A travel. Cons were wasted time, extra hotel/rental car expenses, inability to go where we intended. Clear pro was free transportation to Europe and neat experience. The entire trip was completed on less money than we would have spent on airfare alone, and we were planning spring break in Philly before deciding to try space-A. I think the answer is we should do it again when we have a little more time…. Maybe a two week leave between assignments would work better.