*I wrote this when I got back from my trip to DC. I just didn't post it because I had to finish it.
My little (23 year old) brother graduated from George Washington University WITH HIS MASTERS. I got to visit him from Tuesday till Sunday. Friday was the day he walked across the stage for both his masters and undergrad degrees. Sunday the commencement was held on the National Mall between the Capital and the George Washington Monument. Along with my parents and brother Hunter my moms parents and brother (Uncle Wayne) came too.
I was able to visit Josh because of one of my many military benefits; Space Available flights. These are flights filled with men and women who are deploying or returning from a deployment. The left over seats are sold to military and their dependents to fill the flight. I get written proof from his battery saying I am in fact a dependent and I am sponsored to be here and allowed to leave - meaning I am a good dependent and dont cause trouble.
So after I turn in this paper. I am able to hop on a flight and pay $23.50 and 8 hours later arrive in BWI a real aiport on a real plane. Only its not as easy as it sounds. So how it works is this letter can be taken into the airport to "sign up" for the Space A list, it is only valid for 60 days meaning you have to leave and be back in that time. They have a "roll call" for the flights about 2 hours before the flight is supposed to take off. So you are supposed to show up a 30 minutes before hand to mark yourself present for the list and make sure your name is on the list before they start to call names.
So I didn't turn my letter in before the day I planned to travel. SO with roll call being at 6:30 am I showed up at 4:30 am and I had only gone to bed at 3:00 am. If anyone new in the same category as me showed up after me I would be ahead of them on the list. (I forgot to say there are categories.. I am Cat 5 it starts with 1 being the people on emergency leave then goes up to people whos sponsor is deployed for more then 365 days all the way down to retirees who are Cat 6 I think so I am right before them at 5.. Tony would bump me up to 4 if he traveled with me because he would be on leave) SO I didn't get on that flight but there were 2 more flights that were going into a military base. The first one was a medivac flight and roll call was only a few hours away. So I choose to stick around and wait.
As I was sleeping around the airport I heard them announce the arrival of a flight from BWI. I thought that was odd since there wasnt supposed to be another flight going there today. It wasnt till the next day. So I just shrugged it off. THEN about 20 minutes before they were supposed to call for this other flight I was most likely not going to get on they called for an UNANNOUNCED UNWRITTEN UNSCHEDULED flight to BWI that had Space available!!!! OH YIPPIE! They usually have guns and amo on board so normal people can't ride but they didn't! I was so excited. I went down to listen to them call all the categories before mine then call me! SO I was going to BWI! I had to email my brother to tell him. SO the flight wasnt for 3 hours.. SO I checked in and asked if it was ok if I went home for a while but came back an HOUR before we were supposed to board and they said I was good. SO I went home to try to actually take a real nap on my bed since I had only an hour or so of sleep.
I decided to call at 1 when the flight was to board at 2 20pm. They said "ya you are good" just be here in 45 minutes. Still allowing me more then 30 minutes before they were even supposed to START boarding. I got there and went straight to the front to ask again about the flight and they said "oh ya your good, just go ahead and wait upstairs for the flight to board". So I get in line to subway since I hadn't eatten since this morning. I am looking around and I dont feel like there are that many people there... I ask the people in line for security check where they are going and its Kuwait so they looked at me like I was crazy since I cant go there with them why was I asking. THEN my name is called over the loud speaker!!! APPARENTLY they boarded the plane soon after I talked to the nice man around 1 who put me on hold to ask about my flight and told me I was good. They also forgot to tell the front desk information people too! Lucky for me another woman was sitting there too who missed boarding so I wasnt the last person on the plane. I got to sit in the very front of the section behind what would have been first class. I had lots of leg room and I was on the end. I drank as much water as I wanted and got to pee without disturbing the people around me. When I woke from my nap right before I called the airport to check on my boarding flight I called Josh who was sleeping to tell him i was leaving Germany soon and would be there in 8 hours after we left. I was drowsy he was drowsy so we didn't really get across the needed information. So when I got there I called him from a nice lady named Crystal who was stuck at the airport till she could get her military credit card to give her money to pay for a taxi. Even though I told him I would take public transportation he said he could come get me. Its 5pm DC time. I first tried to call him on a pay phone.. guess how much they wanted me to pay for 4 minutes! $9! That's why I resorted to asking strangers to use their cell phone plan.
I am able to view the flights out of Ramstein for the month but I can only guess about the flights coming back until I get there to view the list. So first thing after I knew I had a ride was to sign up for my flight back and get the flight days next week. I found out they had one on Sunday at 6 pm Wed at 8 30pm and THURSDAY at 2 am!!!! OK so the thing was Tony and I have tickets to spain and I HAD to get home. So I slightly freaked out at learning these few options. I decided that I had to try to leave on Sunday since his ceremony was in the morning I wouldn't miss anything. However it did rush things on Sunday with the family and I cried a little bit from the stress but more about that later.
SO after I got to the airport via my dad and Josh driving me and Gma Gpa and Mom and Wayne rode the train for the experience. I was worried about the time that we were leaving and missing the train that's why we drove and they rode. We dropped them off at the station and we only beat them by a few minutes. I was so happy that I was one of the last few names called and I was going back and didn't have to make the trek out to BWI again that week. This flight was only $14.75 or something like that. No close calls with this flight I did get sick into the air sick bag on the plane.. I was chatting with the girl (she was older then me but I feel like woman means someone is over 40 or 50) - There needs to be a more generic name for a young female. Coed and gal are stupid.
So that's my experience with Space Available Flying. :)
The gma and gpa and Wayne arrived first on Friday morning.