Nothing Second Class About "Patriot Express" Service
Special to American Forces Press Service
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., May 5, 1999 Don't be puzzled when you're poring over schedules looking for free space-available military flights and run across the term "Patriot Express." That's Air Mobility Command's new name for its commercial charter flights.
"We felt 'Cat B' gave military travelers the feeling they were receiving a lower standard of service," said Capt. Charlene Purtee, chief of AMC passenger commercial services. "These flights have never been what you would consider 'second class.' We're trying to make more people aware that 'Patriot Express' is a cost-effective and convenient way to travel."
AMC contracts charters with commercial carriers because it is an economical, efficient way of moving large numbers of personnel where they need to go, Purtee said. Contracting also frees Air Force planes for primary military missions.
Charter seats not filled by official fliers are assigned free to space-available travelers, who include active and reserve component members on leave, retirees and academy cadets.
From the travelers' standpoint, the charters eliminate the hardships incurred when higher priority missions divert military aircraft, she said. Personnel also can plan moves and leisure travel months ahead because flight schedules are set well in advance.
"We contract with established carriers and are confident we will be on time for the majority of our flights," Purtee noted. Besides scheduling benefits, Patriot Express flights have the usual amenities travelers expect -- and some they might not.
"The flights are at least equal to the commercial economy class and, in some cases, a bit better," she said. For instance, travelers on some flights can expect hot towels, free movies and headsets, and more leg room than found on most commercial airlines, she noted. "Also, we are able to transport more pets than normally accommodated on commercial routes."
Patriot Express flights currently leave out of Seattle-Tacoma International, Los Angeles International, Baltimore-Washington International, Atlanta Hartsfield International and Charleston (S.C.) International.
Visit the Air Mobility Command Web site at http://public.scott.amc.af.mil/ for full details on space- available flight rules and procedures, flight schedules, passenger operations addresses and phone numbers, sign-ups and more.
[From a U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command news release]