Flight costs and not living at home anymore

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by AFA2020, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. AFA2020

    AFA2020 Member

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    I know these questions may seem random, but I've been curious and would appreciate any information...

    Does USAFA typically pay for plane travel when heading home for breaks?

    Also, what did some cadets do with all their material items back home? In understanding that they will be at USAFA for four years, did some of your cadets have a yard sale before leaving or during a break? I guess this is more in terms of clothing.
     
  2. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    USAFA does not pay for your travel during breaks. That is up to you. The only plane ticket that they pay for is your trip to Colorado Springs for I-day.

    We kept all of our son's clothes and other belongings at our house for the 4 years that he was there at USAFA. His room pretty much stayed his room until he moved to Texas after graduation. In fact he still keeps clothes and things in a dresser in that room for when he is home visiting. I'm sure every situation is different depending on your family.

    Stealth_81
     
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  3. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    I pretty much had the same situation as Stealth. Tickets for leave and Liberty are on the Cadet, same situation in the fleet. My parents kept my room until I graduated and then it was either 'take it or it goes.'
     
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  4. FalconsRock

    FalconsRock Parent

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    My DD has not even left for I-day yet and we have decided that her brother will be taking her bedroom. My DS has always had the smaller room and it will be his turn to have the "nice" room until he goes off to college in 2018.

    Over the Christmas break , my DD painted her room and packed up some of her things already and we will store them in her brother's room for her while she is in school. She sorted through her entire room and took everything that she outgrew plus all the "stuff" that she no longer wants, to the donation center. She actually feels free and inspired by the whole decluttering event.

    My advice, whether or not you keep your own room, would be to at least sort through and clean out the clutter. Your parents will have a more organized room and you will have less to go through when the time comes to move it to your own place further down the road.

    One more thought to ponder; sorting through your stuff now may save a headache later as you could possibly get orders to deploy and the movers or parents will pack all your stuff, trash included. Ask me how I know.;)

    Aim high!
     
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  5. AFA2020

    AFA2020 Member

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    Thank you Stealth_81, NavyHoops, and FalconsRock! I will probably just save up for my flights while at the Academy. I do plan on having a yard sale before I leave and selling a lot of my clothes to some of my XC friends. I rather have it go to another home and person where it'll be used and not just sitting there in my drawers. Plus I might have some extra money for those flights and I can also donate whatever I have left.

    I'll definitely be inspired just like your daughter FalconsRock
     
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  6. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    USAFA does not pay for your transportation at TG, Christmas, spring break, summer leave. We paid for our twins to come home for all those breaks (flights for two at Thanksgiving over $1100 several times), but when they became firsties, we thought they should pay. So, they drove home on some very long trips, but with other cadets, usually. Then, they skipped spring break at home.

    As for their things, we have labeled boxes in our basement with their treasures. Even now that both are married and fathers (one expectant father, one with second on the way), we still store their childhood memorabilia, because we have the room and figure one day, they'll want this "stuff." (Hey, it's a holiday!)
     
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  7. Craig

    Craig Member

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    Remember your kids report for active duty when they arrive at the academy. The SA becomes their "home" until they are assigned their next post/ship. Whenever they report to their next duty station travel is paid for like it was report day. Also, travel to training is paid for (I.e. summer training). When they come home, that is leave (personal vacation). Just like in the civilian world, they don't pay for you leave "home".
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
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  8. Rocko

    Rocko Member

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    I'm not sure if the deals are still out there or if it is possible for you, but the Southwest Visa by Chase was offering 50,000 points if you opened a new card. When my DS went in we opened one for both my wife and I giving us 100,000 points (Worth about 6 round trip flights from where we live). After a year I cancelled one of them and kept the other. We have yet to pay for a single flight for him.
     
  9. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    When your cadet moves to his first duty station (UPT for ours), they will be allowed ONE move paid for by the AF from their home of record (usually Mom & Dad's). My son's then fiancee had all her furniture shipped to our home via U-Haul (her parents and siblings brought it from NJ to PA), then we stored it for two months in our living room. Then the AF moved it all, for free, to Vance AFB.
     
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  10. AFA2020

    AFA2020 Member

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    That's very smart and I'll definitely be looking into that if I do gain an appointment! Thank you!
     
  11. AFA2020

    AFA2020 Member

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    Totally understandable. Was just curious if flight costs to home were included. Thanks!
     
  12. AFA2020

    AFA2020 Member

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    My mom will definitely save the "stuff" if I don't get rid of it for her. Those prices are a bit high, though understandable because of the holidays, but I'll for sure have to start saving. Thank you!
     
  13. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    This ^^. If people reading this want to learn the tricks of the trade, read on and take copious notes. :) Over the 4 years, I suspect we paid under $1000 total for USAFA related airfare as a family. And our DS flies a lot. We visit USAFA on average 3-4 times a year as well. The past 4 years and USAFA airfare travel has cost a grand total of $1000. Let's NOT talk about hotel fees (measured in the thousands). What we have done is pay for all of the kids airfare to visit home as well as graduate school interviews.

    We are SWA bigots. With the Southwest Airlines Visa by Chase, you can book with points and not get penalized if you cancel (miles are re-banked). So for the breaks, we will book 2-3 best guess trips and cancel the ones that eventually won't work. The reality is schedules are way too fluid at USAFA and can change on a dime. So long as you cancel within an hour of the flight leaving, you are able to to re-bank the miles and get back the $6 booking fee. So there is no penalty for re-banking. With most airlines, you pay a minimum of 25,000 miles (35,000 miles is typical) and get charged change fees. We are planners and book early. On average, out round trip SWA flights are around 12,000 miles. Some RT flights have been 6,000 points. This is a major advantage for SWA frequent flyer points over other carriers.

    Though my business, I put on $400,000+ worth of charges on my credit card (which turns into 400,000 frequent flyer miles). At 110,000 and SWA, you get a free companion ticket for the entire year. We have 2 Chase cards so my wife and I both have a free companion option. It gets better. If you use the 50,000 points when filing out for the card (and the promo) add an additional 60,000 points (by charging $60,000) you will hit the 110,000 miles in a calendar year. the neat thing is you get that companion ticket from the date you earn the 110,000 miles. So in our case, we earned the companion ticket inside of 3 months and it was good for the remaining 9 months PLUS the following year. You assign a person to travel with but can change the name up to 3 times a calendar year. It gets even better. You can add that extra free person all the way up to the very day of flight.

    SWA is very military friendly (the best in the business) which is why I love them so much! Explain your situation and they bend the rules to change your same day travel for free (we have done this several times). Every SWA person our family has talked with is compassionate when it comes to the military. One of 5 calls that were honored was: "My orders have changed and now I do not have to report back for till 6 hours later. I'd love to spend another 6 hours with my family but the next flight out is over my budget." They did it for the same price ( but it had to be the same day travel).

    Since cadets are active duty, they get military rates when we get caught without a solution. Many times we have gotten $100 one-ways 6 hours before the plane takes off. Did I mention I was a SWA bigot yet? :) Other airlines also have active military rates and we recently used American Airlines. The one way ticket was $380 but it beat the $600 posted rate. Even at a military rate, I suspect this was the most expensive 1 way ticket I have ever paid and it might include international travel. But so long is it isn't a major holiday, SWA has last minute incredible rates for active duty members.

    We do everything possible to book with SWA. They have been so good to work with, we will continue to give them every opportunity to fly with them post USAFA experience. But getting deals fries-up a lot time to hone in on the best deal.

    I'll sum it up with the following example. We are flying from MN to AZ for graduation week. My wife got a rate of 12,000 miles round trip. She is flying with me for free. So two round trip tickets for 12,000 total. This is the rule and not the exception for us. I hope this long-winded post helps!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2016
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  14. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Yes, one must accept flexibility in flight when considering flying to/from COS. We occasionally DROVE to OHIO so sons could fly out of Akron on Frontier, and even with the drive, saved well over $400 so worth it.

    Many of the SWA deals didn't exist when my kids were cadets, or we didn't have access to a close enough airport to make it pay off.

    One thing parents/siblings note: since your child is at USAFA (OR USNA, USMA, ETC), you are allowed to get a security pass and go to the gate, both when waiting for them to arrive, and when they depart, you can go and sit at the airport with them during those long waits. We used to meet all sorts of USAFA parents at the airport. You go to the airline and get the pass, then go through security just as if you were the passenger.
     
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  15. afmom2020

    afmom2020 Member

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    This is great info. Thank you. Do you know if we need to show them some kind of proof, especially when picking them up?
     
  16. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    This is completely dependent on the airport and the airline. It can even vary depending on the particular gate agent on duty at the time because the rule is open to interpretation since it is actually meant for parents/family taking someone to the gate who is being deployed. This has been discussed every year in our Parent's group briefing and I have heard many stories of parents who were not allowed to do this. It is fine to ask for permission, but don't be surprised or offended if it doesn't happen.

    Stealth_81
     
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  17. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    We have done it at every airport we've tried, and usually, the airline personnel are very pleased to accommodate us. One caveat: if you go at the absolute busiest time, well, they may not be as danged happy to help, ya know?

    Of course, the Steeler Nation is indeed a most special place, truly appreciative of the US armed services, so it's just one reason y'all should MOVE here. :)
     
  18. DanGir

    DanGir Member

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    Seems to me it would probably be easy to rack up frequent flier miles if you have the ability to put $400, 000 on a credit card.
     
  19. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Well, I could do that, I suppose, but then I'd have to get an attorney because fencersfather would have us on a plane to Reno (SWA?) in no time. Divorce: $59; Annulment: Free in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
     
  20. MN-Dad-2016

    MN-Dad-2016 Member

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    OBVIOUSLY 400K miles helps. Thanks for pointing out that out. :rolleyes: I was addressing people who run $$'s through their business in combination with the 50,000 SWA promo. For those people, it is not too hard to hit an additional $60K in charges and thereby reaching the magical 110,000 miles on the card (with a free companion). Meaning 50K on the card plus another $60K in purchases. You can really make that stretch if you are smart.

    The reality is without SWA flexible and lower than average miles for a ticket, 400,000 miles of frequent flyer miles won't go far. Last minute flights on regular perk cards cost north of 50,000 miles. That is a measly 8 tickets. For us (the banking concept, companion ticket, and being able to cancel unwanted tickets), we are able to fly 35-40 flights because we can plan without precision.
     

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