Travel home during break


New Member
Apr 15, 2017
I am a class of 2021 appointee and I was wondering if plane tickets home during break( Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) are paid for or if cadets have to purchase themselves? Plane tickets to my home town are pricy and if I have to purchase my own tickets I will be unable to travel home at least the first year.
Note: I know cadets are paid about 12,000$ a year but I read 10,000$ is deducted the first year for uniforms and other necessary items.
Nope, you'll have to purchase tickets yourself for all breaks. If you can't go home, try and at least establish a good relationship with your sponsor family while you're here-USAFA doesn't provide food during these breaks but instead provides you an allowance in your next paycheck.

It's pretty common for people to not go home for Thanksgiving, since it's a short break. If you can manage, I would encourage you to try and save to go home over winter break, since that break is so long, and then trying to do a spring break program like Habitat for Humanity, where you can get away from USAFA and not pay for airline tickets.
Fun screen name.

Travel home from SAs during leave (vacation) periods is personal travel, so it's your responsibility.

If you are soon to be a HS grad, the perfect graduation gifts might be airline gift cards or Visa/MasterCard gift cards or cash.

If you do end up not traveling, with luck, you will make friends with Colorado classmates and get yourself adopted for the holiday. Long-standing military tradition, people unable to get home or away are taken care of.

This is also a great opportunity to set up a personal budget if you don't already have one, so you can track income and outflow, differentiating between needs vs. wants.
The $10,000 is not all deducted during the first year. It is spread out over your time at the Academy. But, as previously posted, start now learning how to budget, then budgeting on your net pay will be easier and allow you to purchase airline tickets.
Maybe you can look into flying into a bigger airport a little further that has less expensive flights. Thanksgiving was pricey but the flight home for Christmas wasn't bad because my cadet traveled midweek after his last final. You'll have to wait awhile to know when that will be though. I'd suggest that you look at some apps like Hopper to track flight prices. is a popular free budget app. Many of the USNA mids we sponsor use it.
My kids in their 4* year flew into/out of an airport over 100 miles away, even though we live about 10 miles from our neighboring city's major airport. It was significantly cheaper (especially since there were two of them), that it made the gas/time worth the effort. By their firstie year, things had changed and it was cheaper to fly closer to home.

You (or your parents) will have time to check out some travel sites for good deals, such as they are at Thanksgiving. We paid over $1100 for our boys to fly home their first two years at TG, but fares at Christmas time were closer to $600. My husband was tempted to wrap the receipt up and put THAT under the tree. :) Fencersdad is funny that way.
Navyhoops Mom and Dad were funny... they did make my ticket home for Christmas as my gift each year along with new black socks and white t shirts for my uniforms as my gifts. My tickets were only 3 days long as I had to be back for basketball.

Concur with everyone to make every effort to go home for Christmas. Understand some kids have bad relationships with family, but if it's just a money thing then try to. It will help with your sanity. If you haven't graduated yet, for birthdays and Christmas gifts ask for airline (whichever one you would likely use, might take some research) gift cards or cash to stow away.
Denver is much cheaper to fly in and out of than COS and if u can find a larger airport near your home it may only cost you half as much. DS loves to fly Southwest because they don't charge you make changes and their prices are usually the lowest in his case.
Once (and only once), it was just $6 more each way to fly out of COS than DEN. $6!!!!! That more than paid for the extra time, gas, and tolls on I25, and made things so much easier. Of course, you'll check out both before you decide.

The thing that used to bug me, in an OH MY GOSH MY KIDS WILL BE STRANDED sort of fashion, was that by spring of their 4* year, the twins made absolutely NO plans to travel to USAFA from DEN. :eek3::eek::mad: Their reasoning, which never failed them, was that one can always spot a cadet at Denver International and there's always someone, somewhere, to give them a ride. Of course, they left PLENTY of time to find that cadet. Not recommended for nervous parents, nervous cadets, or those whose flight times are really tightly scheduled.
There are good pieces of advice in the replies. To summarize: for you it is important to establish a good relationship with your sponsor family as they may be your best option for relief from campus during some breaks; learn and work on budgeting from the time of your first payment from USAF; prioritize your travel options knowing the Thanksgiving and Spring Break times are shorter than Christmas and Summer leave periods; set alerts for some discount airlines once school starts so you know when there are discounted tickets available; and, finally, do not overlook multiple airport options when looking at tickets.

I would add that Cadets have their own private chats where they arrange travel to and from airports so you may find rides for much cheaper than what is set up by outside services. Secondly, look for other opportunities if you cannot travel home during a break. This year during Spring Break several groups of Cadets worked on homes with Habitat for Humanity. I think once you get there you will find there are a lot of options, but you will be an adult and expected to figure out things on your own.
Try to remember, also, those cadets who can't get home, for whatever reason, during breaks. If your family is willing and able, ask them to come along. Sure, Mom and Dad, and baby sis, and girlfriend, and former I-can't-live-without-my-XXX-club buddies, will have to share your time, but it is a nice thing to do. This advice pertains to AFTER graduation as well. There were times when we had 2nd LTs at our table whom we had never met, when our own kids were unable to get home.
+1 to fencersmother. DS did NROTC and not an academy, but the same travel issues apply there as well. Costs are high. Distances are long. There's been many a time we had additional midshipmen at the Thanksgiving dinner table or joining us on a spring break vacation. Worked the other way too where DS got invited to attend a cool vacation with another midshipman's family. There is nothing better than having them join you.
Don't forget about the budget, no-frills airlines. Of course they usually only serve certain airports so that may not be an option for your travel destination.
For example this year the entire family did the long drive to CS for PW. For Thanksgiving our DS flew a no frills airline to a small airport 2 hours from our home. At Christmas we were able to use points and fly him into our home town airport. Spring Break he flew into another airport about 2 hours away. So for year one he came home three times and flew into three different airports. He flew out of Denver on both trips that did not include points.

He arranged rides to and from the airport each time on his own with upperclass Cadets he did not know prior to the ride.
We live near the first leg of a cargo route to Joint Base Andrews, flights with firm availability and 2 stops before heading east. Heading back west it looks like flights every 10 days from the passenger terminal.

Is Space A worth it on occasion, or just a hassle?