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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Free flight back to the US - COT Travel

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Free flight back to the US - COT Travel

So, I always knew that if you have back-to-back overseas tours...whether it's Germany/Germany, Germany/Belgium, Korea/Germany (seems to be a lot of that lately)...or whatever, you "earn" a free trip back to the US....to your military spouse's home of record.  This just means that the flight has a dollar amount attached to it, back to the home of record, and you can go anywhere in the US for free, as long as it's cheaper than that dollar amount (well, not free...the government pays for it).  If not, you pay out of pocket the amount ABOVE what you are authorized.  So why am I blogging about it?  One...what a pain in the rear to get the paperwork done (be persistent) and also just to let you know it's even available to you.  How do you know you are authorized this free travel for you, your military husband and the rest of your dependents, ie kids?


Look at your military spouse's orders assigning you to your new duty station.  There should be a line in there saying you, the dependents, are authorized COT (Consecutive Overseas Tour) travel.  If you PCSed (moved) from one overseas location to another, you are authorized this travel.  Once you've got those orders in hand, your military spouse then needs to take those orders to his personnel office to initiate the paperwork.  For us, that meant he had to go to three different offices...you know, NATO, no one knows who they really fall under administratively...which is sometimes different from who your boss is....then, when you nail that down, you can actually get the paperwork filled out and turned in.  Then you wait about three weeks and get notified that it came back approved.  My husband got his paperwork, which was indeed another set of orders approving COT travel, via email.

I printed the thing out, then went to our local SATO office...where you can book official and leisure travel.  For our area, it is located in an obscure location on Chievres, next to the PXextra, in a little hole-in-the-wall place.  The ladies in there can then check flights for you.  Our cap, per person, ended up being just over $1000, so we were limited....when did flights get so expensive?  I haven't been back to the US in four years....golly gee!  I almost had to go to Chicago to go back to the East Coast...but instead, ended up going through JFK, which I don't like either, to get to where I'm going.  Forget direct flights, even though my destination is a major East Coast hub...go figure...never just simple, is it?  BTW, SATO at Chievres told me they are now getting some nice last minute deals, so check their specials website.

So, the lady did say if I change my mind about wanting to go to Newark, she can get me through there....great, why would I ever choose to go through there...isn't JFK bad enough?  They don't actually ticket you...which will be an electronic ticket eventually...until the month you leave, so changes can be made up til then.  I know they have government rates and such available to them....but I would still think, when the seats are gone, they are gone....so reserving earlier would be better I would think.

Well, that's the first part of my adventure.  I'll have to blog about the second part...when we actually go....still a long ways off.  You have a year BTW to take advantage of this travel I was told (but I read that Congress upped the amount of time to take it to the full however many years of your second tour)!

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Lacey said...

I did not know about this. Thanks for blogging it. You mentioned Korea/Germany as two overseas bases. So my husband goes to Korea without us, and then we go to germany. So, even though we didn't go to Korea, this would still qualify us?

I'm going to end up having to go back to the states three times in one year for my masters, so this will be nice to take advantage of!

November 14, 2010 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I think in your case, only your husband would be covered, as his orders to Korea would have to show that you accompanied him there to get the benefit? At least that is how I understand it....have him check with his personnel office to be sure. It wouldn't hurt to ask for it!

November 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Lacey Groves said...

you know, you should work at an MPF. You are probably more knowledgable than anyone at our MPF. lol. Thanks so much!

November 16, 2010 at 2:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the details. Women are always better at that. I mentioned it to my husband and he really didn't know, but I knew there was something out there! We'll be moving to Germ in August and I love you blog. Lots of great information.
Keep up the good work!

November 28, 2010 at 3:22 AM  

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