This post sheds a tiny light on taking a hop; a military plane that is super affordable for those who meet requirements. At a glance – yes, military spouses can get on these nearly free flights, BUT they aren’t the easiest get on to and aren’t very reliable.
If you’re a military spouse reading this and thinking “Cool! I can take a hop somewhere sunny this weekend!” I implore you to look at commercial tickets – I can nearly guarantee that you will not qualify to hop to a certain location.
Regardless – who can hop isn’t the point of this post. I want to talk about the things I bring on board when I do hop – both international and domestic. If you’re itching to find out the rules just search for your installation and “PAX terminal” – that will get you in the right direction.
Hopefully my information is dated and it’s easier for dependents to fly. *crosses fingers*
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links; I may earn a tiny commission from purchases.
At the time of writing I have only hopped twice.
- From Travis AFB to Seoul, South Korea upon a C-5 Galaxy (one way).
- From Little Rock, Arkansas to Las Vegas, Nevada (and back) in a C-130J Super Hercules.
The flight experiences were very different, and entirely different from commercial flights. Despite their differences I still carried the same things and had generally great flights.
1. Tissues or your own toilet paper
Never assume that the planes have toilet paper in the lavatory…some don’t even have doors (hello shower curtains). Or maybe another passenger is having issues and used it all…and the crew don’t have spare rolls – it can be anything.
Travel packs of tissue are easy to carry and keep clean in your bag or pocket. If I need the lav I tuck a tissue or two in my bra strap, then empty my pockets before I leave my seat. Nobody wants to lose their phone down the toilet due to turbulence. Bra-strap tissues are easy to reach so you can do your business and get out. If bra straps aren’t an option I trust that you can improvise.
Either ready-to-drink or powdered is up to you. I generally recommend powdered, but if you’re leaving Nellis AFB in June – I recommend ready-to-drink if you can get some on the way to the plane. You may simply want to rehydrate in the air, or the flight might be delayed and the passenger section of the plane becomes a sweat sauna.
You never know – so it’s good to be ready especially if you’re traveling with children. Most planes will have water dispensers, so you should be able to rely on that. Regardless I recommend buying your own in-flight beverages at least a day before you hop – because you may not have time to buy drinks before flying.
These are slightly more relevant to planes with cargo netting everywhere, but can still be useful on a C-5 whose passenger section is more similar to airline seating. Either way, carabiners are useful to wrangle your items; keep them together and out of the way. Planes like C-130s and C-17s are full of red netting thus a million places to hang your purse & jacket.
A quick search on Amazon will show you a robust range of carabiners and carabiner accessories. I prefer plain, but also really enjoy carabiners with bottle openers.
4. Camping Mug or Travel Water Bottle
Some planes and crews will have cups and water – definitely water, but maybe not cups. Steel camping mugs are easy to travel with, and are perfectly suited for any beverage at any time. Like all mugs, the open top may be problematic, so you may want to consider hopping with a hiking flask or other sturdy travel water bottle. Definitely pick something that you can use in other places and situations!
The Jupiter House is fond of Yeti and Stanley products. Search your favorite store’s camping section, or visit an outdoor sporting goods store (like R.E.I. or Academy) for a greater range of in-person products.
5. Reusable Shopping Bags
This favorite item is a perfect pair for those carabiners! Granted I love and use my reusable shopping bags as often as I can, and they are extra handy when hopping on a C-130. Generally I divvy my goods like this:
- Purse and anything I want quick access to.
- Pedialyte and snacks.
- Our trash.
Yes, these planes will often have garbage cans – but that’s where used puke bags go, so I never open them.
6. BONUS! Regardless of season, you may want to bring a warm jacket or blanket. Military aircraft are not insulated the same as commercial planes. This unique factor means that if you’re too warm, just move to a seat nearer a window or door. If you’re too cold (like I always am) try to find an interior seat. But some flights are too full to change seats, and some flights are too choppy to unbuckle, so you just might have to deal with it. I always fly with a light leather jacket because I always get cold, and being warm helps me relax and enjoy the ride.
And that’s it for today! I look forward to hopping again in the future, but I have no idea when that will be. Regardless I hope to ride in a few different models while I can, so I can assess this list and make updates as needed.