Published April 01, 2013
Pull out those peanuts. Military personnel on rest & recuperation leave will now get to fly commercial.
As of April 1, troops on leave from the U.S. Central Command --an area stretching from Egypt to Afghanistan-- are no longer required to travel on government charter flights and can instead book seats to their final destinations on commercial carriers, according to a press release from Army News, via the DOD website.
Previously troops were required to take charter flights to Atlanta or the Dallas area from Kuwait. The change comes amid a scale down of troops in the region. At peak troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 1,000 passengers a day were flying on charter airlines, according to the release. Today, that number has fallen to only several dozen a day. Also, due to the shortened tours of nine-months, versus 12 months, many military personnel no longer qualify for mid-deployment leave.
The move also gives troops much more flexibility, said Army spokesman Hank Minitrez. Now troops will be able to fly directly to the airport closest to their approved leave destination and don't have to wait for the next available charter flight--which reduces the number of travel days and helps boost morale.