The Patriot Express (PE), formerly known as a CAT B flight, is a United States government contract flight which provides support to United States Armed Forces members and their families. Flights are operated by various commercial airlines and provide service worldwide, mainly across the Pacific and Europe.[1]


Air Mobility Command, the air component of United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), manages the PE program on behalf of the United States Department of Defense.[2] The PE program was advertised as being more economical for the United States government while freeing United States Air Force planes for primary military missions. In addition, using chartered commercial aircraft eliminates potential hardships that could arise if a higher priority mission was to divert a military aircraft. Military personnel and their families can also take advantage of the program for Space-A travel.[3]

Pacific routes

Across the Pacific, the PE program uses Boeing 767 commercial aircraft. These flights arrive and depart from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in the United States.[4][5] They serve Yokota Air Base, Misawa Air Base, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, and Kadena Air Base in Japan as well as Osan Air Base in Korea. A PE to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam was added in March 2020. The Guam mission is a 6-month "proof of principle."[6]

European routes

European routes originate at the Baltimore International Airport in the United States, stop in Europe, then continue on to Southwest Asia before returning. Space-A travel is not allowed on routes to and from combat zones.[7]

Inflight service

Inflight service on board PE flights is similar to that on normal commercial aircraft, providing such amenities as business class meals, inflight movies, snacks, and reserved seating. Several of the changes were made in 2003 in an effort to attract more passengers to the program.[8][9]


At one point the PE system handled over 340,000 passengers a year, with more than two-thirds of the seats on the contracted aircraft filled by passengers on Permanent Change of Station orders.[9] In 2005, citing cost, flexibility and empty seats, the Department of Defense began to scale down PE service over a period of several years. Flights to South Korea and Okinawa were eliminated and other routes reduced. This required servicemembers and their families to take commercial flights to and from the affected locations.[2][10]

In February 2010, USTRANSCOM announced that it would resume services to South Korea in April and add flights to Japan.[11][unreliable source?]


  1. ^ Lake, Jason (8 March 2004). "AMC commander explains Patriot Express cutbacks". Archived from the original on 26 November 2004. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Patriot Express Restructures". 2 February 2004. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Nothing Second Class About "Patriot Express" Service". 5 May 1999. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Patriot Express changes route". 26 February 2010. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  5. ^ Capt Cooper, Amy (10 February 2010). "New Pacific Patriot Express routes connect Korea, expand Japan services". Archived from the original on 22 April 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Patriot Express to begin routine flights to and from Guam". Andersen Air Force Base. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  7. ^ Harris, Kent (26 March 2007). "Space-A Flights to Change Through Europe". Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  8. ^ "AMC improves customer service on Patriot Express flights". 10 February 2003. Retrieved 25 June 2010.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b TSgt Diamond, Mark (2 December 2005). ""Patriot Express" reengineering on track". Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Patriot Express Flights To Be Eliminated". 5 February 2004. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  11. ^ "USAF Expands Patriot Express Flight Services for Pacific Theatre". 16 February 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.