19. May 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Folks find it strange that I travel to and from my Reserve duty in uniform. In this week’s case, I didn’t have an official appointment as soon as I landed; I didn’t have to report to duty as soon as I landed either. Nonetheless, I have found it beneficial in so many ways.

1.) Air Force Airman Battle Uniforms (ABUs) take up a lot of space in a suitcase. Those boots take up the same space as 2-3 pair of civilian shoes! Wear the boots, bring more civilian shoes with me!
2.) Airlines that waive baggage check fees for military members take one look at you in a uniform and don’t ask any more questions. Military members don’t get charged to check a bag on a lot of carriers (such as Delta). You can produce travel orders and get the waiver even in civilian clothes, but one can just save the time by wearing the uniform.
3.) In the security line, most TSA personnel won’t make a military member look foolish by stripping off his/her coat and boots in front of everyone. Unless you have steel-toed boots, but then they ought to let you go through the aircrew line. Again, it saves time.
4.) When the airline loses your luggage and won’t deliver it until the following morning, you can report to your first day of duty in a uniform, instead of in the civilian clothing you wore on the flight…and probably slept in that night.
5.) There’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’m not wrong in wearing them. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force set guidance in December 2008 allowing official travel on civilian commercial airlines in ABUs. Some don’t agree with that guidance for assorted reasons, but since it’s allowed, it’s just easier for me.

A lot of people thank me for my service during these trips. Folks also say “Welcome Home” to me…assuming I’m coming off a rotator flight or something. I used to REALLY be embarrassed by those statements, particularly before I took my own post-9/11 deployment (albeit a short one). I used to think I didn’t deserve those statements, but since folks only see me as a representation of the entire US Air Force, I tend to take it more as their thanking the Armed Forces in general. Now I just say a simple “Thank YOU” back — since they’re paying my salary and all.