I have received this question a few times so I figured I may as well do a post on it. In most cases, you should know where you will be going after OTS fairly early. As a 13S I knew my next base well before I even left for OTS. Any time you permanently leave a base during your career it is called a Permanent Change of Station (PCS). Most, if not all, will PCS from Maxwell after training.
Prior Active Duty
I believe my case was fairly common so I will go ahead and tell you how it worked for me and hope it covers the majority of situations. I left my last enlisted base as a TSgt with orders to my next officer assignment as a TSgt. My orders did say I was taking a TDY en-route to my next base to OTS though so that was really the only documentation I had that I was to be commissioned. The day before I commissioned I was separated from the AF as a TSgt and commissioned as a 2d Lt the following day. To document this change the OTS personnel section amended our orders which changed my rank on the documents from TSgt to 2d Lt. This is one of those things we did the final week of OTS during our outprocessing appointments.
The only main difference I can think of for the prior enlisted side is if your first base will be tech school or your actual duty assignment. This is decided by the length of your tech school. I don’t have the regulation in front of me, but I believe the number is 20 weeks. If your tech school is lower than 20 weeks like mine, you will PCS to your next base and go TDY to tech school. If your next assignment is over 20 weeks, you will PCS to your actual tech school base. Off the top of my head 13S tech school is a TDY, and 13N and 14N are PCS’s. This of course is subject to change.
Non-Prior Active Duty
The only difference for the non-priors is the starting point is at Maxwell, so I believe everyone in this category PCS’s Maxwell to whatever base you are going to next. The reason I explained the difference between priors and non-priors is because the number of travel days authorized is different for a TDY and a PCS.
Report No Later Than Date (RNLTD)
I am going to use the example of leaving Maxwell AFB, AL after OTS and traveling to Keesler AFB, MS for tech school. Whenever you receive your orders you will be given a RNLTD. This is the latest date you must sign into your next base by. If you would like to get an extension on this date, you can do so fairly easily at OTS. You will need to talk to the personnelists at the PAC counter. The general process is to do a memorandum and it needs to be signed by you and coordinated with the 24 TRS leadership and your gaining base leadership. Once they all sign it, it has to be ultimately approved by the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC). The regulation somewhere says that these changes are not to be done for convenience but for a valid AF need which may sound ominous. When I did mine I simply listed that it would create undue hardships for my children since we were driving across country, and extra days were needed to ease the burden. I believe as long as your gaining unit commander signs off on it AFPC will approve it. I had no problem with my justification. The only thing I recommend you do is start this process early so you don’t have to fret about it at the very end of training.
Once you have your RNLTD the only thing you really need to worry about is getting to your next base by that date. Here are your entitlements if you drive:
- A fixed amount per mile calculated by the DoD from your departing to arriving base (something like $0.60).
- Lodging for the allotted travel days you are authorized.
- Per-diem for the allotted travel days you are authorized.
Your travel days are calculated by one day per 350 or 400 miles of travel. 350 is for PCS, 400 is for TDY. Here is the reference. Since Maxwell AFB to Keesler AFB is approximately 234 miles, you are authorized one travel day. If your base was 1,200 miles away for a TDY, you would have three travel days. There is fine print on this so be sure to check out the link above.
There is currently no formal process for taking leave both for a PCS or TDY en-route. As long as you show up at your next base by the RNLTD, you are good to go. You will be reimbursed for the number of travel days you are authorized and any extra days will be charged as leave. For example if you wanted to spend a day in Pensacola, FL on your way to Keesler you would get your per diem and lodging covered for one day and the other day would be out of pocket.
The Perks of PCSing
- While you are traveling on orders hotels are only authorized to charge you a maximum rate if they have availability. This is calculated by county/zip code and you can find the maximum rate here. The reason I tell you this is because it doesn’t matter how nice the hotel is, that is the maximum rate they can charge you for that location. I took advantage of this benefit by staying in Hilton’s while I traveled from Maxwell to my first base. To get the most out of this, I also used my hotel rewards number so I got credit for the stay. When you book the reservation just be sure to ask for the ‘military’ or ‘government’ rate. The price difference was about $60 for most of the hotels I stayed in, so it was a considerable benefit.
- You can choose how you want to do this for the days you are traveling which will be charged as leave. When I PCS’d to my first base as an officer I actually used my hotel points so the price was basically the same when compared to the government rate. After I thought about it for a while I realized even though you are taking leave en route you are still traveling on official government orders. The rate you negotiate with the hotel is up to the discretion of the hotel so if you inform them you are on government orders and taking leave en route maybe they will give you the government rate anyways. Just be honest with them and have them make the decision, maybe it will save you $60. They are honestly probably just happy to have your business because if they don’t give you a decent rate maybe they will lose your business.
- The last thing I will mention is one more entitlement I may have missed out on if I wasn’t paying attention. Because OTS was a TDY en route instead of a PCS I also had the benefit of the government paying for whatever luggage I took to and from OTS. In order to set this up I had to go to the JPPSO office prior to leaving my last base. They gave me some paperwork told me once I arrived at my next base to just turn in the paperwork to their JPPSO office. Basically prior to packing my car I filled the gas tank and had to get my vehicle weighed at a certified scale. After I packed I did the same thing, then I was to drive to OTS. I had to do the same thing after OTS prior to leaving Maxwell. I was paid an amount per pound because I had to haul the weight with me during my travel. I will note that the amount authorized was different for a TSgt than a 2d Lt, but not by much.