HEIDELBERG, Germany (Dec. 9, 2011) -- Beginning in February, personnel on permanent change of station orders to Germany will fly overseas using a new phase of the Patriot Express Department of Defense-chartered air travel, which originates at Baltimore/Washington International Airport in Maryland and lands at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The twice-weekly flights begin Feb. 6, 2012, and are expected to enhance the international travel experience for Army personnel and their families. Patriot Express flights are contracted with all the amenities of a traditional international commercial flight and will provide an arrival at an English-speaking airport where dollars are used, not the euro, making the initial transition to a foreign duty station a bit easier.

Other benefits include a higher luggage weight allowance than commercial airlines, with passengers authorized to check two pieces of baggage, each weighing up to 70 pounds.

People traveling with pets should notice a significant savings; although cost for pet travel from the current duty station to BWI will vary based on airline and origin of travel, the cost for the international leg of the flight is expected to average approximately $110 per pet. Also, a veterinarian on duty at the Reception Operations at Ramstein Air Base will clear pets to enter Germany.

The team at Ramstein Air Base will track the flights from BWI and will know of any travel delays. They will meet the passengers regardless of arrival time, help passengers clear customs, and arrange military transportation to their new duty station. The goal is for all new US Army in Europe employees to spend their first night in Germany in their new community.

In early 2012, the USAREUR and Installation Management Command-Europe newcomers' pages will include a Patriot Express Frequently Asked Questions page to help travelers understand how to ensure a smooth ride on their Patriot Express flight.

The Patriot Express microsite, scheduled to launch Dec. 15, will contain more information about the program. The address will be www.eur.army.mil/PatriotExpress.