“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”
The Best FBOs
When you tell your charter provider, fractional rep or chief pilot that you want to fly to Miami, don't be surprised if you land at Miami International Airport. After all, that's where you said you wanted to go. But don't let the high price of fuel at MIA surprise you, either; you'll pay a huge premium for fuel and services at any of the nation's major metropolitan airports because their overheads are high.
There are alternatives, however, and the results of the annual survey of FBOs by our sister publication, Aviation International News, can help you find excellent service providers at airports that you might want to consider using.
Miami is a good example, with two excellent airports-Opa-locka and Kendall-Tamiami-not far from downtown. In the survey, AIN readers rated FalconTrust Air at Kendall the fourth best FBO. This facility keeps passengers happy with an elegant, wood-paneled library; a fully stocked bar and cigar humidor; and balconies where you can enjoy a clear view of the action on the runway. Jet fuel at FalconTrust costs about $1.50 per gallon less than at the big FBO at MIA.
Perennial favorite Wilson Air Center, in Memphis, tops the AIN list this year again, with a 9.03 rating on a scale of one to 10. Michigan's Pentastar Aviation/ Million Air Pontiac moved into second place from third last year, displacing Long Beach, Calif.'s well-regarded AirFlite, which moved down to number three.
Fort Worth's Texas Jet, number 13 on the list, is new to the Top 40, indicating that more Fort Worth business jet travelers are opting to fly to Meacham Field instead of traffic-choked DFW.
The City of Sugar Land, also in Texas, took the fifth spot in the Top 40, up from eighth last year and proving once again that a government-run FBO can wow its patrons. No other government-owned and -run FBO made it onto this year's list. Sugar Land was also the only government-owned FBO on last year's Top 40.
Two FBOs that made strong showings this year-Banyan Air Service in Fort Lauderdale and Premier Jet in Carlsbad, Calif.-joined the Top 40 in a tie for seventh place (along with Million Air Dallas). Both FBOs built elaborate and attractive facilities recently and are likely enjoying the results of those efforts.
The AIN survey annually asks FBO users to rate the facilities that they frequent on a one-to-10 scale in four key categories: line service; passenger amenities; pilot amenities; and facilities. The survey covers North, South and Central America, plus U.S. territories and the Caribbean. At least 40 ratings are required for a U.S. FBO to be listed in the final results. Non-U.S. FBOs must receive at least 25 ratings. For the 2008 survey, AIN invited 14,781 subscribers to participate and received a response rate of 13.3 percent.
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