Going public about flying private

Business Jet Traveler » August 2012
Going public about flying private
Most people assume that “I flew in this morning” means you took off your shoes, wasted an hour at a departure gate and then squeezed into a widebody.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 2:15pm

Years ago, I flew my small airplane to visit my sister. She was shooting photos at a three-day equestrian event at a friend’s private horse farm. When it came time for me to leave, she asked the host’s son if he could drive me back to the airport. When he said, “What time’s your flight?” I paused, smiled and replied, “Whenever I get there, I guess.”

Never mind that the car he drove cost five times what I paid for my secondhand sportplane. He was impressed. And why should I say anything to burst his bubble? What he didn’t know wasn’t hurting him a bit.

There may be some social circles where it’s presumed that you travel on your own airplane, either up front or in the back. But most people assume that “I flew in this morning” means you took off your shoes, wasted an hour at a departure gate and then squeezed into a widebody with a few hundred strangers.

Here are three ways to spill the beans to your friends and colleagues that you don’t have to worry about being bumped from flights and your travel agendas aren’t tied to e-tickets:

1. Brag like hell. False modesty is as phony as false pride, right? So, bring your dog to the meeting and be sure to mention how well he “heels” when you’re walking across the tarmac. Chat about the crew and refer to their families by their first names (even if you have to make them up). Wear your windbreaker with the jet manufacturer’s logo. Make sure everyone knows that you’ll be arriving home that evening in time for an event that they can’t possibly attend–and tell them you’ll pass along their best wishes to everyone else there. You know–rub it in a little. (P.S. Please don’t be this guy.)

2. Be humble. When conversation turns to airline delays, canceled flights and missed meetings, simply say that the time saved by avoiding airlines makes flying privately a bargain. For you, it’s not about the glamour of private jets at all; it’s about the simple logic of maximizing your time and space. Explain that you’re “buying” extra ticks on the clock, the one commodity you’re guaranteed to run out of one day.

3. Be subtle (sort of). Let everyone assume you flew on the airlines. They might be puzzled when you idly mention at lunch that you had breakfast at home–which they know is 1,200 miles away and a 90-minute drive to the nearest big airport. They might wonder why, when the agenda gets extended, you’re the only one not scrambling to rebook your return flight. But then, when someone offers to share a cab to the airport, you’ll have to admit that you’ll be skipping the excitement of the security check and departing from the general aviation terminal or from a totally different (much closer) airport. Your “secret” will be out.

These are only three examples. We all have our individual perspectives on how to project our personal image. Traveling by business jet makes a statement. It’s up to you to decide on the language–and volume–you want that statement to assume.

FILED UNDER: 
Share this...

Comments

No Avatar
learman
on August 2, 2012 - 3:21pm

The fact is that private flying does not save time without extracting a huge financial cost. I was an airline captain for years. Small single-engines through light twins and small corporate aviation. The car wins.

No Avatar
Jim
on August 2, 2012 - 3:38pm

Actually, there is a window of distance in which the personal aircraft is a time winner. Somewhere in the 300-1000 mile range (depending on the aircraft), it is easy to schedule the total of (drive to the local airport, preflight and fly, land, and go to Aunt Millie's house) with far less time than (drive to airline airport, go thru check-in, go thru security, wait for the flight, fly, get out of the airport with luggage, and get to Aunt Millie's). And certainly, for anything over 100 miles, I can fly faster than drive.
Then there is the matter of bringing along the dog, or the target rifle, or a large potted plant for a house gift. Not on any airline I know of.

The financial difference need not be huge, and I may find it worth a few dozen dollars to have more time with the family.

No Avatar
David
on August 2, 2012 - 4:00pm

Dear learman: I could not possibly disagree with you more. My wife and I fly to our getaway home almost every weekend. In a car it is a 2.5 - 3.0 hour drive. In our Diamond Star DA-40 XLS it is a 37 minute flight (using 8 gallons of fuel). We would rarely visit our getaway home if not for the plane because it's just not worth driving 6 hours for one weekend.

Our Diamond has retained its value well over the years, its insurance is less than our home's electric bills and the annual maintenance is about the same.

If not for our Diamond, we would be like most of our neighbors at our lakefront getaway - their homes sit vacant almost every weekend. That is the real waste - to own a nice vacation home but not use it because you dread the 6 hours in a car just to spend two days on the lake.

No Avatar
SR22
on August 2, 2012 - 3:55pm

Seriously, the car wins? You're kidding right? Just because you flew at 400+kts in your jet doesn't mean our lowly singles don't save time at 175kts. My multiple 1 & 2 hour flights per week beg to differ. There is no possible way I would be at our remote office by 8:00 a.m. and home at night to tuck in our kids without the use of my SR22.

No Avatar
NeverAirline
on August 2, 2012 - 3:57pm

I know for a fact that the company I fly for would spend at least a week if not two using the airlines to do what they do in two days. Most of the places they need to go are far from any airport served by an airline. The bottom line for them is their time is worth way more than the cost differential of their jet vs airline and drive.

No Avatar
John C.
on August 2, 2012 - 3:59pm

Sorry to disagree with a fellow old retired airline airline captain, but the time and exasperation saved is substantial and cannot be measured in dollars. As to cost, two or more aboard usually offsets ticket prices with money left over for a rental car at the other end. How much do you value flexibility? How about safety? I'd rather trust ATC than some of the drivers out on the highway.

No Avatar
JC
on August 2, 2012 - 4:00pm

There's a lot to be said for exercising our option of flying -

1 - because we can (not so in a lot of countries) - even with the enormous overhead involved here in the US.
2 - it's our choice, our skill set, our challenge - and we're still able to exercise them all.
3 - it's just cooler than h@ll to make a statement -- even if I only fly a lowly single engine Comanche... I still love it!

Practicality be d@mned - drag my rocket out of the hanger and someone call the fuel truck?

JC
260 Comanche
Atlanta, GA

No Avatar
dave
on August 2, 2012 - 4:02pm

Depends what your time is worth and if the distance is worth it. I'm flying myself to NJ from NC tomorrow in a small single. 9 hr drive, 3 hr flight. Round trip difference is 12 hours. That's 12 more hours I can rest, be productive, or just spend time with the family I hardly see. Well worth a few hundred more bucks. And who honestly enjoys paying all those northeast tolls?

No Avatar
David Cook
on August 2, 2012 - 4:15pm

Dear Learman,

While I am sure you are speaking from your experience, I respectfully disagree. Last week I flew 5 project managers from Wisconsin to 3 different job sites in Indiana and Ohio for 3 separate customers and were back by 1615. We flew a 6-place Piper Saratoga. Total cost for airplane = $1200

Impossible to accomplish what we did in one day with the airlines, period. Driving would have meant all five people out of the office for at least 2 days each along with meals, hotels, gas etc. That's 10 person days lost.

The customer service we provided could mean the difference between getting the next job or not.

Please think about the whole picture and not just fuel, insurance and pilot costs....let's help GA survive. Our company depends upon it.

Thank you,
David Cook, AMEL, IFR, Comm

No Avatar
todd
on August 2, 2012 - 4:27pm

who wants to drive? been doing that for 30+ years. when given the option; I'd fly. It's more fun.

let's play would you rather...

would you rather drive from Oakland to Sacramento (1.5hrs if traffic typical)to pick-up friend and then drive down to Fresno (3 hours) to visit other friends you haven't seen in 10 years. then reverse the next day?

or would you rather fly Oakland to Sacramento (30 mins) and fly down to Fresno (a little over an hour)?

the extra price in fuel is well worth the time spent not in the car

No Avatar
Kodiaker
on August 2, 2012 - 4:32pm

I work for an aircraft OEM based on a small GA airport. Due to unforeseen circumstances we needed a part the next day. The part was at our supplier based at a regional airport 250 nm away. They could not ship the part. It would take 13 hours to drive the round trip and cost about $250 @ $.50/mile. Commercial airline flight would take 9 hours to drive to nearby int'l airport, get TSA'd, fly to int'l airport near supplier, drive to supplier to pick up the part, drive back to int'l airport fly to origin int'l, drive back to our facility. Airfare, rental car (at destination), gas totaling just under $600.
Or, I could (and did) walk across our ramp, rent the trusty 172, do the whole round trip in 6 hours for $540. If you throw in $20 per hour for my time add $260 to the car ride, $180 to the airline ride, and $120 to the 172 ride. So:
Car: 13 hours, $510
Airline: 9 hours, $780
172: 6 hours (headwind), $660 and home for supper.

Made sense to me.

No Avatar
Dale Doelling
on August 2, 2012 - 4:41pm

Flying doesn't save time? Is that the only reason we fly? Is there anything sexier (wives excluded!) than climbing into the left seat, listening to the engine come alive, doing your runup, and then hearing the tower clear you for takeoff? You push the throttle forward, pull back gently on the yoke and, lo and behold, you're airborne and heading for your destination. Sorry folks, but it just doesn't get much better than that!

No Avatar
Arthur
on August 2, 2012 - 4:51pm

My wife had to be at her mother's place near Greenwood, Delaware ASAP. This is before we had Southwest Airlines flying in to GSP. Before that it was a four hour drive to Atlanta and waiting on a flight out, or a three hour drive to Charolotte, same procedure. We rented a Bonanza 36 and flew from Greenville Downtown (GMU) to Georgetown, Delaware in 2.5 hours. No security checks, no lay overs, and we borrowed a car for the quick trip to her mother's place. MY flight instructor and I returned the airplane to GMU. Days later after the funeral we shared expenses on a Cherokee Arrow for the return flight and I stayed behind to pick up my wife when they came back that same afternoon. Downside; it was expensive, but worth it to be hassle free and we enjoyed the view at the lower altitudes.

No Avatar
Todd
on August 2, 2012 - 4:54pm

Sleep in on a Saturday, get to Martha's Vineyard in 1 hour, have breakfast, spend the day at South Beach, back home for dinner (1 hour flight). Fuel:$100,beach parking for the day $20 Try that in a car!

No Avatar
Joe Z
on August 2, 2012 - 5:17pm

I regularly fly between Florida and NJ. Driving = 18 to 20 hours. Scrap that idea. Commercial 1 1/2 hr drive to Orlando, arrive at least 1 hr early....parking time...1/2 hr...terminal to terminal 3 hrs...baggage claim 1/2 hr....drive from Newark to destination...1 hr. Total time commercial usually 7 1/2 to 8 hrs.....did it plenty of times. Cessna 210....5 minutes to local airport....preflight, flight with one fuel stop, and arrive at local airport, tie down 5 hrs. 5 minutes to destination in loaner car. Total time 5hrs 10 minutes to 5 1/2 hrs.

No Avatar
Lon Sobel
on August 2, 2012 - 5:49pm

It makes sense to compare the time and cost of flying vs driving, or flying GA vs commercial, if you are a passenger in the plane. If, though, you are the pilot, then the joy of piloting is its own reward. I think many GA pilots fly for the purpose of flying. The destination is incidental. If the destination has its own purpose involving family, friends or business, that's a very nice bonus. But it is a bonus. Piloting the plane is the main event.

No Avatar
ArtR
on August 2, 2012 - 6:26pm

My parents live in Michigan, my wifes in Wisconsin and we live in MN.
Aircraft is a C182 which uses unleaded mogas. Here are the comps (all are round trip):

Commercial:
2.5 hour drive to MSP; $50 parking
DL MSP-GRR x 4 tickets (family): $925 + luggage fees, porter tips, etc.
Enroute: 2 hrs +/-
1 hr prior arrival for TSA fol-de-rol
1 hr GRR to parents house

Same for reverse.
Total transit times: 15 hours
Total costs: ~$1,000

Driving: 28 hours
Chicago Tolls: expensive
Fuel costs: $175
Meals: $80
Costs around $270
(note IRS mileage rate is around $.50/mile = $1100)

Flying the C182:
10 minutes to airport
10 minutes pre-flight/filing etc.
Enroute time: 3:35 min.
10 minutes to parents house.
Aircraft uses standard unleaded alcohol free fuel @ $4/gal.
Trip time: 8:00 hours
Trip fuel costs: $345. (fuel and oil only)
(note IRS mileage rate $1.25/mile=$1030)

So, according to the IRS it is cheaper to fly my Cessna than to take the car or the airlines.
It saves time, and money, especially when more than one person is traveling. And I don't have to pay for the Tri-State Tollway parking arena.

Generally for trips of less than 800 nm (about 1 tank of fuel), it is more economical and usually more flexible to take the family bugsmasher than to drive or deal with the airlines, airline fees for baggage in the hold, baggage on board, and amenities. If I want a soda, I can bring them with me for a quarter a can instead of coughing up $2-3 for certain airlines. Come to think of it, the only thing missing in my GA experience is there is no toilet on board. Rarely I have been delayed by adverse weather, but generally not by very much. That can and does happen with the airlines, too.

No Avatar
Sam
on August 2, 2012 - 6:44pm

5 hrs. from Fresno to Redlands driving. 2 hrs in my 172. No freeways and 6 hrs. more time with my family-(6 grandchildren, need I say more.) Plus, I'm not tired when I arrive. This is a no brainer.

No Avatar
Doug
on August 2, 2012 - 6:48pm

Just got in to Miami via Cessna Stationaire
Scenic flight at 8k'
4-4.5 hrs total drive/fly/cab to South Beach
Commercial would have been a 05:30 departure and 09:30 arrival with no hotel room ready. Not to mention headache of TSA, checked bags hassle.

Private allowed breakfast at Hominy Grill http://hominygrill.com/
10:30a departure and arrived at check-in time and able to sign in for conference registration with time to relax before first gathering.

For some more fascinating info...
http://www.miamiproject.miami.edu/
Why I'm in Miami

No Avatar
Joe Z
on August 2, 2012 - 7:23pm

Driving..gas, tolls, one night in motel, meals = $460.00

Commercial flight.....airport parking, gas in car driving to Orlando, airline ticket, one hour cab ride = $486.00

Cessna......fuel, lunch = $450.00

No Avatar
harrison krenitsky
on August 2, 2012 - 7:54pm

As both an airline pilot and owner of a Seneca II, I can only say, "if you’ve got the money to spare go by private air." For me, a 200 nautical mile trip seems to be a cross over point for time savings. To be cost effective, that same trip must be flown with four people. Due to general aviation costs, most of these trips have become a great hobby adventure that is fueled by my passion for flying. It also serves as a great emergency backup for the commute to work. If you’re supper wealthy, God bless you and have at it, but try to keep in mind that for most of the general aviation enthusiasts at those general aviation airports across the country, the passion and fun of flying is quickly getting out of financial reach and becoming only a dream, passion and memory of the past.

No Avatar
Harrison Krenitsky
on August 2, 2012 - 9:51pm

As both an airline pilot and owner of a Seneca II, I can only say, "if you’ve got the money to spare go by private air." For me, a 200 nautical mile trip seems to be a cross over point for time savings. To be cost effective, that same trip must be flown with four people. Due to general aviation costs, most of these trips have become a great hobby adventure that is fueled by my passion for flying. It also serves as a great emergency backup for the commute to work. If you’re supper wealthy, God bless you and have at it, but try to keep in mind that for most of the general aviation enthusiasts at those general aviation airports across the country, the passion and fun of flying is quickly getting out of financial reach and becoming only a dream, passion and memory of the past.

No Avatar
Dennis Boykin
on August 2, 2012 - 10:30pm

In fairness, there are times when airlines are better, and times when GA is better. Many factors impact the decision.

Airlines are better when: A) you're going to a major hub city from a major hub city, and the fares are competitive, and the flights are plentiful, B) you're flying more than 600-1,000 miles and your option is a fixed-gear single or a fast twin, or C) in the wintertime, when Old Man Icing comes to visit. Even with boots and hot props, you know you don't want to be there and you'd prefer to let the professionals handle him with bleed air.

General Aviation is better when: A) you're going somewhere other than the areas served by the 65 hub airports in the U.S., which is one heck of a lot of places, B) you're going on vacation to the Bahamas, Martha's Vineyard, or Santa Catalina Island, and you can't get there any other way conveniently, or C) you're going somewhere that you can reach in 4-6 hours with your plane, because you know you'll spend more time than that on ANY commercial flight (counting security, parking, and baggage), or D) as a previous poster mentioned, you're taking your kid to college and she needs her bike, TV, clothes for an entire semester, two computers, a monitor, etc, etc, etc....(hey, the back seats come out on my Comanche, OK?)

Driving is better when: NEVER, in my book !

I have a chart in my office showing ranges - I figure that if I'm traveling on business ANYWHERE on the East Coast (from my base near D.C.) or out to the Mississippi, I'll consider GA first. If I'm going beyond Boston or Daytona on the coast, farther west than St. Louis, going anywhere near a big field with good airline schedules, or traveling in bad weather, I'll get on Priceline and get a good fare.

No Avatar
rusthead1@zoominternet.net
on August 2, 2012 - 11:33pm

As both an airline pilot and owner of a Seneca II, I can only say, "if you’ve got the money to spare go by private air." For me, a 200 nautical mile trip seems to be a cross over point for time savings. To be cost effective, that same trip must be flown with four people. Due to general aviation costs, most of these trips have become a great hobby adventure that is fueled by my passion for flying. It also serves as a great emergency backup for the commute to work. If you’re supper wealthy, God bless you and have at it, but try to keep in mind that for most of the general aviation enthusiasts at those general aviation airports across the country, the passion and fun of flying is quickly getting out of financial reach and becoming only a dream, passion and memory of the past.

No Avatar
Cactus
on August 2, 2012 - 11:58pm

As you get older, you apprecitate the value of time.

You don't have to travel 300 miles to experience the value of GA versus car, especially if you're in a congested corridor like the Washington I-95 corridor.

Not only does GA save you time, it gives you flexibility.

I regularly travel to DC for meeting from the Tidewater area. At best a 3 hour drive with no traffice and fudging on the speed. If your meeting ends after 2 PM, forget leaving DC until traffic dies down (around) 7:30 PM. Your 3+ hour drive just became a 5 - 6 hour drive, with you sitting on I-95 with 50,000 of your new closest friends. Oh and did I mention the most likely delay at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel?

Instead, I hope on the metro, go to College Park (KCGS), and in less than 2 hours are door to door, hanging out at home.

Hmmm, flexibility and saving time?

Cost? Flying = 20 gallons round trip @ $5.50/gallon ($55) versus Driving = 14.5 gallons @ $3.70/gallon ($53.65).

OK, I do have to pay metro fee, but no parking fee...

Call me crazy, but flying can be more "affordable."

No Avatar
dkmanuel
on August 3, 2012 - 6:02am

I agree with the majority of observations, especially for last minute flights under 1000NM. I had a weird reaction when I was pitching these benefits to a couple of co-workers. Their reaction was (irrational?) that rather than see the benefit, they became confrontational and started to use the rhetoric demonstrated by the "occupy movement". I surely hope others do not encounter this 'pull people down to the lowest common denominator' attitude.

No Avatar
Joe Z
on August 3, 2012 - 9:09am

Seneca driver.....you have too many fans pulling one person through the air....figure on one fan and the cost changes drastically.

No Avatar
Dave_D
on August 3, 2012 - 10:21am

All this time saved presumes that you can even fly! Unfortunately, WEATHER often has different plans for you! I love to fly as much as the next guy, and when the weather is good, it can be a delightful experience. However, I have no interest in occupying a smoking hole, or landing my plane in pieces, directly down. I've had my share of scares with lines of thunderstorms, or icing. (Did you know that a Cessna 172 can almost carry 1" of ice? But your cruise speed is 120, and your stall speed is 119.8.) The occasional long delays sitting in some dull, boring pilot's lounge while waiting for that line of tornado-filled clouds to go away, or that 200 mile thick line of snow and blizzards can more than cancel out the time you have saved during the actual trip. So, I am a realist. SOMETIMES my plane works for me, but there are other times when my car works much better!

No Avatar
Joe Z
on August 3, 2012 - 11:05am

I have been flying private pilot since 1969 and over 5,000 hours. I would guess in all those years, maybe 25 times I got weathered in or couldn't get through a line of thunderstorms. So if you are a VFR pilot flying a C150 Cessna on a 500 plus trip, during the summer, in the southeast, you may have a greater chance of being weathered in. BUT.....I always say....."I would rather be down here wishing I was up there, than being up there wishing I was down here" Fly safely. That aluminum spam can doesn't make a very good coffin.

No Avatar
Albert Beckwith
on August 8, 2012 - 5:22pm

My experience over 12 years was as a Manufacuring Manager with a responsibility for 5 manfacturing Plants.

It started when I became a Private Pilot,purchased a Cesssa 172 Skyhawk and travelled from Ohio to Arkansas and back to OHIO. As the company grew my trips changed which required faster aircraft with long range tanks. I moved up to a Cessna 182, then a 210 then a used twin engine Cessna 310 and finally to a new Cessna 310.
The monthly trips were Ohio - Georgia - Arkansas - Texas - Colorado - and back to Ohio. We left Ohio after lunch and returned back in OH on Fiday evening

My staff was home with their families and our policy of one to one, face to face with the operating personnel at each plant provided higher quality and improved productivity.
Upper Management appreciated the results.I flew approximitly 9,000 hrs in 12 years with a company that was profitable with sales growing from one million (Year 1)in sales to 20 million.

Do What you Love to do. The net result is is pleasure in your job and longevity in your Life. I am now 84 and still Flying.

No Avatar
Anonymous
on September 26, 2014 - 4:39pm

Great suggestions! I would like to include some safety tips. Complete a mock test flight to ensure that you are ready. Browse through the PTS and get maximum details. Have a reliable source to get consistent weather updates. Happy flying!

Add your comment:

By submitting a comment, you are allowing AIN Publications to edit and use your comment in all media.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
 

Quote/Unquote

“You’re absolutely right—and you can’t stand up in your [expletive] Rolls-Royce, either.”

-William Lear, in the early '60s, replying to a man who complained that he couldn't stand up in the original Lear Jet