Saturday, December 24, 2011

Markets In Everything: Cheap Seats on Charters

The Tennessean --  "If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly on those fancy private aircraft that rich people use for getaways such as skiing or beach weekends, a new Web-based company in Smyrna, Tennessee aims to put you in the jet set — at prices that rival those of regular airline seats. SocialFlights.com allows individuals to book vacant seats on private charter airplanes via the Web and ride point-to-point, avoiding layovers, plane changes and even those long security lines.

Nationwide, more than 91 private air-charter firms, which operate 627 private aircraft with 30 seats or fewer, have already signed up to offer their empty seats to Social Flights users, said Jay Deragon, chief executive officer and a co-founder of Social Flights. More than 12,500 people have registered to use the service.

 “We’re essentially using social networking to fill vacant seats on private aircraft that go all over the place every day, often with nobody on board,” he said. “A company or group might charter a jet to take them to California, but then that plane flies back empty. With Social Flights, people can buy individual seats on the return trip, giving the charter company revenue it wouldn’t have had.”

On these charter flights, passengers don’t have to go through metal detectors or X-ray machines. Their names are run through the TSA’s no-fly list, however, so any suspected terrorists would not be able to board the planes. Deragon says "You can just show up 15 minutes before your flight and walk right on." 

Besides vacant seats on planes that are already scheduled for trips, Social Flights offers users the ability to bring enough people together for a particular date and destination to be able to charter an aircraft at per-person rates that often are much less than a first-class seat on an airline."

14 Comments:

At 12/24/2011 6:07 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Michael O'Learys talk at the "Innovation Convention 2011" in Brussels is not to be missed.

 
At 12/24/2011 7:07 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

I have often used a similar method to book a bunk on private sailing yachts. Unlike a charter flight, on the yacht one may be expected to steer and cook.

 
At 12/24/2011 11:15 PM, Blogger cluemeister said...

I assume these are one way. Do you hope a return flight is available? Or do you fly commercial on the return?

 
At 12/24/2011 11:15 PM, Blogger cluemeister said...

I assume these are one way. Do you hope a return flight is available? Or do you fly commercial on the return?

 
At 12/25/2011 1:21 AM, Blogger randian said...

charter an aircraft at per-person rates that often are much less than a first-class seat on an airline

I find that unlikely. They must be talking about refundable next-day international fares (which almost nobody actually pays), because I've never seen private charters come anywhere close to the prices for non-refundable advance purchase fares. From what I can tell charters and services like NetJets are an easy $10k and up round trip, while you can often buy paid first class on a major carrier for well under $2k.

 
At 12/25/2011 1:33 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

This will become more likely if the eclipse jet reaches its potential.

 
At 12/26/2011 8:47 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"I find that unlikely"...

Why do you find it unlikely radian?

Using charter service one doesn't necessarily need a jet, land at a major airport, or pay for security and costly landing and takeoff fees...

For the cost of a $138 round trip ten of us last January flew from a small local airport near St. Louis, Mo up to Cheeryland airport in Door county Wisconsin (500 miles or so) at the time of our choosing and we didin't lose one piece of luggage...

In addition we were served a hot meal and cocktails and all this was on a Cessna Caravan 675, a much more comfortable ride than one gets on the scheduled carriers...

 
At 12/26/2011 9:21 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

A caravan is a lot noisier than the big jets, but it is a duration le and versatile aircraft.

After the demise of the 19 passenger twin engine commuted planes we saw an opening for ultra short commuter flights - up to 250 moles from the major airports. Our model was to be like a giant long range parking shuttle. Park at your local airport, probably for free, clear security with ten other people, and fly to a hub airport. If your trip was more than three days the difference in parking would cover your airfare.

We had some investors signed up, but the plan was cancelled after 9-11.

The experience of juandos is probably typical, and the eclipse
jet will mean you could make longer trips in a six passenger 450 knot airplane, above the weather.

A key part of this is FAA completion of the NEXTGEN air traffic system which will enable direct point to point routing for all flights.

Sometimes government helps. Then again, a major hindrance for charters is that the rules do not permit them to advertise prices. Sometimes govt hurts.

 
At 12/26/2011 11:30 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"After the demise of the 19 passenger twin engine commuted planes...

What are you talking about hydra?

Twin turbo and jet prop commuters fly scheduled service in and out of Lambert field everyday...

And regarding the supposed noise in the Caravan 675, well I've taken two round trips in them over the last eighteen months and that is something I've missed...

Could it be that one can order that particular aircraft from Cesna with more noise insulation than what is normally installed?

 
At 12/26/2011 12:59 PM, Blogger randian said...

Why do you find it unlikely randian?

1) I thought we were talking jets. Props are fine for very short hops, but not much else. Short range, frequent fuel stops, and low cruising speed hamper them immensely.
2) I don't normally travel with 10 people. Unlike the major carriers, you can expect the per-seat cost for a charter to go way, way up if you aren't filling the whole plane. Basically, you'll almost never get to pay the cheap price.
3) Look at the prices for existing charter services. Several times what you'd pay for first class on a major airline. What's going to make them cheaper?

 
At 12/26/2011 2:23 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Props are fine for very short hops, but not much else"...

Really?

Well if we had try to go Door County via scheduled airlines total travel time (including wait time for connecting flight) it would've cost us some six plus hours of time and almost $400 apiece...

Instead we spent a little over two and a half hours going 500 miles and we ended up at the airport we wanted instead of Sturgeon Bay which would've out of the way...

 
At 12/27/2011 7:33 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/27/2011 7:37 AM, Blogger Zachriel said...

OFF-TOPIC

What happened to the thread on Markets in Everything: Solar Paint?
http://tinyurl.com/75nn4aw

 
At 12/27/2011 8:43 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Sorry, the post on solar paint got hidden by mistake, it's back now.

 

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