Monday, June 30, 2014

Those Who Can Afford It Have a Better Way to Fly

We are on the cusp of the Fourth of July weekend, when the fun really begins in air travel, as summer crowds push into already packed planes, challenging the laws of both physics and good manners.

There are, of course, other options. But they will cost you.

“I absolutely hate flying commercial,” a Florida businessman, Vincent M. Wolanin, said on Friday as he braced himself for a trip that day from Fort Myers to Albany. “To me, an airplane is basically a bus with wings now.”

Usually, Mr. Wolanin is one of those lucky fliers with an alternative — a private plane, in his case a Gulfstream G-2SP. Actually, it’s a sign of renewed growth in the private jet industry that he had to take a commercial flight at all.

He said his own plane was waiting to be serviced by mechanics at PrivateSky Aviation Services, where he is the chairman and founder. The company maintains and refurbishes Gulfstream aircraft and provides other private aviation services in Fort Myers. “I got airplanes stacked outside, and the customer comes first,” he said, referring to the queue of used Gulfstreams from all over the world that the company was working on.

Mr. Wolanin looks on the bright side when he travels by commercial airline. “I welcome having a miserable experience, because every bit of abuse the airlines do helps me in my business,” he said. “The decline in service on airlines is the best thing that ever happened to private aviation.”

The obvious advantages for those fortunate enough to be able to fly private include far higher levels of comfort and efficiency.

As commercial airlines cut routes and service, the argument for private flying becomes stronger — at least for those who can afford it. A trip that might take all day with multiple connections on a commercial flight could take only hours on a private jet, though of course at a higher cost. And most private flights, which typically depart from general aviation airports, do not require their passengers to pass through the T.S.A. security checkpoints.

“The business is swinging back again,” Jeff Burger, the editor of Business Jet Traveler, a glossy trade magazine for the industry, said of a slow recovery in the private market.

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