Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Smaller, local airports to serve passengers on new ImagineAir flights

Pilot and ImagineAir CEO Ben Hamilton poses with one of the Cirrus SR22 aircraft being used for the new on-demand private flights from closeby airports.

Road warriors and others who fly frequently are well aware of the problems and delays that can cause flights to be delayed or canceled.

It’s almost impossible these days to commit to an arrival time by commercial flight.

A one- to two-hour flight can easily consume a half day once the mandates of advance check-in, luggage handling and security checks are balanced along with weather, equipment of other vagaries of the increasingly difficult formula for flying.

That’s where pilot Ben Hamilton steps up to the plate with ImagineAir, a service that puts smaller three-passenger jet aircraft at the disposal of travelers and takes them to their destinations from close-to-home airports.

“We bring the plane to you,” he said. “We can pick you up and drop you off at almost any airport.”

He sees ImagineAir as giving travelers their day back and getting them back home in time for dinner.

Instead of having to deal with a 40-minute drive to Cleveland Hopkins International, his local customers might choose to fly from Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby, Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights or Burke Lakefront Airport near downtown Cleveland.

“In many cases, you can save even more time by driving drive directly to your aircraft,” he said. “You deal with no TSA checkpoints, lost luggage issues or layovers.”

You rent the entire plane and can take two others along, so the arrangements may be ideal for business meetings, golf outings and small group forays. ImagineAir specializes in short hops such as flights to places such as Columbus, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Buffalo, which can be even more problematic than longer journeys. Although those flights may take just an hour or so to complete, passengers still need to accommodate check-in time that’s more time-consuming than the flight itself.

Booking and fares are subject to supply and demand, but flights can often cost close to what they would aboard a commercial flight.

“Fares are dynamic,” Hamilton said.

They’re done online to keep costs low, although the staff can help figure out options that might save even more time and money.

Travelers to New York City, for instance, might get shut out on flights to John F. Kennedy or LaGuardia but can more easily reach the city through smaller nearby airports such an Farmingdale, he said.

“Flights often can be booked just a day or two in advance and cost about $1,500,” Hamilton said. That’s for the entire plane with three passengers

He said 85 percent of travelers live close to a smaller airport, but few are able to factor in and arrival or departure from there.

This is what he is trying to change.

“Our flights are ideal for doctors, lawyers and other professional people as well as for politicians and rock bands,” he said.

They also seemingly would be an viable option for family or business emergencies as well as impromptu beach getaways and concerts.

Frequent travelers can buy in with two different levels of membership and get either a 7 percent discount or 15 percent discount on their flights.

Hamilton likens the experience of flying aboard one of the company’s Cirrus SR22-GTS aircraft as similar to sitting in a midsize luxury sedan but cruising at 200 mph.

He’s a licensed pilot with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master of business administration degree from Emory University in Atlanta.

Prior to his affiliation with ImagineAir, Hamilton was president of Georgia Tech’s 200-member Yellow Jacket Flying Club and served as a flight instructor for students, faculty and alumni. Co-founder of ImagineAir, Hamilton has served as the company’s director of operations and CEO.

Original article can be found here:

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