Sunday, September 25, 2016

Membership-based airline expands service to and from Truckee Tahoe Airport

According to Google, the drive from San Francisco to Truckee is about four hours. But anyone who’s ever tried to get into Truckee on a Friday after work, or out of the Bay Area for that matter, will tell you that traffic can add hours and a lot of stress onto the drive.

You could fly, but connecting flights can take up to the same amount of time as driving, and that’s without the added time waiting to go through airport security.

Enter SurfAir, a company whose founders must have thought, “There’s got to be a better way.” Now, after three years of business, the customer experience remains a top priority.

“We’re ultimately giving time to our members,” said SurfAir CEO Jeff Potter.

SurfAir is kind of like the Netflix of air travel — if Netflix offered to hand-deliver movies and park your car for you.

For a monthly fee of $1,950, SurfAir members can fly an unlimited number of trips between the company’s 13 destinations. Currently, they fly to 12 locations throughout California and also to Las Vegas. Starting this winter, their service will also include trips to Europe.

“This is a shared use model, so there are other members on the aircraft at the same time,” said Potter. “One of the benefits is members get to interact with each other.”

Members also meet the concierge and pilot before taking off, which adds to the customized experience SurfAir has built its reputation on.

And though the company was initially founded with business travel in mind, Potter said he’s noticed a trend over the last few years.

“What we’ve seen over the years, over the winter and summer, is a leisure aspect to our business,” said Potter. “People like to fly to Truckee during the week and on the weekends.”

SurfAir began offering flights to Truckee in 2014, and have grown significantly since then.

“We started out just flying from San Carlos to Truckee,” said Potter. SurfAir now offers flights from three Bay Area locations to Truckee.

And though Truckee-Tahoe service began as seven roundtrip flights a week from the Bay, the company now offers 20 weekly round trips as well as an additional summer offering of five weekend round trips—and that’s just between the Bay Area and Truckee.

SurfAir has increased its number of planes from three to 12 since the business started, and their membership base has grown from 150 members to more than 3,000.

Potter said that Truckee is a successful yet unique market for the company. That’s because while SurfAir’s membership base consists of a lot of professionals who travel for work, those who fly into Truckee are also interested in taking trips for leisure.

He said that about half of the company’s business comes from corporate memberships, and that those agreements are tailor-made to fit the other company’s travel needs.

“So many companies have different needs,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that we can customize.”


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