How Wealthy Passengers Choose To Fly: Part 1 – Time And Control
- Erika Armstrong
There is a tipping point. In that moment, when a passenger with a strong financial portfolio makes the decision to buy, charter, join a membership, or fraction of a corporate aircraft, there are factors to push that decision, and they aren’t always obvious. When a passenger has the power to captain how they travel, there is a hierarchy of needs that need to be met, but beyond that, the variables are every flight department’s challenge.
With the competition of capitalism, there are now options within the circle of each set price range that drive decisions. In a recent Jet Traveler Report¹, it was determined that there are five basic characteristics of motivation that influence how wealthy passengers chose to fly and which method(s) of flying would best fit that perspective: time, control, safety, confidentiality, and value.
Let's take a look at the time and control aspects.
From their perspective, saving time is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Even if the aircraft is to be used for leisure, being able to maximize this time is important to this level of passenger. To be a top producer in whatever industry their business is, the ultimate flexibility of having a jet ready on short notice wins the battle. It's part of their business plan and it's worth the price.
Their Perspective Leads To This Choice: Ownership best fits the needs of this flier. It is the most time-efficient and flexible scenario; however, with the increase in options in recent years, these fliers are now being pulled in different directions by the choices of membership, fractional ownerships, and availability of on-demand charter. Lead time is still a factor and during peak travel, on-demand charter doesn't guarantee availability, but there are now broker companies that guarantee short call-out charter if price isn't an issue.
There are approximately 44,000 airports in the world, but only a fraction have commercial service. If you're in Florida and need to meet a client in northern Minnesota, with spoke and hub platform of the airlines, it could take three flights with layover time in between, and another six hours of driving to reach your client. An entire day of travel on both sides of the meeting, when a corporate jet could get you there in a few hours. There are also 14,112 private airports which only a private aircraft could use. Being in control of a destination, a schedule, and the amenities onboard drive these fliers away from commercial flights to business aviation.
Their Perspective Leads To This Choice: Ownership still rules, but membership, fractional ownership, and on‑demand charter are neck in neck at the finish line. Learning the quirks and preferences of clients is an artwork that many flight departments have mastered. These client's needs and services are tracked and flight departments bend over backwards to please. In comparison, these peripheral amenities are inexpensive but mean a lot to the client. In the same breath, if mistakes are made with these simple requests, clients can hold a grudge even if it is out of the flight department's control.
For every flight department, whether you are operating Part 91 or 135, it's important to remember that one passenger's request for Peach Snapple with seven ice cubes and a pickle is the next passenger's garbage. There are so many variables to their wants and needs that it's best not to guess. Ask, listen, and remember is the mantra to a success.
¹ The Jet Traveler Report 2018, "The Global Perspective on Who Flies Privately and How" (May 2018)