Fuel costs are up 30%
206 million people will fly this summer (up 1.5%)
The average cost of a flight was $340 last year. $375 this year.” —http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2011/05/US-airline-group-15-rise-in-summer-travel/47248448/1
One of the advantages in flying small planes is that we avoid “batch work.” Batch work is where any process gets stuck waiting for “enough pieces” (a batch) before moving on to the next step.
The big airlines have to fill huge planes, so they can only fly between any two cities a couple times a day.
We don’t have that problem. Because our flights our full with only 9 passengers - we can take off and land dozens of times a day in each city, if the demand is there. It means we are better able to “scale” our service to how often you want to fly.
I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “Hitch” where Will Smith is teaching Kevin James to dance. He puts his arms at his side, with the elbows bent and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. Will says, “This is home for you. I don’t wanna see any of this [crazy exaggerated dance move].”
For us “home” is a 2-4 hour drive from your point of origin. So, if you’re in D.C. - we can fly you to New York, or Philadelphia. But not Minneapolis, or Dallas.
See, the big airlines standardized on huge aircraft ages ago. They want to fly you from New York to LA or London. They use massive engines to go long distances, and have to put a ton of people on board to break even. But going short distances, those engines don’t deliver any advantage. When you take off from D.C. it’s about a 30 minute flight to Philadelphia. That means you’re climbing, climbing, and then landing. You’re never really flying at a “cruising altitude.” As a result - a smaller plane is actually more efficient, which means good things for the planet - but it also means that we can charge less.
It is not our intent to fly people across the country, and people who sign up need to know that. We won’t be all things to all people. We won’t be the best option for some travelers. We know that.
But, what we do - we’ll do very, very well. We’ll get you 2-4 hours (by car) from home faster than anyone else, and at less cost.
So, San Fran to LA? Yes. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio? Yes. Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago? Yes.
New York to LA? No. Seattle to Miami? Unfortunately, no. That’s not our model.
We want to make flying simple. So, everything we do is designed to simplify how we fly - from booking to boarding to landing.
It just shouldn’t be that hard to get you from point A to point B. A city bus can do it with half the hassle. So - we’re aiming to be that…a city bus that takes you from city to city, and expands what “local” means to you.
If you think of a way that we can make your flight experience easier - tell us! We don’t have all the answers.
We are set up to have our first route run from DC to NYC with stops in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
But - since we opened our website for email registration we’ve seen a ton of interest in a San Fran, LA, Las Vegas run…interest that right now exceeds demand for DC to NY - thought it’s the second most sought after route. The California run would probably stop on Fresno as well, because it’s on the way.
Our intention is to prove our model for a couple months, and then look to aggressively expand (an idea that will likely cost more money than we’ll be able to fund without taking on more investment). So, we take very seriously the suggestions folks are making on facebook, via email, and on twitter. And - the number of folks who have registered an interest in our airline in any specific city will determine where we’ll fly out of first, and where to.
We’re still hammering out the details on this one. It’s why we haven’t asked for anyone’s credit cards yet. But, the idea is the following: One low rate for everyone.
We don’t think that anyone is a second class passenger, and so we won’t be giving one group of people better service and sticking it to our other passengers. Instead, we’ll give top level service to everyone. Because flying shouldn’t suck.
We’d like to get subscriptions down to $150 a month. In fact, we’re guaranteeing that rate to some early subscribers, and the top PlaneRed.com referrers.
But, if at that rate we just can’t put enough planes in the sky to meet demand - we’ll have to charge a little more on the subscription - or add a small $25 cost for each flight. (We know - that ruins the ‘all you can fly’ but we’ve had several folks make passionate cases for doing so.) What do you think? Which would be better $250 a month, or $150 a month, and $25 per flight?
There are approximately 22,000 airports in the US. Only 490 require TSA. TSA is actually required for entry into what is called a “sterile area.”
We just skip that. Many airports offer both sterile and “unsanitized” areas. At those airports, we’ll fly into the TSA-less portion. At some, like (we’ve been told) Washington Reagan’s DCA all passengers must use a sterile space. So - we won’t fly there.
But - since we are flying much smaller planes than most airlines - we don’t need huge airports with long waitlines, and parking issues.
Instead of flying into DCA - we’ll fly into VKX, or “Potomac Airfield.” It’s located just behind the National Harbor, in Washington D.C. and a cab ride from Potomac Airfield is just as close to downtown Washington, D.C. as one from Reagan National.
It’s a simple innovation - but one we’re proud of.
We’ve been getting lots of questions about what we do, and how we’ll do it. We’ll use this blog to answer some of those questions.