Fly the Chartered Skies
By Dee Dee White, Professional Meeting Planner
Group travel has never been an easy puzzle to put together, but in recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult. I coordinate an annual performance reward trip for a client’s group that averages 150 people, all traveling from the same airport.
Gone are the days when I could reserve airline space and get a party this size to their destination in just two groups. Less lift and smaller aircraft render current air logistics a nightmare. For their May 2011 trip, I was faced with using a minimum of five different flight schedules to accommodate the group. To compound the problem, not all travelers would have the same travel experience. Long layovers, painfully early departures, and multiple connections were involved, so everyone would not be affected equally. Those elements can result in a terrible first impression of what is otherwise a great adventure.
Considering the ever-present possibility of flight cancellations and the problems associated with finding alternative flights for so many passengers at the last minute, a whole list of additional problems could come to light.
For those reasons, I decided to investigate a charter flight. Having researched such flights before, I knew they could be costly, but charter flights also provide great value to the group.
- Each member of the group has the same travel experience.
- The security process is much less complicated because many charter flights depart from Fixed-Base Operations (FBO) instead of commercial airports.
- Required preflight arrival time is much shorter at an FBO than at an airport.
- There are no luggage fees.
- Some in-flight service includes hot meals and drinks at no additional charge.
- Travel time is cut by more than 50% compared to commercial air schedules.
- There is no waiting for luggage in baggage claim when using an FBO.
The price per person was a bit higher, but our client looked at the whole picture, determined it was well worth the slight increase, and chose to use a charter flight. To say the trip began and ended on a great note is an understatement. The lack of travel hassles, the fun of traveling together, and the time saved made this experience one the participants will remember forever. The goodwill extended by the host company in providing the extra value of a charter flight is destined to be returned one hundred fold by the renewed motivation of the employees to make the grade for the next trip.
There are many considerations when group travel hits your radar. Whether your group is large or small, Covington Meetings & Events is ready to help you navigate the details and make the best choices for your time and money.