Hassle-Free Airlines: Alternatives to Flying as a Passenger on Commercial Airlines?

he year 2015 is here; and it may have ushered in an era where it might be even more difficult for you to earn frequent flier loyalty program miles and retain status — enough so that when combined with higher airfares, crowds, rude people and the inconsistency of security checkpoints at airports, you have probably set a resolution for the new year and vowed to extricate yourself from your persistent dedication and loyalty to your favorite airline.

You might even be wary and weary of traveling via commercial airlines altogether.

Although there are some supposed technologies possibly in the works for the future — but not the immediate future — you might be wondering if you have options other than traveling by private vehicle, bus, train or ship.

In addition to this list of hassle-free airlines on which I first reported in this article back on Monday, August 26, 2013 pertaining to traveling with reduced hassles, this article written by Julien Bortz of FlyMiler and posted only a few days ago reports of another option where you supposedly can fly on a private jet aircraft for as little as $77.00 per person.

The airlines — which will be covered in more depth in this article — offer viable alternatives to commercial air travel; and there seems to be more and more of them appearing.

Advantages to flying on these airlines typically include:

  • Not having to pass through a security checkpoint — meaning that you can arrive later for your flight and board the airplane within mere minutes
  • Travel between smaller airports, which could mean greater flexibility of routes, free parking, and flights which have a better chance of departing and arriving on time
  • More flight options if the airline is flexible with its flight schedule
  • The airports may be located closer to your origination or final destination
  • Fewer people means a more “private” experience

 

Disadvantages to flying on these airlines typically include:

  • Smaller airports could mean fewer services available — such as rental car facilities and restaurants
  • The airports could be located farther from your origination or final destination
  • Long-haul flights are generally not possible
  • Increased chances of cancelled or delayed flights due to inclement weather, as smaller airplanes are used
  • Fewer flight options if the airline is not flexible with its flight schedule
  • Cost — especially when a special deal is not available — which includes fees such as for wait time

 

Let us cover several airlines a little more in depth in no particular order — and hover your cursor over subheads as well as the bold words for possible links:

JetSuite

18952 MacArthur Boulevard
Suite 200
Irvine, California 92612
1-866-779-7770

JetSuite claims to have saved greater than $284,000,000.00. I am not sure on what this number is based.

Membership is based on how much you pay in advance; and that payment cannot be refunded. There are four tiers of SuiteKey membership ranging from a payment of $50,000.00 to $400,000.00 in advance, which does not include a federal excise tax of 7.5 percent; and flight hour rates become less expensive with each higher tier of membership. Certain fees may also be waived depending on level of membership.

Destinations are flexible and varied within the United States — except for Hawaii — and portions of Canada. If you are not a SuiteKey member, you can fly one-way from Miami to Anchorage for as little as $51,042.90, which includes all taxes and fees.

Fleet Embraer Phenom 100 aircraft with a maximum speed of 450 miles per hour, an operating ceiling of 41,000 feet, complimentary Wi-Fi service, an interior cabin which can seat four passengers comfortably, and the largest baggage compartment in its category; and Citation CJ3 aircraft with a maximum speed of 480 miles per hour, an operating ceiling of 45,000 feet, and an interior cabin which can seat four passengers comfortably plus an additional seventh sideways facing seat.

Affiliations Singapore Airlines and Fandeavor, which is a gameday experience company focusing on giving fans the absolute best experience for their favorite sporting events.

Deals and Specials Known as SuiteDeals, they are offered daily.

Southern Airways Express

One Commerce Square
21st Floor
P.O. Box 3088
Memphis, Tennessee 38173
1-800-329-0485

Parking at the airports Southern Airways Express serves is free of charge for up to a maximum of 14 days. Some airports may charge a monthly fee for greater than 14 days. There is no limit on the number of bags which you may check; and there are no baggage fees — but each passenger is limited to a total aggregate weight of 50 pounds of baggage.

Membership None.

Destinations are small airports which serve these cities located in six states in the southern United States: Memphis, Atlanta, Panama City, Chattanooga, Jackson, Knoxville, Oxford, New Orleans, Destin and Birmingham. Airplanes can be chartered anywhere within 500 miles of the airports served by Southern Airways Express.

Fleet Cessna 208 Caravan airplanes and 208B Grand Caravan airplanes. All aircraft are outfitted with nine luxury leather passenger seats, a Bose or Sony headset for each passenger, and space in the cabin for one personal item, such as a briefcase of purse. The airplanes are powered by 675-horsepower PT-6 turbine engines — supposedly one of the most reliable engines in service throughout the world. No Internet access is available aboard airplanes during flight.

Affiliations None.

Deals and Specials are either offered here or on the main “page” of the official Internet web site of Southern Airways Express.

Surf Airlines

1408 Third Street Promenade
Suite 300
Santa Monica, California 90401
1-888-704-2582

Parking at the airports Surf Airlines serves is free of charge. There is no limit on the number of bags which you may check; and there are no baggage fees — but each passenger is limited to a total aggregate weight of 30 pounds of baggage. There are no fees for changing flights.

Membership starts at $1,750.00 per month with two flight passes which can be used again and again. There is a one-time initiation fee of $1,000.00. Fly as much as you like as a passenger aboard airplanes operated by Surf Airlines for a monthly fee. Passes may be purchased for your guests for $650.00 each. There is a wait list to join as a member, however.

Destinations are small airports which serve these cities located primarily in California and Nevada: Burbank, Hawthorne, San Carlos, Santa Barbara, Truckee, Oakland, Carlsbad and Las Vegas. Twelve new destinations — including one in Arizona — are planned for the future.

Fleet Pilatus PC-12 airplanes, which seat seven passengers comfortably in leather seats in an executive interior designed by BMW. No Internet access is available aboard airplanes during flight.

Affiliations None.

Deals and Specials None.

SeaPort Airlines

7505 NE Airport Way
Portland, Oregon 97218
1-888-573-2767

Parking fees — if any — at the airports SeaPort Airlines serves varies. Passengers with FullFlex fares are allowed two checked bags, up to 50 pounds each, free of charge. All other fares and flights to and from all destinations have a free baggage allowance of one checked bag up to 50 pounds per person and not exceeding 62 linear inches in size, plus a carry-on of one personal item. Additional information pertaining to fees is found here. A short article pertaining to SeaPort Airlines was first posted here at The Gate back on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

Membership None.

Destinations are a fractured network of small airports which serve these cities located primarily in ten states in the United States: Muscle Shoals in Alabama; Tupelo and Greenville in Mississippi; Memphis, Jackson and Nashville in Tennessee; El Dorado, Hot Springs and Harrison in Arkansas; Kansas City in Missouri; Salina and Great Bend in Kansas; Dallas in Texas; North Bend, Portland and Pendleton in Oregon; Imperial/El Centro, Burbank and San Diego in California; Juneau, Hoonah, Gustavus, Haines and Skagway in Alaska. San Felipe in Baja California Norte in Mexico is a future destination currently subject to government approval. Airplanes may be chartered starting at $1,000.00 per flight hour pending availability of pilots and aircraft, which does not include a federal excise tax of 7.5 percent and fees such as a Federal Segment Fee, wait charges, and a short leg fee for flights whose duration is fewer than 60 minutes.

Fleet Cessna 208 Caravan turboprop aircraft; and Cessna 207 airplanes are in use for flights in southeastern Alaska.

Affiliations There are supposedly many more destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico served by “partner airlines”; but I have been unable at this time to find additional information on who are those partners.

Deals and Specials are offered — such as on new flights for a limited time.

ImagineAir

460 Briscoe Boulevard
Suite 210
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046
1-877-359-4242

ImagineAir bills itself as the largest air taxi service in the United States and prides itself on providing the lowest fares in on-demand aviation. Amongst the limitations of this airline is that customers will be provided a with a maximum weight limit which applies to the total weight of all passengers and baggage.

 Let us worry about those details!

For comparison purposes, ImagineAir’s equivalent hourly rate varies from $400 to $900 per hour inside our service area – the East Coast – and higher rates outside of our service area. The exact price is dependent upon your exact city pairs and departure times. Unlike traditional aircraft charter, these equivalent rates only apply to your route of flight, and we do not charge any repositioning fees. Additionally, this price is for the entire aircraft, which seats up to 3 passengers.

Membership is based on how much you pay in advance; and that payment cannot be refunded. There are four tiers of the FlightCard Savings Program ranging from a payment of $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 in advance — it is unclear as to whether or not that includes a federal excise tax of 7.5 percent — and flight hour rates become less expensive with each higher tier of membership. Certain fees may also be waived depending on level of membership. ImagineAir does not charge an hourly use for our aircraft – instead, you only pay an up-front rate for your particular flight, regardless of where your aircraft originates. For comparison purposes, the equivalent rate varies from $400.00 to $900.00 per hour inside its service area of the east coast of the United States; and higher rates outside of its service area. The exact price is dependent upon your exact city pairs and departure times. Unlike traditional aircraft charters, these equivalent rates only apply to your route of flight, and ImagineAir do not charge any repositioning fees. Additionally, this price is for the entire aircraft, which seats up to a maximum of three passengers.

Destinations are flexible and varied at greater than 1,000 airports within 22 states in the eastern United States.

Fleet Cirrus SR-22 airplanes equipped with leather-appointed interiors, ergonomic seating, air conditioning, XM Radio, Bose noise-cancelling headsets and electrical outlets at each seat.

Affiliations None.

Deals and Specials There are three ways to save money: the aforementioned FlightCards, where you can save up to 20 percent on your airfare; ImagineFares, where you are rewarded for your creativity pertaining to efficiency; and Empty Legs, on which you can stand by for a flight where a seat would otherwise go empty.

Summary

The services provided by these airlines have their limitations and can be a drain on your wallet or pocketbook, as they are not meant for the masses of passengers currently using commercial aviation for flights — but they can be a potentially viable alternative for the frequent flier who is fed up with the hassles, inconveniences and costs of commercial aviation and frequent flier loyalty programs. This all depends on an analysis of cost, schedules, airports served and conveniences as to whether or not hassle-free airlines are a better choice for you than commercial airlines.

If there are any airlines which I have missed, please let me know and I will add them to this article at a future date.

2 thoughts on “Hassle-Free Airlines: Alternatives to Flying as a Passenger on Commercial Airlines?”

  1. Clynt Taylor says:

    Good list, but don’t forget Rise, Private-flight Sharing in Texas. Now serving Dallas, Houston, Austin and Midland. Expanding soon to San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Northwest Arkansas and more. Fly unlimited for just $1,650 per month.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There are admittedly many airlines missing from that list, Clynt Taylor — and I do not mind providing the free advertising as long as it is helpful to readers of The Gate.

      In fact, someone with an airline based in Las Vegas called Jet Charter Las Vegas contacted me; and I need to contact him and add his airline to the list.

      Thank you for the reminder, Clynt Taylor — and I wish you all the best on your expansion of Rise.

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