If you have siblings, I’m sure that you remember that familiar refrain from family road trips. The car would be packed, gassed up and ready to go, when as soon as mom or dad would grab the car keys, it was a race to be the first to yell “Shotgun!” as loud and fast as you could, hoping to ride in the front passenger seat. It was a rite of passage of sorts. If you were lucky enough to claim the most sought-after seat in the vehicle, you sat for the entire distance of the trip with pride. You felt like a co-pilot, and you were no doubt the envy of your siblings.
Such is how I envision the first officer of Virgin flight VS3 which departed Heathrow for New York on May 2nd, as he sat with pride in the cockpit until 40 minutes into the flight. When suddenly, in the same manner that your parents would turn the car around once they realized that you did not complete all of your chores, VS3 made a U-turn and headed back to the UK. Forty minutes into this New York bound flight was when, due to a “rostering error”, the plane and all passengers on board had to return to the UK. Apparently, the first officer of Virgin VS3 had never completed his internal “final flight assessment” and had to be removed from duty and replaced by another co-pilot. To be clear, both the captain and this first officer were highly qualified, and the passengers of the flight were never in any peril, but they were very inconvenienced by this rostering error.
This story serves as reason number (insert any sarcastically stated and ridiculously large number that you wish to make up, when you’ve stopped counting), why flyers have grown so frustrated with commercial airlines. We’ve gotten used to them making us pay more to wait longer and enjoy fewer amenities and now they can’t even get their internal record keeping right. This story also encapsulates, in two short paragraphs, why so many are turning to flying private and not looking back.
In private aviation, a situation like this is as unlikely to happen as finding Bigfoot sitting on your patio, drinking iced tea. Unlike commercial carriers, private airlines have a closer and more one-on-one relationship with their FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). And because of this local level relationship with the FAA, private carriers and their pilots are safeguarded by redundant systems and more watchful eyes. Further, and again unlike commercial airlines, private airlines know that a mistake like this could ground them for a period of time.
So, if you’re one of the frustrated masses, looking for an alternative and a better way to fly, head to your favorite app store and download the Flewber app. For those of you who are thinking that you can’t afford to fly private, give our Book, Bid and Share features a try. After seeing how easy it is to “Bid” your own budget or “Share” cost with friends and family (after all, with Flewber, you’re not booking individual seats, you’re booking the entire plane), you may be surprised how affordable flying private can be.