Author: Joe F.
Date of Trip: November 2005
We traveled from Connecticut to South Carolina by air for Thanksgiving. We traveled Wednesday, November 23 and returned midday Sunday, November 27.
We had no problems whatsoever. No problems with delays, security, crowded airports or cramped airplanes. The reason? We flew our own single engine airplane. We left when we wanted to, flew where we wanted to and took what food and drink we needed. We flew at about 10,000 feet in both directions.
While it was busy near the major cities and instrument weather conditions prevailed in the south on Sunday, training and use of the ATC system worked as it was supposed to and we made the trips safely and in less time that the airlines would have taken to fly the same routes.
The closest air carrier airports would have resulted in a 30-60 minute drive to a commercial airport, a 60-120 minute wait for the flights, a four hour 45 min travel time and then a 30-45 minute drive on the back end. Flying our own small airplane resulted in an approximately. 4.5 hour flight leg each way, a 20 minute drive to the airport, a 20 minute period of pre-flight prep and packing, and a 20 minute after landing time of securing the airplane and then driving to our SC home.
All told, approximately two hours less time for just about the same cost.
Airline tickets from BDL-SAV would have run about $350 each for three tickets, plus another $40 to park at our home airport and then another $110 to rent a car for four days at the destination, all told, cost of flying commercially is $1,200. The plane cost $900 for fixed and variable cost plus another $400 for aviation fuel for the trip, or a total of $1,300 – and we got there in less time with ZERO hassle. Security hassle consisted of obtaining access using my security card to my local airport and the time spent in the air usually involves pleasant scenery, with good sized windows, and relaxation for the pilot at cruise altitude using an autopilot. While the trip home involved a little rain over SC, we were again in the clear until we reached NYC.
When we reached SC, we landed at a small airport 5.5 miles from our house and used an airport courtesy car to get to our vacation home. We then reversed the process using our local car and stopped at the grocery store less than a mile from the airport and updated our pantry for the Thanksgiving holiday. When we leave we reversed the process and were on our way timely.
During times when wind or weather prevents us from traveling non-stop, whichever direction requires a fuel stop usually ends up taking exactly the same amount of time as using commercial flights. However, we get to to stop at small airports, usually in NJ or VA that have excellent small restaurants owned by local citizens where decently priced homecooking is at a premium.
We stop for potty and a decent meal and while the local airport operator is topping off the fuel tanks for the next leg the humans are doing the same, in a relaxed environment with no worry about missing the flight or getting a poor seat or of being crammed in an airplane sitting on a runway for a long time awaiting take off.
We ONLY fly commercially when it is absolutely necessary, and most times, it is never absolutely necessary to be anywhere that we cannot wait the few hours or the next day when the weather has changed enough to make it safer to fly.
While this mode of transport is not for everyone, it is certainly one mode that is readily and easily available. Our small airplane is paid for, so the only expense we truly have is the maintenance and engine rebuilding reserves, and the cost of fuel and insurance, all of which was included in the costs I quoted above. The benefits are tremendous, and given the major hassle of traveling by air commercially these days, we arrive relaxed, in a good mood, knowing our luggage is always right behind in the cargo hold!