If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly on those fancy private aircraft that rich people use for getaways such as skiing or beach weekends, a new Web-based company in Smyrna aims to put you in the jet set — at prices that rival those of regular airline seats.
SocialFlights.com allows individuals to book vacant seats on private charter airplanes via the Web and ride point-to-point, avoiding layovers, plane changes and even those long security lines.
For instance, on Friday, one-way flights from Smyrna to Rifle, Colo., on Jan. 2 and from Nashville to Hilton Head Island, S.C., on Jan. 4 were listed on the website for $300 per seat, while a trip from Destin, Fla., to Nashville on Jan. 1 was going for $200.
The service, which began a beta test in February and goes to full operation in January, offers flights to and from airports all over the U.S. — not just the Nashville area.
Besides selling unused seats on charters, Social Flights also has initiated a weekend scheduled service between Smyrna and Knoxville, using a 29-seat Jetstream turboprop plane. The fare is $50 for the round trip, and the flights operate on Fridays and Sundays.
Nationwide, more than 91 private air-charter firms, which operate 627 private aircraft with 30 seats or fewer, have already signed up to offer their empty seats to Social Flights users, said Jay Deragon, chief executive officer and a co-founder of Social Flights.
More than 12,500 people have registered to use the service, he said.
“We’re essentially using social networking to fill vacant seats on private aircraft that go all over the place every day, often with nobody on board,” he said. “A company or group might charter a jet to take them to California, but then that plane flies back empty. With Social Flights, people can buy individual seats on the return trip, giving the charter company revenue it wouldn’t have had.”
Social Flights calls it hassle-free flying because these airplanes don’t use the big airport terminals that the airlines use. They fly out of the private-aircraft terminals at airports all over the country — including thousands that have no airline service.
On these charter flights, passengers don’t have to go through metal detectors or X-ray machines, Deragon said. Their names are run through the TSA’s no-fly list, however, so any suspected terrorists would not be able to board the planes, he added.
“We say, ‘Just show up 15 minutes before your flight and walk right on,’ ” said Deragon, a social media expert who came up with the idea of Social Flights along with Allen Howell, founder and chief executive of the Smyrna-based Corporate Flight Management, one of the Southeast’s largest charter operators.
Each flight has a crew of three — two pilots and a flight attendant.
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[Via - NicheGeek.com]
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