I am writing this blog entry while sitting in a comfortable leather chair, traveling at 455 mph at 40,000 ft. and drinking a warm cup of coffee. I am comfortable and doing work just like I would be doing behind my desk. I can look at the airshow monitor and see exactly how much time remaining until my destination (Tulsa in 1 hr, 11 minutes). That means I can be productive right up until the last minute, because I don’t have to turn off “all my electrical devices” 30 minutes before landing.
Scheduled departure on the Citation XLS I am riding on was 7:00 am. I showed up at the FBO at 6:45, the airplane was on the ramp waiting with the APU running. When I stepped on board the cabin was already nice and cool and the door was closed right behind me. Taxi time was minimal and we were in the air even before our ETD.
In contrast, my trip here on the airlines was a much different story. Going through security at Tulsa International Airport is not the ordeal that it is in a bigger city, but it is still no fun. The downside to traveling out of a small town like Tulsa is that I can only get to 15 cities non-stop, which adds a considerable amount of time and hassle to getting where I need to go most of the time. I need to block out most of the day to get anywhere involving a connection through the airlines’ hub and spoke system.
When at the mercy of the airlines, once you board the airplane itself things typically get even worse. Regional Jets are now the airplane of choice, unless flying Southwest. That means not much leg room and if you have more than a brief case or little back pack, forget about the overhead storage. It was close to 100 degrees in Tulsa when we taxied out, but that didn’t seem to affect this particular airline’s policy of only running one engine for taxi to save a few bucks on fuel. The flight attendant suggested all the passengers should shut their blinds to help the cabin keep cooler. I felt like suggesting they turn the other engine on, but didn’t want to be labeled a trouble maker so I just sweated it out like the rest of the cattle.
I probably could have gotten out my laptop, but it likely would have involved invading the personal space of the person next to me. I decided that my best bet would be to stick my face in a book and try to zone out for a few hours until the trip was over.
In short, the difference in the travel experience between a corporate aircraft and the airlines has never been clearer. My parents visited us in Tulsa last week which is about a 9 – 10 hour drive from their home south of Houston, compared to a 1 ½ hour flight. They flew this time, but my mother made it clear upon arrival that she will be taking the family truckster from here on out. That is very telling. She would rather spend 10 hours in a car with my father than 1 ½ hrs. at the mercy of the airlines. That either says a lot about their marriage after all these years or it says a lot about the airlines’ ability to serve their customers.
Toby J. Smith
JBA Aviation, Inc.