In the world of high school marching bands, being invited to a national competition or asked to participate in a televised holiday parade is a VERY big deal, and it should be! The reality is, most student tour groups have tight budgets, and unfortunately, trip organizers that are not familiar with coordinating a large group air charter. For some high school band directors, the idea of using a private charter flight is pipe dream. Never gonna happen, not worth discussing….but why? Why do decision makers and even parents think that this mode of transportation is out of reach? Let’s debunk some myths about large group charter flights for student performance group travel.
Parents aren't comfortable with their children using the airport in a COVID-19 world.
Although airports across the country are likely cleaner then they've ever been, parents might not be ready for the marching band to actually march through the terminal. Great news.... they can skip that part all together. In a lot of cases, using a private charter allows for direct ramp access. The bus will pull up to the plane for direct boarding. With air charter, the marching band will get a taste of what its like to be a touring rock band! Additionally, a recent article suggests flying private can save your band members hundreds of "touch points" compared to a commercial flight.
We could never afford to charter a plane! We know that you know that a charter flight will be more expensive. But the question of how much more expensive is worth investigating. Asking a qualified air charter broker that specializes in large group moves to look at that might be the quickest way to get that information. We’re able to use internal data to get you that information and get it to you fast. You might be pleasantly surprised in learning that in some cases, charter might only be $100-$200 more per person than scheduled service. In today’s modern world, parents might be more likely to pony up the extra cash or host one more bake sale in exchange for the peace of mind that band has its very own, very clean, plane...with no strangers. One-way charter flights are also a reality. If the priority is getting the entire group to its destination together with the instruments, maybe a one way out and a commercial flight home is an attractive solution that better fits within the budget. Most groups travel with multiple overnights, so they are basically buying two one-ways anyway.
Our group is too small Well maybe you could recruit another xylophone player…or 50 of them. For real though, there are a couple ways to combat this assumption. First would be to explore different aircraft type. Your standard narrow body aircraft will typically have between 150 and 180ish seats… but your group is closer to 100. Looking into a regional jet, like JetBlue’s Embraer 190, might be the better fit. A more outside of the box solution might be combining groups. Is there another HS band headed to the same event? Can you all leave from the same airport? Do you hear that?? It’s the stars lining up for a value drive charter flight. Huge savings can come by leveraging the power of the buy. Trip planners may only be working with one or two bands heading to the big event but a charter management company like Air Planning that works with multiple groups can negotiate better deals by decreasing empty legs and maximizing crew usage with double rotations, or scheduling flights on back to back days.
If there is a mechanical issue with the aircraft, there is no way our group would be able to get a last-minute replacement. If a large commercial airline has an issue with the plane before takeoff, they’ll typically have a maintenance team on sight to quickly fix the problem before you even know it existed. Also, if the plane can’t fly for a given reason, a large airline is typically able
to recover quickly using its vast network of other aircraft. Now I know what you might thinking... there’s no way a small charter air carrier could do any of that, But you’re wrong! Did you now most charter carriers will take a mechanic or two on all flights? That would be like having your auto repair guy in the back of your car, always. Awkward! Additionally, if the situation calls for it, there is nothing more exhilarating to a charter broker than replacing a plane last minute. Oh, you don’t think I can find sub-service for your broken plane??? Hold my clarinet...
I’ve never heard of that airline, it can’t be safe Scary Air, or Fly By Night Airlines aren’t actual companies. But have you ever been on commercial flight and while taxiing on the runway you spot an unmarked, white plane? It’s likely that it belonged to a charter carrier. Parents of band members might be a little weary of using a carrier they are not familiar with, but with that said, a reputable charter broker will only Part 121 or Part 135 FAA certified carriers. We have a different blog that takes a closer look at differences between FAA certificates, but what you need to know is that Part 121 charter operators are held to the same safety standards as commercial airlines.
That’s a lot of money…how do we know its protected? Collecting a deposit on a charter flight is an industry standard, but it might not leave a first-time charter customer with the warm and fuzzies. In most cases, these students spend weeks and months fundraising and they parents of course open their wallets as well. It’s frightening to think that if it could disappear without a trace in the event your broker went out of business. Luckily, a reputable broker will offer for funds to be held securely in escrow ahead of the actual travel. We hope that the above info might convince you to take a closer look into using air charter for your high school band’s trip. If working with a travel company already, share this bog with them. We’re also proud members of the Student Youth Travel Association (SYTA), and are able to refer you to other reputable companies to help plan other components of your band’s trip.