Congrats on going deep into the playoffs! We are always excited when our sports team charter clients do well enough in the regular season to make it to post-season play. Better yet, we have seen our fair share of clients become championship teams. Playoff travel can be new territory for some teams, as well as their travel staff. How do you take advantage of the direct point-to-point, on-your-schedule benefits of charter? In this blog we help answer some of the more common questions we hear from playoff teams. So let's go all the way and win this thing!
Seat Math can be Tricky
Let's see, your team has 45 people, so you just need to charter a 45 passenger plane for your sports team charter, correct? Not so fast. Most of our team clients have gear, sometimes lots of it. That 50 passenger regional jet is fine for the commuter and her briefcase, but not for a sports charter flight. Here's why; aircraft are designed to carry passengers and a limited amount of baggage. No more, no less. They weren't designed for large athletic humans, or the bags, boxes, and cases of gear that typically follows around a team. Uniforms, pads, medical equipment, mascot cases, AV gear, plus personal baggage can add up in a hurry. Before you know it, you have an extra 5,000-10,000 pounds of "stuff" to transport.
Heavier team payloads can present two issues for regional jet charter planes; chances are a regional jet will struggle to carry all of the weight. Secondly, it would be nearly impossible (we say nearly impossible because "Anything is possible!" - K. Garnett, Boston Celtics, June 17, 2008) to fit a sports team's equipment in the cargo hold of on a regional jet.
Always work with your air charter broker on what you would like to bring with you. Is the destination close enough to truck some of the equipment? That could get your payload down and possibly make using a smaller (and less expensive) aircraft an option for the team charter. A solid air charter broker can match your seating requirements along with the team's payload requirements to the right aircraft.
What if You're Eliminated and Don't Need the Charter Flight for the Team Anymore?
Eliminations are painful, but they happen. They have to. No self-respecting travel staffer would wait to see if they will need a large group air charter until a day or two before they have to travel, only to find that very few, if any, aircraft are available in their price range. Then again, nobody wants to pay for an aircraft they don't need. Your air charter broker can assist you with trying to negotiate the best cost for an air charter flight as well as the terms with the charter airline to minimize your financial risk while also making sure that your team has an air charter booked when you need it.
Wait, What? 100%?
Keep in mind that sometimes it won't be possible to reduce financial risk, and the cancellation will be 100%. Charter airlines have to schedule and pay their crews, arrange ground handling, fuel, security, and so forth. Even more importantly, they have to forgo operating any other charter flights that would conflict with your sports team charter. This gets factored into the cancellation charges associated with a charter flight. The best way to mitigate this is by having your air charter broker keep you apprised of availability of large group charter aircraft right up until you can determine if you need a charter flight. While this won't guarantee an aircraft for you, it will be a huge advantage during your travel planning to know what is still available as time passes. That said, the longer you wait, typically the less availability there is.
Sharing Air Charter Costs for Team Travel
We get it. Some teams will never travel together. Yet there is significant savings to be had when two competing sports teams collaborate on air charter. When Team A and Team B both need to travel to the same city in the middle of a playoff series (Team A is going home, Team B is the away team), the cost can be mitigated by sharing the same air charter flight for sports teams, instead of each team making their own arrangements. Large group air charters cost less per passenger the more passengers you have. The cost for a charter airline Airbus for example will in many cases be less than two regional jets. Savings are realized by converting two smaller groups into one large group air charter.
Team charter flight sharing makes a lot of sense when larger aircraft with higher payloads must be utilized. A 60 member team may have to book a charter plane with 160 seats just to accommodate the payload. That's a lot of unused seats. Discuss your flexibility with your charter broker to share charter flights with the other team whenever possible.