As the world begins to lift travel restrictions, travelers will be faced with a new norm in air travel. Airlines will quickly have to come up with new ideas and ways for travelers to purchase flights, check bags, ticketing, store overhead luggage, and purchase in-flight entertainment. To protect themselves from COVID-19, some people are reportedly opting to buy the seat next to them or even the entire row to avoid contact from strangers. Meanwhile, some airlines are proposing to allow passengers to purchase the middle seat for an extra fee while others are leaving them empty. It will be a mandatory requirement for all passengers and crew members to wear a mask while inflight. Everything will be based on safety and sanitation as airports and airlines will go the extra mile to keep its terminals, check-in counters and ticket kiosks clean. Since COVID-19 landed, airlines have significantly reduced their routes and some cut back capacity to 80% to leave extra room on their planes. Due to COVID-19 concerns, many people who never considered flying private jets in the past are now considering it as a safer alternative to flying commercial.
Mark McNeil, CEO of VOMOS, a private aviation company, understands that airline routes are being cut back, and passengers will find it more difficult to find space on available flights. BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with McNeil about the private jet industry, why it may be a smart choice for travelers, the perception of private jet travel, and advice for young men and women to get into the private jet travel industry.
BE: What is a Private Jet Broker?
McNeil: Jet Brokers are like travel agents who search, find, and book private air travel for their clients. Booking a private jet can be time-consuming and difficult without the proper contacts or knowledge of the industry. Experienced brokers have direct contacts with jet owners or their management companies and are able to match your travel itinerary with the best available aircraft at a great price.
Experienced brokers typically deal with only Part 135 commercial private aircraft with the highest safety ratings and standards. Seasoned brokers regularly attend continuing education courses and seminars to stay up to date on the latest rules and regulations as well as changing guidelines within the industry. Choosing the right private jet broker can save you invaluable time, energy, and money.
Why is Private Jet Travel a smart choice and possibly more affordable for travelers?
Travel by private jet in today’s climate with COVID-19 is smart for those who normally fly first class and are seeking the next level in safety, value, and convenience. We are seeing a significant uptick in friends and family pooling funds together to fly private versus commercial. We are currently running one-way routes from New York to Miami for roughly $1200 per person, which in some instances, cost less than a first-class ticket.
We normally think of PJ’s for the wealthy, celebrities, CEO’s, and investors. Is a PJ experience attainable for the everyday person or family?
Private jet travel is definitely attainable for the everyday consumer although many think it’s associated only with celebrities, athletes or wealthy businessmen or women. Flying private if broken down on a per seat cost can be quite affordable for those seeking a premium alternative to commercial flights and for those looking to avoid the long lines and uncertainty of public airport terminals. It’s definitely something to consider if you have elderly family members or loved ones with lower immune systems or health problems.
What is next for the Vomos and the PJ Business?
VOMOS is in the midst of completing our V3 upgrade to our mobile application to allow users to book flights on demand with guaranteed pricing and availability. It’s rare in our industry for clients to be able to view, select and book a specific aircraft without the aide of a broker. The new VOMOS update will allow travelers to select their exact plane, interior and even order catering without speaking to anyone.
What advice do you have for more men and women of color to find success in the aviation and private jet industry?
- There’s a ton of detail that goes into booking a private jet for travel besides just finding an aircraft and negotiating the best deal on behalf of your client. Successful brokers find ways to seamlessly coordinate in-flight special requests such as catering and creating moments to make their client feel special in addition to arranging pre and post flight requests such as car service and housing accommodations.
- Do your research and familiarize yourself with the different types of aircraft and attend all the industry conferences. There are not many people of color, so you will definitely stand out in the crowd. Use that to your advantage to make connections and be sure to follow up. Prior to starting your own company, I recommend to first work under a company to get your feet wet while establishing a client base until you are stable enough to fly on their own (pun intended).
- The main barrier of entry is not realizing how costly it is to secure a plane at any given moment. Having access to capital and large credit lines especially during the night and weekends when banks are closed are a must. Over the years, VOMOS has served as a credit facility to many brokers of color who don’t have instant access to capital or the ability to get their clients in the air.
To learn more about VOMOS, its offerings, and services, visit www.vomos.com or their social media channels @vomos on Instagram and TikTok.