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An Appropriate Choice
Among the many challenges facing Board Members- least among them should be the optics of using Business Aviation- Jack Olcott states. When efficient use of time and effective control over an employee’s schedule are particularly important factors in the outcome of a business deal- transportation via business jet is an appropriate choice.

Everyone who travels via the airlines has his or her horror stories of delayed or cancelled flights. Recently- a close associate missed two business meetings with a major client situated in a mid-western city that is home to 24 Fortune 500 companies.

Over a quarter million people live in that business center and its immediate surroundings. Yet none of the five major air carriers serving the location fly directly from the traveler’s home near Newark Liberty International Airport- a major airline hub- to his destination without requiring a connecting flight - and the vast majority of the aircraft used are regional jets flown by commuter airlines.

In fact- there are no direct flights from any of the three major airports surrounding New York City and the traveler’s desired destination. The traveler missed his appointment- scheduled for 8am the next day- when the first leg of his airline flight was cancelled within a few minutes of its scheduled departure from Newark. The carrier offered him a seat on the next flight out- but the connecting flight in Chicago was fully booked. Without any arrangements for spending the night in Chicago and with concerns that flights the next morning would be problematic- he attended the meeting via conference call.

On his second attempt- he learned upon arrival at the airport that his air carrier had canceled his departure and rebooked him on the carrier’s first available flight out the following day- which also was unable to arrive in time for the appointment set by his client. Once again- he attended via conference call.

For his third try- he booked a flight from Newark to Chicago as well as a hotel room nearby Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. By scheduling a separate flight from Chicago early in the morning the next day- he was able to arrive at his client’s office on time.

As if the airline gods had something against my well-traveled associate- he ran into difficulties when he booked a flight to Canada a week following his previous ordeals between Newark and the mid-west. Although the aircraft boarded on time at Newark for its scheduled departure- the airline captain announced that there was a slight maintenance issue that would delay their departure.

An hour later the airliner departed- but its arrival in Minneapolis was too late to make the connecting flight to western Canada. He cooled his heels in the airline lounge for over eight hours waiting for the next flight to his destination.

For his next trip to Canada- my friend selected a different airline that provided service to his destination via a connection in Dallas- Texas outbound- and via Chicago returning to Newark. The trip west went according to schedule - so far so good; had his luck at last changed for the better? As he was about to leave his hotel in Canada for his early morning return flight to the States- however- he received a message on his Blackberry that his flight to Chicago had been cancelled and that the airline was unable to re-book him.

He was instructed to call the airline’s central booking facility immediately- which he did- and was put on hold (anticipated waiting time 30 minutes). Proceeding to the airport- cell phone firmly affixed to his right ear- my associate wondered if he would be spending the weekend in Canada. He was still on hold when he arrived at the airport.

Dropping the unanswered call and rushing to his airline’s ticket counter- he was able to book space on a flight that was departing shortly for Dallas and would connect to a flight to Newark. Fortunately- his habit of being early for a departure worked in his favor- but snaking his way through customs and security was particularly nerve-wracking according to my associate- as he envisioned missing his newly-booked flight.

With only a few minutes to spare- he sank into his airline seat and had an uneventful flight to Dallas. Upon arrival- the scheduling board listed that his connecting flight to Newark would depart from an adjacent terminal- which could be reached via tram. When he reached the assigned gate- the agent there said there was a change and he should return to the terminal he’d just left—his flight would leave from there. Sorry.

Welcoming the exercise and thankful that there was sufficient time to make the location changes- he proceeded back to Terminal 4 and settled down with his Kindle to read. Then an announcement came that his flight to Newark would not be arriving at Terminal 4 and all passengers must proceed to still another gate- in another terminal. Once again he trundled up the steps to the tram deck- waited for the conveyance and made his way to the new departure gate.

While he was relieved that he would eventually be home for the weekend- a stressful day was spent traveling in an environment that was not conducive to productive use of his time. Was his experience unusual? According to the Associated Press- complaints to the US Department of Transportation concerning airline service rose by 28 percent last year.

The scheduled airlines provide safe transportation at attractive fares- but customer service and predictability are not their long suits. When the right person must be in the right place at the right time- consider the benefits of Business Aviation. It is the most appropriate choice under many business circumstances.

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