By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Private jet travel is poised to see its busiest quarter this winter, thanks to passengers who want to distance themselves from possible COVID-19 exposure.
Magellan Jets, which operates out of Scottsdale Airport, is no different. The company hand-screens and reviews the qualifications of all pilots and crews and enforces strict COVID-19 protocols and safety guidelines that exceed what the FAA and most private jet operators require.
Magellan Jets’ staff is preparing for an influx of travelers whom, they recommend, should make plans early for holiday and winter travel.
“The No. 1 thing we’re experiencing are folks traveling between homes in the Scottsdale area and Aspen or Eagle, Colorado, which is somewhat funny, considering the difference in climate,” says Ryan Foss, Magellan Jets’ director of flight support.
“They escape the winter by going to Colorado, and then they return to Arizona for the warmth. That is almost entirely what we see. We have some who go in and out of California or across the country to the New York area.”
This winter, Magellan Jets teamed with the yachting company IYC to bring access to private aviation and yachting to clients and guests.
For those who want a destination warmer than Colorado, there are Caribbean locations, which are typically visited between November and April. With IYC, passengers can travel to destinations like the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts, St. Maarten and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Massachusetts-based company offers three ways to travel. Jet card owners have 10 aircraft from which to choose; 72-hour scheduling notice; customized options, catering and guaranteed Wi-Fi with 50-plus hours; multiple aircraft daily usage; round-trip discounts; long-leg discounts and personal owner adviser.
Jet memberships receive guaranteed access to one of four categories of private aircraft. Private aviation consultants work with travelers to find the aircraft best suited based on their needs, preference and use.
Foss says Magellan Jets’ pricing is based on the value travelers receive. An advantage is arriving later for a flight — 10 to 15 minutes before takeoff — instead of two and a half hours early for a major airline.
“You also don’t have to pick up the phone, be put on hold and press extensions trying to talk to a customer service representative,” Foss adds.
Getting to know you
Foss boasts that customer relationships are personal.
“We know your wife’s name, where your son went to college, your dog’s name. It’s all about value. We very rarely try to chase the prices of our competitors. We know what our experience is worth. Customers have tried to chase prices and they’ll fly with someone else on a certain trip.
“They turn around on the next trip and say, ‘I get it now.’”
The guest experience team creates detailed member profiles after extensive and detailed onboarding phone calls. That, Foss says, allows Magellan Jets to “anticipate their needs before they even ask.”
“Our members and jet card owners don’t have member numbers,” he adds. “We know them, and we can go into their last trip and research whatever they need from an upcoming trip. We have a guest experience department that has the sole purpose of looking at profiles and opportunities for experiences.”
For example, if travelers are going to a football game or Aspen to ski, Magellan Jets’ staff will personalize the aircraft for that mission. Foss says it’s not necessarily a request. It’s about being kind and accommodating.
“If they’re going skiing, we can put boot warmers on board or hot chocolate on board,” Foss adds. “Our guest experience team knows the mission — why they’re flying — and we take advantage of that opportunity.”
In one instance, a customer’s son was playing a championship game in baseball. Magellan Jets put enough Gatorade in the plane for the entire team. Travelers have also flown with their children to visit college campuses for future studies. They arrived on the plane to find it decorated in the college’s colors. When the family was ready to jet off to the next destination, the décor was changed to reflect that school.
“When we know that you’re flying with us for a college tour, we try to, tactfully, ask what college or university they’re touring. We will go ahead and reach out to the college store. We’ll try to get college swag delivered to the aircraft and have it decked out on that college’s gear.
“All of a sudden, the Clemson gear that was on board is now Dartmouth or whatever it may be. We do things like that very often.”