5 Things to Look for When Selecting an Air Charter Provider Service
This is a post by guest author Pat Lambrix of Soluna Air Charter. Pat was asked to contribute to our business aviation blog because of her experience and expertise in chartering aircraft. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Pat’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
There are many ways to find flights for business travel, but air charter providers, or "brokers," are among the best in the business at coordinating logistics for executives. A good broker has at least five key skills which separate him or her from the rest. Those skills, listed below, are especially critical when air travel logistics require a smooth transition from city to city within a tight window of time.
1. Responsive Communications
When you call a broker, are you getting voicemail? Are all your questions being answered? Communication is an essential skill of all good brokers. If an itinerary changes at the last moment, a delayed response by a broker routing your trip can be a missed opportunity for your business. Be sure you find a broker that makes customer service a priority, because clear communication is key to any charter.
2. Positive Referrals
Contact your nearby airport and see who authorities there recommend and why. Usually, the front desk personnel at a fixed-base operator holds a preferred list of 3rd-party providers selected for aviation and ground transportation services. A broker that is short-listed by operators in the area and respected for good business practices will often be recommended.
3. Expert Knowledge
An air charter service provider should answer the phone when you call, is prepared to assist you, knows exactly what you are looking for and is willing to provide you with numerous options with the most competitive pricing. "Serious due diligence is needed to ensure you choose a knowledgeable broker with an extensive aviation background," says President of Desert Jet Denise Wilson, in her book,The Definitive Guide to Supplemental Lift. She also recommends that if you decide to choose a broker that is not affiliated with a charter company, you should consider choosing a company that is a member of the Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA). These brokerage firms have made a pledge to ethical business practices and offer truly worthwhile service to their clients. The membership form from ACANA also states that all prospective members must be sponsored by an existing full member.
Wyvern also has a list of authorized brokers that use Wyverns’ Pass reports to check safety standards prior to each flight. Wyvern’s broker pledge is a commitment that the broker will conduct fair business practices, offer clear pricing and follow regulatory guidelines, as well as promote a strong safety culture. Monique Albert, director of business development for Wyvern, explains, "(Wyvern is) committed to assisting the broker with the safety intelligence reporting of the operator, crew and aircraft for each and every flight."
4. Professional Ethics
Wilson suggests researching a broker online as a first step. Without reference on the broker’s ethics, the charter may cause you a world of trouble.
In July 2011, worldwide aircraft charter and management company Executive Air Services (EAS) published a Charter Broker Bill of Rights (CBBR). The CBBR was designed to offer broker protection from Part 135 operators who may solicit clients. From the broker’s side, they have to be watching and protecting their clients and their client’s privacy.
"In the U.S., it was stated that 65-80% of people who charter do so via brokers," said Matthew Winer, president of EAS. "Therefore, they published the CBBR to let brokers know they respect their client relationships and will never solicit the end user. We feel very strongly about protecting brokers and we are hopeful that this significant acknowledgment will soon become industry standard," he added.
Look for someone that will flight follow every movement of the trip and deliver the information back to you. That information is especially important when ground transportation is waiting, and weather is an issue. A solid broker can redirect ground transportation to meet passengers at a nearby airport or to make critical last-minute adjustments with the crew without creating concern for the passengers.
If you have an international trip, the complexities of planning an overseas flight require a broker that can respond to last-minute changes just before a flight begins or even after it is underway, because that is when things can change and may become difficult quickly. The level of expertise your air charter broker provides is probably the biggest advantage he or she offers to his or her customers. A good broker will select only the best operators that will have established relationships worldwide – including ground handlers and vendors, as well as civil aviation authorities and a dedicated flight planning service with route analysis. The peace of mind you receive from an experienced air charter service provider coordinating all the fine details for you is extremely important. Working with a dedicated team of professionals for your air travel services is a valuable business tool when facing some of the changes and challenges in global travel.
Air charter brokers have provided a valuable service to our industry. They have helped charter operators stay in business as another marketing arm to their charter company and attracted new clients through building relationships. Brokers who see you off when you leave or welcome you back when you return show they truly value your connection with them. A good broker will earn your return business after a positive experience and by using smart judgment to showcase their professionalism and efficiency. With these guidelines, you should be able to find a broker that deserves your business.
If you have any questions about this article or need assistance finding a charter broker for an upcoming trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.