Aircraft: Infrequent Fliers

  • Fluto Shinzawa

For a Southern California medical consultant who flew commercially about once a week, the never-ending waits for connecting flights were insufferable, as was the surgery she underwent to relieve her sinuses from the punishment of breathing stale, recycled, pressurized cabin air.

The final straw, however, came last September following the terrorist attacks. She had to endure a five-and-a-half-hour, $400 van ride from New Orleans to Houston with a cabbie named Emil—while she sat in the backseat surrounded by Barbie dolls that the driver inexplicably had in the taxi. She had originally planned to fly from New Orleans to Houston and board a connecting flight to Australia, where she was scheduled to attend an important medical seminar. But with planes grounded and rental cars snatched up, Emil was her only option. “He was a really nice man,” she says.

Despite her taxi driver’s kindness, she decided to ditch commercial travel in favor of Marquis Jet Partners, a fractional jet provider affiliated with NetJets. NetJets is one of the world’s leading fractional ownership programs, but its fee structure is best suited for travelers who fly more than 50 hours a year (NetJets also requires a five-year commitment).

Marquis owners purchase only 25 hours a year and do not pay a commitment fee, but they still have access to the entire NetJets fleet and seven of the NetJets’ 13 types of aircraft, along with NetJets pilots, 365-day-a-year service, and NetJets’ commitment to safety and security. “Many Marquis owners would love to get to the NetJets program, but they’re not willing to make the upfront capital commitment,” Ken Austin, Marquis senior vice president, says of many Marquis owners. “They don’t want to commit to a five-year program. They aren’t sure how many hours they need. But the Marquis owner gets all the rights and benefits of the NetJets owner.”

Marquis Chairman Bill Allard says many of his company’s most recent customers are new to private aviation, and they turn to Marquis to try out fractional ownership. Occasionally, a Marquis owner will fly more than 25 hours a year, and the company then recommends that he or she fly with NetJets instead. “In many cases, our customers will graduate to NetJets,” Allard says. “Conversely, if someone isn’t flying that often with NetJets, the company will direct them to Marquis."

Today, the medical consultant cringes at the thought of commercial travel. She has a client in McAllen, Texas, and a commercial flight from Southern California, including parking, layover, and security checks, can take as long as eight hours. She called Marquis several days before her most recent trip to Texas, gave the company her itinerary, drove her car to the airport, and boarded a Raytheon Hawker 800XP. Three and a half hours later, she arrived in McAllen.

She still flies commercially when traveling to large hubs, but she uses Marquis to visit clients in smaller cities to eliminate the hassles of connections, additional security lines, and waits for flights. “It’s so easy,” she says. “You walk on the plane, put your bags on, go through the safety measures, then you go. For someone with only time and expertise to sell, this is a dream come true.”

Marquis Jet Partners, 212.499.3790 or 866.JET.1400, www.marquisjet.com

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