Commercial vs fly yourself

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Monpilot, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Monpilot

    Monpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The topic about the 200kt six seater had someone mention that airlines were invented for a reason and it got me wondering what most on here consider their cutoff point between flying themselves vs flying commercial.

    I live in Houston so I'm pretty centric to a good chunk of the country. My club has a pa28-181 so I'm looking at around 110kts/ hour.

    On a full tank I can fly for roughly 3 hours with reserves which works out great for rest and potty stops.

    A member of the club says he as no minimum distances he will fly so he will even fly down to Galveston instead of drive.

    However his max is about 5 hours and that is probably 1-2 hours more than me since landing and refueling takes up at least 45 minutes in itself.

    So for me, my range is likely Memphis and El Paso and all points within that radius. My trip to New York will be commercial both for time as well as cost.

    How do you decide whether to fly commercial or not?
     
  2. markb5900

    markb5900 Line Up and Wait

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    For me, it has always been flying myself for pure enjoyment.
    If I HAVE to get there, it is commercial.
     
  3. warthog1984

    warthog1984 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Given where I live in SoCal...

    Anything <100NM is car or $100 hamburger territory.
    Anything <8 hours door-to-door by 172 (Generally, PHX) is GA.
    Anything over that is commercial or a "special" trip.
     
  4. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    My cut-off is about 150-200 miles for car/light plane, and about 500-600 miles for light plane/airlines.

    One factor is my location here in Salisbury MD on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. There are places to which I can fly in an hour that would be four hours driving (around the Bay). Also, any airline flight is at least a 2-legger, usually three -- SBY to PHL/CLT to destination, or SBY to PHL/CLT then to another hub, then hub to destination).

    Another factor when on business is the cost of shipping the sim which I can carry in my car or plane but isn't going as baggage on the airlines. It's a couple of hundred bucks to send it FedEx.
     
  5. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Will go anywhere for a few days just to fly,and see the country. If I have to get there or travel with the wife then it's commercial. time to spare go by air.
     
  6. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If I have to be there by a certain time, I go commercial.
    If have to go there and back in a specified amount of time, I go commercial.
    If I have the luxury of going or not, or changing my destination or time schedule, I take my slow little 172 and have 10 times the fun.
     
  7. JHW

    JHW En-Route

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    personal travel is always in our own plane. We don't go places served by airlines. My cut-off for personal travel is 4-5 hours in the car, any longer and I fly.

    Business travel is (by rule) either by car or airline. My cut-off for that is 10-12 hours in the car before I'll fly. I still wind up on a delta or united flight at least once a week.
     
  8. airguy

    airguy Cleared for Takeoff

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    I guess about 4 hours in the 172 is my practical limit - that's about as far as I can realistically compete with the airlines, but gives me the option of setting my own schedule and not getting TSA-raped. I go between Midland and Tulsa quite a bit, and I can beat Southwest Airlines every time on both price and time door-to-door with good weather.

    For business travel or any other personal "gotta-be-there" scenario, I always have an airline reservation for plan B in case the weather or mechanical gremlins sneak up on me.

    Now Vegas - I can make Vegas in six hours. And I'll do that myself everytime - simply because I want to. I know the airlines subsidize the Vegas flights and they can shave an easy hour off my time. I don't care. It's my fun time, it's why I fly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  9. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :yeahthat:

    Doesn't that explain the main reason that many of us fly in the first place?
     
  10. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Pretty much exactly here, except our cutoff for personal travel is as far as it takes to get to the airport. When we went to Newfoundland in February, we flew ourselves.

    For work, I can't fly myself. But for personal, that's all we do, at least until we end up going someplace that GA just can't get to without massive hurdles. Think China.
     
  11. CT Arrow

    CT Arrow Line Up and Wait

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    Adios!
    Delete
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  12. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I can believe what I'm reading. :no:

    If I could land at Menards I would fly my plane everywhere. :dunno:
     
  13. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Paul Bertorelli over at AvWeb had an interesting article recently about the hell of airline travel these days and how it plays into and benefits GA. I completely agree - I travel so much for work (and have for years) that I absolutely hate airline travel with a passion these days. It used to be tolerable, but after 9/11 it's gone completely mental. When I go internationally I don't really have a choice, but on my US jobs I try to fly myself there if there's time. This is the main reason I stepped up to an Aerostar, so that I could put a serious dent in even the longer travels I do. Here's the article:

    http://www.avweb.com/blogs/insider/Airline-Travel-as-GAs-Savior-220548-1.html

    Up to about 1000nm, give or take, I beat the airlines in door to door time, easily. Let me give you two recent examples, one where I did beat them, and one where I can't:

    Example 1: The other day I had one of those dream scenarios. My presence was requested in Baker City, OR (!) for work and the arranger asked me if she should reserve a ticket to Boise or Portland for me, which would I prefer? Baker City is a small town on the border of Oregon and Idaho and the drive from Boise would be 2hrs. From Portland the drive was a whopping 5hrs!

    My options were:

    1. LAX to either Phoenix or Salt Lake City. Wait 2 hrs, connect, then fly to Boise, then drive for 2 hrs. Total door to door travel time: about 10hrs

    2. LAX direct to Portland, then drive for 5hrs. Total door to door: 10hrs

    I took a quick glance at the map and sure enough; Baker City Municipal Airport with its 3 long rwy's was a mere three miles outside of town. "I'll get myself up there", I heard myself say. On the day, I comfortably cruised up there in perfect VFR in 3hrs 20mins. Not only that, I had my foldable bike and could cycle in from airport. Door to door time was less than 5hrs.

    Example 2: LA to NY. This was over 2150nm and it took me 11hrs going west just in flying time. Add at least 3hrs for refuelling and restroom stops. Actually, I spread it over 2 days and slept overnight enroute in between, but it could conceivably be done in theory in one day. You'd be a wreck, but doable. Here I have no chance of beating the airlines, obviously. I did it anyway just because I enjoyed the challenge and hate airline travel so much.
     
  14. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Alone: pretty much anywhere I am going by myself, I'll fly. I haven't done anything over 350 miles or so yet, but am looking forward to it.

    With my lovely bride: If it's under 8 hours or so by 172 and I can talk her into it, I'll fly. That usually means we drive, she's not a huge fan of the 172. I'm hoping that will get better in a couple of months when I meet the club insurance requirements for the 182.

    But I'm still a noob, and fly for fun. I haven't had enough time to get jaded yet.
     
  15. JimG.

    JimG. Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That was pretty much me as well.


    I used to have a couple of manufacturing plants that were 3 hours away from Phoenix and Albuquerque airports.

    That's after driving to the airport in Salt Lake city, arriving 90 min. before the flight, the flight, baggage claim, and rental car counters…about 6 hours total time from the time I left the house

    I could make both of those in 2–3 hours myself with about an hour from the garage to gear up

    When I lived in Phoenix and needed to go to the plant in northeastern Arizona… it was 3.5 hours by car… 45 min. by air.

    With all the driving to the airport, preflight, etc. I only saved about an hour, but boy could I justify flying:D
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  16. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I had a time period when I was considering buying a helicopter and just giving up on ground-based travel.
     
  17. stratobee

    stratobee Cleared for Takeoff

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    Another thing to take into consideration is the fact that many times with your own plane, you can beat the departure schedule of the airlines to start with, getting a good head start. Exactly this happened in my Baker City, OR example in previous post: We were done with our work early, in the afternoon. I jumped in the plane and get back to LA that very afternoon/evening. Not only did I save the 5hrs in pure travel time, but it saved a complete day! I would have had to stay the night there and get a commercial flight the next day.
     
  18. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Yeah, don't think that hasn't occurred to me. Several relatives have suitably sized yards or nearby fields, we could cut down on a lot of driving time when visiting. Looking at the speed, useful load, range and comfort (not much of ANY of these) of anything I could even come close to affording to fly made it obvious that I'd be sticking to runways rather than helipads.

    I'd still love to have an autogyro for short hops, though! :D
     
  19. AcroBoy

    AcroBoy Line Up and Wait

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    Door to door a trip of around 1000 miles is equivalent in time for me between going comm air versus my own plane. More than 1,000 than comm air is generally faster, and of course cheaper.
     
  20. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    Part of what killed the idea for me was the need to go with an experimental helicopter to make it the least bit affordable.

    Experimental + helicopter should never be in the same sentence.
     
  21. moonshine

    moonshine Line Up and Wait

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    Only reason I fly commercial is the affection for the Delta cookies.
    In the perfect world I'd fly everywhere myself
     
  22. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    I hear ya. Anything remotely close to my budget would be completely impractical for anything I'd want to do with it, other than the occasional pancake breakfast.
     
  23. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Now you have me missing Midwest Express... sigh.
     
  24. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it's "100kts", not 100kts/hour. that's about all I can contribute at this stage. :) although I did just fly commercial from CLT to SFO.
     
  25. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can get them at any Super Walmart these days :D
     
  26. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have thought about this. At this point, I could still stick the family into an Enstrom 480. From my backyard, I could reach anywhere from NJ to NC faster than using any of the alternatives.
     
  27. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I only fly commercial when there's significant cost effectiveness with the airlines. Like an upcoming trip from SoCal to KS (1200mi +,-). In my Comanche, I usually make it in less than 8 hrs., total travel time (one stop for fuel, potty and stretch). About the same as airline total travel time, but without the hassle. Or if I absolutely have to be somewhere and the wx looks too sketchy for even filing IFR.

    It is only cost effective for me to take my plane to KS if I take more souls than just me. On this trip coming up, a SW ticket was only $371 roundtrip. Tough to beat. So, for the price of just fuel in the Comanche (about $1,100 RT), I am getting the flight, the hotel, and the car and probably the meals by going with SW this time. I hate not taking my plane, though.

    Otherwise, anything close to 1 1/2 or more hours of driving, and I'm flying my plane if at all possible. :D
     
  28. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Yeah, there is that. I have an upcoming trip to Charlotte. If I fly myself and get reimbursed for the cost of the commercial ticket (which is the most I could do and not cause a stir) I'll be out of pocket about a grand by the time I'm done.
     
  29. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    I almost always have flexible schedule being self employed and non appointment types of visits so my cut off is more about personal preference and cost than scheduling.

    However if it is reasonable wx I can make nearly every point in the US from my Wichita, KS location faster by Comanche at 175 knots than by flying with preboarding, tsa, ticket check in, switching planes and such. I can do NY, FL or CA each in about 5 hrs. Going west usually only ads about 30 minutes as I can find a flight level that doesn't have too much head wind. Going east I can also go to a FL that has 30-70 tail winds on 14.5 or 15 gph not to bad either either ground speed of 205-240.

    If I have one other person along with me and its a no brainier not to have to put up with TSA. What also makes flying GA better for me is that I never know till the last minute that I want to go so I seldom get the opportunity to buy a 7 day or 21 day excursion ticket so my ticket prices is always very high. Sometimes as high as my avgas flying single pilot.

    My dad was a truck driver when I was young and I got to go on some trips with him so I internalized marathon driving. I can drive Wichita-NYC in 24 hrs or Miami in 28 hrs or Palm Springs CA in 19 hrs and I enjoy doing it. So often if I do not fly the Comanche, driving is the backup plan not commercial aviation.
     
  30. skidoo

    skidoo Line Up and Wait

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    I don't fly commercial and won't unless it is a serious emergency. Last month I flew a 1200 mile trip (one way) in two legs. They were supposed to be about 3.5 hour legs, but because of 40 to 50 kt direct headwinds, it ended up being about two 5 hour legs. Still that was close to the same as commercial time.
     
  31. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I spend 4-6 weeks each winter in the Palm Springs area. Plane fare is free, bags are free, cokes are free and total travel time from Dallas is ~3 hours for which I must allow 4.5 for travel time, and airport check-in. My friends from Tulsa are usually on the same plane and their trip requires an additional 2.5 hours. We are always able to make a noon tee-time at Indian Canyons South, a course that we like a lot and is only 10 minutes from the PS airport.

    Say again why I would fly a little airplane and park it on a tie-down for a month?
     
  32. moonshine

    moonshine Line Up and Wait

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    See, no more reasons to fly commercial! :D
    Although I do appreciate the work of the guys up front and the cabin crew, I'd much rather be driving myself around.
     
  33. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    "The difference between flying yourself places and flying the airlines is the difference between a stretch limo and a Guatemalan prison bus."
     
  34. wabower

    wabower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    More like the difference between a smart car and a Yukon XL.

     
  35. Tarheel Pilot

    Tarheel Pilot Line Up and Wait

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    I'm a hobbyist, so I only fly for fun. So if I can take my time getting to my destination, I just gas up my LSA and go. However, if I have to get there, it's the airliners for me.
     
  36. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You're in luck. KCFE has a Menards right next to the taxiway!

    :wink2:
     
  37. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    I'll take the Yukon XL.
     
  38. Bill

    Bill Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    How big is your yard?

    http://justaircraft.com/page.php?45

    :D
     
  39. Ted

    Ted The pilot formerly known as Twin Engine Ted

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    The idea wouldn't work today for many reasons. Back in PA, you may recall that I had almost 2 acres backed up to a corn field, and would have been easy to either have a helicopter or STOL plane in the back. There was also a large parking lot at the home of leaky engines, and of course an airport is, well, an airport.

    Now we have under an acre, and it's all wooded. There's no good place to land much of anything, and the parking lot at work wouldn't work, either, although there is a field that might work.
     
  40. DaleB

    DaleB En-Route

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    Yukon XL -- I assume that's the airliner? You're kidding, right? In a Yukon you're not crammed up against the 8 people around you, which most of us are. If you're you're in first/business class it's a lot better, but if I were riding in the big comfy seats it would be cost effective (though less comfortable) to fly myself. I don't find the 172 any less comfortable than coach.

    I can't even think of an automotive equivalent for coach seats in an airliner. Right now I'm flying a 172, so it seems like the difference between a '43 Willys and a high speed sardine can with 300 seats.

    In the 182, it's more like the difference between a '78 Buick and a high speed sardine sardine can with 300 seats.

    In an RV it's more like the difference between a Corvette and a high sardine can with 300 seats.