FBO Review: Signature (KRST - Rochester, MN)

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by Sinistar, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Technically this for a specific FBO vs fun place to fly, however your travels may take you through here so here goes. I believe AOPA has been after Signature in the past due to them not publishing prices and some pilots/owners seeing some unexpected and high fees charged. Well KRST is only 90nm from my home base and my fear of the landings fees has always lead to doing a full stop and taxi back for takeoff. So I thought I would give it a try to see what it is all about.

    TLDR Version:
    My overall take is that they are very nice people. The ramp guys were top notch and didn't spill a drop. They handled everything fast. A courtesy car on a weekend is very accessible. And the weekend fuel discount normalized and actually went below a lot of other nearby large FBO's. I would say they have done a lot to make GA weekend visitors more welcome....if you are buying fuel. I think they have a second personality on weekdays as they are very busy, prices are higher and courtesy car availability is very in demand.

    The longer version :)

    With a nice tailwind on the way down, the old Skylane was cruising at a nice 178mph ground speed and just above the summer bumps at 5500msl. One handoff from MPLS Approach to Rochester Approach meant easy FF and radio work. One large jet landed ahead of me and from the downwind I could see the large Emirates Airbus sitting at the terminal. For some reason I often suck at landing on large runways and this was my first time on R31. I love the contrast from the awesome clean white pavement to all the big jet tire streaks. My landing was better than average. Without even looking at a taxi diagram in advance, I managed the taxi instructions right to the ramp with no questions asked or progressive. It was the same leaving. Nice!

    I knew going into this that I would need some fuel and from looking at their website and airnav (in advance) I had an idea of what to expect. I asked the line guy to put in 24g (12 a side). I knew it should fit.

    As soon as I walked in I said "Hi!" and asked a few questions. Probably the most important question was what prices will be. At this location they offer 50cent/gal discount on weekends! So here is the breakdown:

    Handling Charge: $29 (GA Single)
    Handling Charge: -$29 (Waived with 7gal of fuel or more)
    Handling Charge: $0- (Total - no charge)

    Infrastructure Fee: $5 (Not waived, I believe this is a Airport and Not FBO fee).

    100LL: $5.29/gal (Signature's Price)
    100LL: $0.0194/gal (Federal Excise Fee)
    100LL: $0.05/gal (Rochester Airport Fee)
    100LL: -$0.50/gal (Weekend Special - not weekdays!)
    100LL: $4.86/gal (Price I paid)

    So my take is if you just want to pop into the FBO, go and cool off and get a candy bar and take off again you will be paying $34 - might as well buy some fuel or pick another airport if you don't need fuel. I got this vibe that they really want to waive that $29 fee for a GA plane but wasn't sure what other things might work.

    In my case (stopping in for fuel) the price was only 30cents/gal higher than our sleepy municipal airport. There I have to fend off mosquito's or freeze my but off. I think full serve fuel prices up in the Twin Cities Class 'D airports are actually a bit more. However they are the same price 7 days a week.

    I thought the FBO was quite nice. One really cool thing. While I was asking questions she was actually getting the crew car keys and form out for me. I had no intentions of taking the car but asked a few more questions. The have a 2hr policy. No fees that I am aware of. However, on Weekends it is a lot slower and they will most likely let you have it out longer.

    I grabbed my receipt and headed out to the plane. As I said earlier, the taxi instructions were quite easy (no airport diagram was even needed). I loved the takeoff. With a slight headwind the 182 was just reaching pattern altitude before reaching the end of the runway....lets see a big jet do that :) And that was on a hot humid summer day with a Density Altitude of.....drumroll.....2300 LOL!

    Anyway, I turned north and flew over town...a neat scene against all the farm land all around it. I was a bit nervous of helicopter traffic from that Mayo Clinic buildings and about 7 seconds after my spiddy sense tingled Approach called out a chopper lifting off so I turned on course, got a FF squawk and headed home. That 178mph ground speed there turned into 129mph heading back.

    I would definitely go back on a weekend or stop through on a weekend if I needed gas.
     
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  2. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    The infrastructure fee is not an airport fee, but your experience at Signature on weekends is the norm at many Signature locations and has been for the last couple decades.
     
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  3. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the clarification and elaboration on the other locations on weekends. I had kept hearing how AOPA was after these guys and I can see why....especially if you're just wanting to land and stretch you legs and they are the only FBO. At the same time, if you need some gas they become pretty much like everyone else with pretty much full service across the board. Its too bad they can't find a working answer for the pilot who just wants a short break.
     
  4. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    You stopped on a weekend. Many Signature locations are ghost towns on weekends because the business jets don’t go to places like Rochester on weekends. If you had stopped on a week day things would have been in full fee mode and you would be on here complaining.

    Also Signature locations associated with resort destinations do not have weekend deals. One Signature location AOPA squeaks about is KEYW. The ramp and tie downs are packed and there is no way to run that location without line staff. There is also no way typical line guy wages allow living in the Keys. So the wages have to reflect that reality and so do the fees.
     
  5. EdFred

    EdFred Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I was just in there a couple weekends ago and paid no fees. But it was also a Lifeline flight, which they waive when under the CMF banner.

    Also if you need a diagram at RST from Signature, you may want to go up with a CFI :D

    I departed on 20, so yeah, pretty easy.
     
  6. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    I was at KRST later June or so, picked up a relative that had been at Mayo, flew to MI.

    I bought some fuel, approximately 20+ gallons. It’s a very nice FBO, nice people too. Besides the slightly higher priced fuel, compared to podunk remotes, I just paid the $5 ‘facility fee’ or whatever. They did have a few snacks & ‘free’ bottled water.

    Considering the location, services and such, I had no problem with the $5 fee. I was on the ground about 45 minutes.
     
  7. N1120A

    N1120A Line Up and Wait

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    That's cheap fuel without the discount