called the “Netflix of business travel”.
Surf Air, a
new start-up airline based in Burbank, California, is offering monthly, “all
you can fly” subscriptions – promising a corporate jet experience at a fraction
of the cost.
pay $1,650 per month for unlimited flights aboard Surf Air’s Swiss-made,
single-engine, eight-passenger Pilatus PC-12 turboprops. However, as with
Netflix, which allows customers to order all the DVDs they want but hold only a
few at a time, Surf Air limits travellers to a maximum of four boarding passes
at one time.
June, the small-scale carrier will offer short-haul flights between four
California cities: San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
Eventually it plans to expand service to Palm Springs, San Diego, Sacramento,
Lake Tahoe and the Sonoma/Napa area.
What’s in it for business travellers?
promises no-hassle travel and high-end concierge service for frequent travellers.
Members can book flights online or on their smart phones in seconds; enjoy
free, unlimited parking; and board through private air terminals. There’s no
check-in, no TSA screening and no boarding lines.
also no extra fees for luggage, last-minute reservation changes or
refreshments, all of which are included in the subscription. In two surprise
perks, Surf Air subscribers get unlimited, complimentary guest passes, allowing
them to book accompanying flyers for free. And members will have the golden
opportunity to network with other business travellers aboard the small, local
Is this a new business travel model?
a business is challenging, starting an airline is doubly so. It is an extremely
capital-intensive, high-risk venture with a high failure rate. Even most large
US carriers have experienced operational turbulence, with bankruptcy, labour
disputes and restructuring.
Air CEO Wade Eyerly says that’s exactly why his start-up will succeed.
“This is a
market desperate for disruption. Airlines are literally the only industry that
ranked below cable companies for what people think of them – dead last among 47
industries surveyed. No one likes flying,” he
told National Public Radio.
Surf Air to succeed some milestones will need to be met. It will need to attain
enough subscribers to support the operating costs and keep them happy enough to
renew their membership. Because it services business travellers, Surf Air must
also make convenience and stellar customer service a priority.