Editor’s Note (December 21, 2017): Through to the end of the year, BBC Capital is bringing back some of your favourite stories from 2017.
Curt von Badinski, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of a San Francisco-based tech company, has a six-hour daily commute from Los Angeles – most of it by plane.
Five days a week, he rises at 05:00 for the 15-minute drive to Bob Hope Burbank airport, for a 90-minute flight to Oakland, located 353 miles (568km) north west. He parks close to the departure building of Surf Air, a California-based airline that offers unlimited flights on a single-engine turboprop plane, for a monthly fee. Von Badinski pays $2,300 to take return flights from Burbank to Oakland.
Having undergone a background check, von Badinski can bypass the main terminal, skip any usual security procedures and board the plane within minutes of parking.
Once he’s in the air, he uses his time to work free of interruptions network with other like-minded air commuters, including start-up founders and venture capitalists.
And, while von Badinski is aware that his flight comes with a significant carbon footprint, the Bay Area leg of his journey is more environmentally friendly. He keeps a plug-in hybrid vehicle at Oakland airport for the drive into San Francisco.
Such a long commute in a region where there are big discrepancies in the climate, poses additional challenges. It might be sunny in LA, but San Francisco is likely to be cooler and foggy. “The first several months that I was doing this commute, I was always caught off guard,” he says.
Von Badinski gets to the office by 08:30 and leaves by 17:00, allowing time for busy traffic on his drive back to Oakland airport to catch his return flight at 19:15. He is home in Burbank shortly after 21:00.
“The way I justify a six-hour commute is having the ability to have all the things that I want," he explains.
“I am always excited to start the day."
Filmed and edited by Alexander Polunin. Additional editing by Trevor Sochocki.