Last year's Super Bowl not only pitted two football teams against each other, private aviation companies also fought for clients and New Jersey airspace thanks to the limited landing options in the area. While the industry will not face the same hurdles for Super Bowl XLIX, (the Phoenix area has several airports to choose from), the private aviation community looks upon the weekend as one of its busiest, and each year there are new challenges and details to tackle. So for a look at what to expect this year, we looked to top private aviation companies JetSuite, NetJets, FlexJet and XOJET to give us a glimpse at what jet travelers have in store, air traffic predictions and what each company is doing to come out on top.
JustLuxe: Last year, the Super Bowl created a lot of issues for private jet traffic; do you expect much of the same this year? How are you combating this?
Alex Wilcox, JetSuite CEO: JetSuite is working closely with the Scottsdale area FBOs [Fixed-Base Operator] and line crews that will be working on the days surrounding the Super Bowl to ensure that we are all on the same page and well aligned with traffic flows and our scheduled arrivals. We are expecting Thursday and Friday to be busiest for arrivals, with departures occurring late Sunday night into Tuesday morning. Thankfully, JetSuite does not charge hidden fees post-flight like many of our competitors, so if there is heavy traffic and clients are delayed for a few minutes, they will not see any fees for that additional time on their bill.
Gregg Slow, XOJET's EVP Sales & Client Services: The biggest challenge is getting planes in and out of select airports. Phoenix has several advantages to other locations in that it is well-served by both larger and smaller airports. There are five local airports which XOJET can fly into that are within 30 miles of the stadium. This year, compared to New York last year, the airspace is far less crowded and smaller airports are nicely spread out around the Super Bowl venue. We should see less air traffic congestion which should lead to fewer delays for arriving/departing flights. As with any big event, congestion tends to be heavier at departure, given everyone typically wants to leave at the same time. Having navigated many Super Bowls in the past, our advisors work proactively with clients to advise on appropriate times to depart and how to avoid delays. In general, if a client can take the extra time and leave late the next day, maybe play some golf, they will be able to minimize potentials for delays. [...] We’re encouraging clients to fly into Scottsdale or Deer Valley airports as we expect less congestion in these airports over the weekend.
JL: How much of the Super Bowl crowd actually arrives via private jet?
GS: In past Super Bowls we’ve had between 30-35 flights over the weekend. We’re seeing strong demand this year and we’ll be filling requests right up until the weekend. Las Vegas is also a popular destination for XOJET over Super Bowl weekend.
Of course, private jet-setters will be expecting VIP treatment while in the air, like high-end cuisine and entertainment. "We've got a team that greets every airplane. We do roll out—it's maybe not red carpet—but there is carpet that's rolled out," Eric Lampert (NetJets' Vice President of Flight Operations) told ABC News. He expanded and explained that guests will get a Super Bowl goodie bag and admission to a party Saturday night that will include a performance from Lady Antebellum.
Flexjet also shared with ABC that they took food a little further and hired Press, a Phoenix-based food truck to cater their flights. The menu includes fare like mini sausage-bread-pudding muffins, caprese salad skewers, and Italian donuts called bombolones. "These details really matter," says Megan Wolf, Fletjet's Vice President of Costumer Experience. "They'll remember years later that we had this really great food truck and how fun it was, and they'll tell their friends. So, it makes a difference."
"In terms of catering, we’re offering Super Bowl-inspired fare—with dishes made for sharing. We’ll have fresh sushi platters from Pure, sliced filet mignon, Southwest-inspired salads and mixed grill platters—and of course, chips and salsa. A full bar and wine selection is available—and of course, for the way back, Bloody Marys," adds XOJET.
With the flights planned perfectly, all you'll have to worry about is the team you're rooting for and if your favorite loses, at least you know you'll be flying back home in comfort.