A Day in the Life of a Trip
Your Five-Star flight experience is the result of the work of dedicated team members across the company, coming together to provide a safe and successful journey.
Let us introduce you to the world of flight operations.
Like the gears of a machine, each department works in sync and in tandem, working behind the scenes across the Flight Concierge, Flight Planning and Crew Coordination departments. These processes take place simultaneously and must flow together harmoniously to make a trip possible.
“Prior to a trip taking place, a Flight Concierge quotes pricing for trips to Jet Card clients,” said Missy Kemp, Director of Five-Star Service. Each trip receives a quote based on a generic aircraft size category: Light Jet, Midsize Jet, Super-Midsize Jet, or Heavy Jet. “Additionally, each department receives aircraft owners’ trip schedules.” When aircraft owner trips are scheduled, other departments begin pre-trip processes, including any needed maintenance events and crew scheduling.
Jet Linx pilots aren’t on a set rotation so their days off each month vary based off the aircraft schedule. “The demands of the schedule are constantly changing, but we do want to get pilots their off days in as much advance notice as practical for the business, so this effort requires a little more planning upfront,” noted Casey Traver, Crew Coordination Manager. For example, for days off in August, crewmembers will request their days between the 15th and 20th of July. Then the Crewing team reviews all requests between the 21 and the 25th and publishes them by end of business on the 25th of July for planning purposes. Aircraft with two and three-person crews have their scheduling parameters and are noted on the schedule.
“For three-person crews, we’ll notate who is on duty each day and highlight any crew swap days,” Traver said. “That’s important because if we have a three-day trip that’s over a crew swap day where one crewmember is going off-duty and the other is coming on, that helps the Fleet Optimization department know what they can schedule that aircraft for. Proper notice helps everyone plan more effectively.”
When a private jet trip is scheduled – whether for a Jet Linx aircraft owner or Jet Card client – a series of events take place to ensure that every flight operates with the highest level of safety and service.
The Flight Concierge team assigns FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) and inputs passenger names, catering requests, luggage requirements and ground transportation needs. When an aircraft owner schedules a trip, a similar process kicks off – but the trip is scheduled in the owner’s actual aircraft in the flight management system.
“We also add notes in an area called special handling, which are any special needs for the trip: if there will be a dog on board, the purpose of the trip, or something trip-specific that the other departments will need to be aware of,” Kemp continued.
“Ideally, a firm departure time will be set, but a trip can be scheduled with a more general note of ‘morning’ or ‘8 AM to 10 AM,’ for example. One of the benefits of a Jet Card is that you have that guarantee. Jet Card clients are guaranteed aircraft availability, and as such, they can set firm departure dates and times,” Kemp noted. “If you want to leave at 10 AM, you can do that. We may have a little more flexibility in scheduling with an aircraft owner.” Aircraft owners make their aircraft available to Jet Card clients, and as such, usually allow some flexibility in flight times to make sure the Jet Card trips are accommodated.
Once a Flight Concierge has recorded the trip in the flight management platform, Flight Planning and Fleet Optimization begin working on the trip. “Flight Planning will check the new trip checklist items required, and Fleet Optimization will begin to look at aircraft options to complete the trip, looking at both in-fleet and off-fleet options,” Kemp said. “On average, a tail number is assigned three to five days out from the trip. We try to average five days out whenever possible.” If the trip is booked within a week of the departure, Crew Coordination works on assigning crew immediately, while a Flight Concierge checks the operations board to see if there is anything that will need further research, whether crew days off or a scheduled maintenance event.
The Flight Planning team starts reviewing the trip at least three days before departure and earlier when specific logistical concerns exist. “We apply a standard set of checklists to each flight and add additional specific checks depending on the airports we are visiting,” said Neal Goodpasture, Flight Coordination Supervisor. “We look at permits, reservations, runway requirements, curfews, FBOs and capabilities, NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) and aircraft performance.” The team reviews crew duty times and advises Flight Concierge of maximum crew duty time trips. For international trips, our International Operations team completes the same reviews and also verifies operations to the country in question and checks for handling, customs, and any needed permits.
A flight risk assessment and crew fatigue assessment are completed, including a review of risk levels, crew duty and operational issues. The team then finds solutions to mitigate these factors. “We review any action items with the Fleet Optimization and Flight Concierge teams so alternate plans can be put into place before the trip to provide the highest level of customer service possible,” Goodpasture explained. “For example, if we schedule a flight into Aspen in the winter, but weather conditions at the intended arrival time are not forecast to be safe, we would be able to alert the customer and provide guidance of a safer arrival time, or alternate airport, to get the passengers on their way with minimal interruption to their plans.”
THE DAY OF THE TRIP
“At Jet Linx, we divide the Flight Coordination process into three specialized and focused buckets,” said Goodpasture. “Flight Planning for trip preparation, Flight Control for managing the flights as they happen, and International Operations to tackle the complicated process of operating in countries around the world.”
On the day of the trip, the Flight Control team verifies that nothing has changed in regards to the weather, crew duty times, and NOTAMs. “We re-review details of the flight, as do the crew,” Goodpasture said. Crews arrive at the airport one to two hours before departure. The duty on time varies depending on the size of the aircraft, the duty day, and whether the aircraft is departing with passengers or departing empty.
“The expectation on live legs with a 90-minute show is for crewmembers to be ready to depart 30 minutes before scheduled departure,” Traver explained. “This timeframe allows for preflight inspections, fueling and final flight plans, or clearance preparations, and any cabin or catering items required are also handled during that time.”
At one hour before the scheduled departure time, the crew reports to Flight Control that both pilots are on-site and initial preflight steps are on schedule. “All flight details are reviewed with Flight Control and confirmed: this includes that the catering requested is on board, alternate plans – if you have a runway performance issue and it wasn’t resolved until that day, things like that are discussed at that time,” Traver said.
Flight Control otherwise manages the trip on the day of the flight. “We update everyone on any delays, EDCT (Expect Departure Clearance Times) assignments, or flow control programs,” Goodpasture said. “We advise Flight Concierge of what kind of delays we’re expecting and what alternate routes or airports are needed due to weather.” During a busy holiday weekend, for example, some airports may be overwhelmed because of the number of aircraft entering, and holding patterns or diversions might come into play, so the Flight Control team makes sure all parties are aware of any potential issues.
“We make sure the aircraft is going to the correct FBO, the catering is in place, ground transportation needs are addressed, and we then monitor for any issues during flight,” Goodpasture noted. “Finally, the Flight Control team will address any feedback from the crew and passengers on how the flight went at the end of each leg.” This allows Jet Linx to take every opportunity to improve service internally and externally.
“We keep in close communication with crews to quickly react to any issues,” Goodpasture said. At that point, Flight Control will advise Flight Concierge of any issues or changes to plans. “If there are any major delays or changes to routing or passengers, this triggers Flight Control to re-release the flight, which means all of our flight-restrictive checklists have to be redone.”
Once the flight takes off, the team tracks the aircraft’s progress throughout. “We monitor from the moment the crew closes the doors to the time passengers disembark to make sure the aircraft is on track and operating normally. Any deviations – caused by anything from weather or maintenance and beyond – we take immediate action to provide the crew with any support they might need.”
When the private jet lands, the crew checks in with Flight Control and reports the aircraft is safely on the ground at the correct destination, and passengers are on their way. At this point the passengers are asked (both in person and via the Jet Linx Mobile App) about their flight experience, how the crew performed, if there were any issues with the aircraft, or if there is any other feedback to provide. The crew completes post-flight duties, including reporting any discrepancies to maintenance, and cleaning, sanitizing and restocking the aircraft.
“This helps us prepare if there’s a trip scheduled in the aircraft for the next day,” Traver explained. “We get all the information gathered, and that helps us know if we need to call Maintenance or get an overnight cleaning done, and to do what we can to mitigate any delays for the next day.” The crew logs post-flight times or provides times to Flight Control over the phone if they are unable to input the times electronically. “That allows us to accurately determine crew duty time and verify crew duty time and flight time, from a regulations standpoint.”
SERVICE IMPROVEMENT OPPORTUNITIES
After the trip, feedback from the crew and passengers is reviewed in an in-depth process for Service Improvement Opportunities (SIOs).
“The process can be started at any point in time, but the day of is when most of these opportunities – whether there’s a negative, neutral, or positive impact on a flight – are going to be created,” Erin Donnelly, Jet Linx Vice President of Revenue Management, explained.
“It’s meant to be updated and give real-time updates on the progress and conclusion,” Donnelly continued. “We want to use it to measure client sentiment, both good and bad. Reviewing anything that could be considered a negative – even something that may not have had an impact on the specific flight in question, but could affect a future flight, like a late positioning. We can learn from any potential missteps,” Donnelly explained. She emphasized the importance of real-time updates for the SIO process because a solution can only help a future flight if all team members are aware of the situation and resolution.
Flight Concierge then completes the billing process, preparing the invoice for accounting.
The expert teams at Jet Linx analyze every aspect of each trip to make sure that each one is performed as smoothly as possible. How does our team accomplish this day in and day out? Through expert teamwork and communication across each part of the process, between time of scheduling and the day of the trip. Each piece falls into place in a meticulously calibrated pattern, following government regulations and company best practices.
FROM START TO FINISH
SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO THE TRIP
- Crew Coordination assigns the crew, considering crew qualifications, rest, and duty time
72 HOURS PRIOR TO THE TRIP
- Flight Planning reviews the flight – with more detailed information: an aircraft is usually assigned at this point, and long-range weather forecasts are available
- Trip details are reconfirmed to the client, and changes are made if needed
24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE TRIP
- Flight Planning reviews the flight
- Specific weather information is available
- Pilot crew duty time from the day prior to the trip is reviewed to ensure proper duty time & rest requirements
- “Ops review,” including informing teams of any potential issues for the next day’s flights
- Fleet Optimization works through details with off-fleet partners
- Flight Concierge reviews final itinerary with Jet Card clients and aircraft owners
- Maintenance teams approve the airworthiness for each trip
- Pilots officially accept the trip after receiving a flight brief
- Flight Planning and crew review outstanding operational questions, like weather, runway limitations, or NOTAMs (Notice to All Airmen, with timely information for the flight)
- Passenger count or airport changes require a new crew brief from Flight Coordination