To the common travler, "14CFR380" likely appears as gibberish. It is a comparatively brief passage in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14-Aeronautics, labeled "Public Charters", and it allows U.S. and foreign air carriers to conduct chartered flights on behalf of market makers, who in turn can sell individual seats to the general public. At first, this seems just like what scheduled airlines do every day, but it is not. Individuals and companies that identify short-term lift needs, underserved markets, and niche routes can arrange single or numerous charters and in turn, market and sell to individuals. This allows those market makers to select the best rates, aircraft and often luxury amenities to move their customers across the sky.
Part 380 was borne as a consumer protection in the wake of several sports-themed charters that were sold and never executed during the 1970-1980s, leaving passengers without their money or their spectator experience. The resulting enactment by Congress through the US DOT set a high bar for these kinds of flights, requiring bonding and an escrow process that holds a passenger's payment from the 380 company until the itinerary has been fulfilled.
There is a mechanism that creates considerable discomfort for the Part 380 company if flights are cancelled for any reason other than safety within 10 days prior to operation. Additionally, the regulation requires a distinct separation between the company the operates the airplane and the entity selling seats in that airplane, the lack of which can create a legal conflict of interest with the Federal Aviation Administration. Not all organizations that are licensed to fly an aircraft are allowed to run as an airline.
In the past few years, 380 operators have begun to gain recognition in the public's eye. The most obvious example being JetSmarter, whose web-based delivery of flight possibilities to consumers has set the bar for the industry. JetSmarter's business model has always had its detractors, and of late, has come under growing criticism by participants that bought into the program in its earlier days, many of whom paid a hefty initiation fee, in the revelation that newer members have paid a reduced or no fee for a revised travel product.
JetSmarter has been key to bringing a more broad acceptance of Part 380, and to demonstrating the existence of a previously theorized demographic between first class and whole charter/aircraft ownership.
As it has been around for a few decades, Part 380 doesn't earn the moniker of "game changer". However, the application of it in an instantly connected world is an industry disruptor, and that application is growing at a steady rate, reaching a section of the traveling public that would not have been able to afford private/semi-private air travel even a few years ago.
One of the major benefits of most Part 380 flights conducted in smaller aircraft (less than 30 seats) is the bypass of the airport terminal scene. At the origin and destination of most Part 380 flights are the Fixed Base Operators. As stated herein, those FBOs are currently rated by pilots almost exclusively, with loyalty programs constructed to serve aircraft operators. It is our goal to identify those FBOs that recognize the importance of the paying passenger in their success, and to that end we strive.
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