Following Labor Day, many students’ Instagram and Twitter feeds are awash with travel photos. Images of sandy beaches and the bright lights of Vegas are posted to advertise just how much out-of-town fun people are having.
However, for some, it seems impossible to travel that far and that often for leisure. The costs associated with driving and flying are too high, and this problem is further exacerbated for out-of-state students, who are almost guaranteed two cross-country trips to go home for Christmas and the summer.
This problem could have been easily resolved through the concept of "flightsharing," which was birthed from the minds of Alan Guichard and Matt Voska a few years ago when they founded Flytenow. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s regulations proved too costly.
Flytenow aimed to help private pilots trim down the cost of flying while opening up a unique and inexpensive method of transit.Unfortunately for Flytenow, these FAA regulations were based on faulty logic, and now the ruling is essentially irreversible.
The service would work like a digital bulletin board for pilots, where they can also post their pre-scheduled flights. On Flytenow, pilots can also maintain public profiles containing information about their credentials and aircraft.
They also can include a price per seat, which, due to FAA regulations banning them from turning a profit, would almost always be cheaper than flying commercial.
The wonderful thing about this service, besides the cost, is the convenience. Never again would you be subject to the pat downs and gropes of the TSA. No longer would you have to navigate large crowds in sprawling airports. Instead, just fly into the small, private airfields that are three times as plentiful as public ones. This means more direct flights, and flying closer to your destination than previously possible.
“(Whether the flight is) cheaper or more expensive, people would definitely want to fly into a place that is closer to home,” Andrew Fox, a sophomore economics major at ASU, said.
Brennan Garnett, a junior accountancy major, saw specific benefits for his social life.
“I have friends in Irvine, California that I would love to visit, but there is no cheap way to do so," Garnett said. "A flight sharing service would be interesting and helpful.”
The bottom line is, this company, or any other that could offer a similar service with more competitive pricing, would benefit a large part of the population, especially out-of-state students who travel a lot and are not necessarily enrolled in an airline rewards program.
I say “would have” because Flytenow is no longer in operation, despite it being a novel idea that meets a common demand. This is because the FAA arbitrarily decided in 2015 that they should not exist.
The FAA argues that programs like Flytenow pose a safety issue that prevents them from green-lighting flight sharing services, which would be compelling if their enforcement was not entirely arbitrary.
While it is illegal to post flight details on a digital bulletin board called Flytenow, it is not illegal to do so on a digital wall with Facebook. Pilots can just use physical bulletin boards, or any other type of advertising that occurs offline, so the flight-sharing company should pose no new safety issues.
The FAA does not want private pilots flying with people that are not friends and acquaintances. Yet, they do not actually stop that from happening, as a physical bulletin board can attract anyone capable of reading and paying for a seat.
Michael Pearson, a lawyer with expertise in aviation law, spoke about the inconsistencies in the FAA's reasoning.
“I don’t see any legitimate rationale and I think it slows down trade and impinges transportation," Pearson said. "I think it’s an artificial barrier and it should be removed. It would reduce the price of flight so you’re gonna get Airlines for America ... and in fact the National Business Aviation Association may come out against it (flightsharing), because what they’re gonna try to do is protect the box, protect their livelihood.”
The fact is, this decision by the FAA does nothing more than enforce a soft monopoly on behalf of commercial airlines and private charters, showing that our government is more concerned with protecting corporate interests than the citizens’ well-being.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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