“When you get into the larger aircraft it becomes like a hotel, with dozens of staff supporting the plane based in a galley area down below. You have very comprehensive cooking facilities, and on larger aircraft we have looked at theatres, with spiral staircases and a Steinway grand piano. The limitations for what you can put inside a plane are pretty much the limits of physics, and even money cannot always overcome that. Even so, people are still always trying to push [the limits]. ”
The Best FBOs
One big surprise for new business jet travelers is the discovery of a strong aviation infrastructure to take care of jets and their occupants at airports all over the world. Every year, our sister magazine, Aviation International News, asks its readers to rate these companieses-known as fixed-base operators, or FBOs-on a one-to-10 scale in four key categories: line service; passenger amenities; pilot amenities and services; and facilities.
While passenger amenities constitute just one of the four categories, they clearly represent a high priority for FBOs. Over the years, these amenities have grown better and more useful. Most FBO managers recognize that business travelers typically care little about gold-plated bathroom fixtures, but also that well-equipped conference rooms, paparazzi-free private lounges and a theater room for the occasional long wait can make spending time in FBOs a pleasure rather than a tedious stop.
The facilities that made the list of the Top 40 FBOs in the Americas (see next page) represent the cream of the crop, and if you fly regularly on business jets, you no doubt recognize more than one of them. You'll find full survey results for the Americas and the rest of the world at
For the 2009 FBO Survey, one surprising result was the toppling of Memphis' Wilson Air Center from the top spot, which it has held for many years. Now number two, this facility is owned by Bob Wilson, son of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson, who was no stranger to the need for stellar customer service. Wilson Air Center's score remains high at 8.97, but a city-owned and -run FBO, Sugar Land Regional Airport near Houston, ranked even higher at 9.09.
Aviation International News invited 14,687 of its subscribers to participate in the survey and received 2,661 properly completed responses, a return rate of 18.1 percent. Readers rated 41,098 facilities worldwide, an average of roughly 15 per respondent.
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