Inside Beacon Air, A New All-You-Can-Fly Membership Club
The new northeast airline will serve the busy and competitive New York–to-Boston route, and that's just the beginning.
Beacon Air, a new, all-you-can-fly membership club, will debut on September 15 with nine round-trips a day—on private aircraft—between New York's Westchester County Airport and Boston's Logan. To get in on the action, you'll need to plunk down an initial payment of $1,000 to join, followed by monthly dues of $2,000 a month. It may sound pricey, but after that investment you can fly as often as you like between the two cities, while avoiding TSA hassles and other annoyances of commercial air travel.
Flights will be aboard the King Air 200 turboprop operated by Beacon partner Dynamic Aviation; the planes seat six, with four seats facing each other for a club-style layout. On the ground, fliers will depart from two private aviation terminals: Landmark Aviation at Westchester, and Signature at Boston Logan. The company will likely add flights to Washington and other business destinations and, next summer, to Nantucket and the Hamptons.
If this all sounds familiar, that's because it is. The service is an East Coast version of Surf Air, a short-hop California airline that has been operating since 2013, and whose founder, Wade Eyerly, is now CEO of Beacon. In an interview, Eyerly said that the densely populated Northeast Corridor was a logical place to transplant the model, given the high air fares on the shuttles from New York to Boston and Washington. In fact, he said, he’s already close to reaching his goal of an initial membership of 400 to 500 members.
The membership rolls will expand as routes are added; he says he is particularly interested in markets like New Haven and Princeton, New Jersey—both major university towns with other industries like pharmaceuticals—and where there’s enough demand for travel to Boston to justify a service like Beacon.
Eyerly said that based on his experience with Surf Air, Beacon will feel less like an airline and more like a private club. "When you have 500 people who fly regularly on the same route, they really get to know each other," he said, adding that some people who met on Surf Air flights have kept up their connections on the ground. "It's some of the best networking in the world."
While the all-you-can-fly approach would seem impractical—after all, what happens if everyone wants to fly at the same time?—Eyerly said his experience at Surf Air shows it can work. Similar to a Netflix rental model, members are limited to four confirmed reservations at a time; once they complete a flight, they can add another. And to address any concerns about safety, Beacon has gone beyond the FAA requirements and requires two pilots to be in the cockpit on all flights. Since there's no formal security at Westchester, all members are fully vetted at the time they’re admitted (at Logan's private terminal, fliers will also pass through magnetometers, which can detect metal objects, but it's still a far cry from the typical TSA screening experience).