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Flying with Indigo

How can you enjoy the perks of your own jet, without the expense?Fly with Indigo, a new company that's blurring the distinction between commercial carriers and private planes.

Indigo's fleet of eight-seater jets currently provides daily service from Chicago's Midway Airport to Teterboro, New Jersey. Passengers arrive minutes before takeoff, avoid baggage claim, are driven onto the tarmac, and relax on board in leather swivel chairs. Anyone can buy a ticket, and prices are competitive: at press time, a one-way ticket was $629, compared with $710 for an unrestricted economy seat and $1,693 for first class on American Airlines. By using secondary airports, Indigo has also managed to avoid congestion—in its first six months, 95 percent of arrivals were on time.

CEO Matthew Andersson insists Indigo isn't exactly a new airline. "We're a business jet operator that flies regular, frequent charter flights with set departure times," he says. "That may sound like we're splitting hairs, but there's a difference in how it's regulated." Although such a distinction means little for travelers, it's critical for Indigo, since regular carriers are barred from Teterboro. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns and operates the airport, is keeping a close eye on the company. If it believes Indigo has more in common with commercial airlines, it would consider asking the FAA to review the company's flight certificate, says a Port Authority spokesman. Meanwhile, Indigo is expanding, first to Atlanta's DeKalb Peachtree Airport later this year and then nationwide. 877/446-3446 or 773/585-5155; www.flyindigo.com; or contact your travel agent.

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