By Patricia Doherty
November 01, 2019
Courtesy of Surf Air

Flying first class is always a luxurious experience, with lie flat seats, exclusive pre-flight lounges, plenty of space, and a glass of champagne waiting for you as you step on board. As wonderful as that is, especially on long flights, I’ve now encountered an even better way to fly — on a private plane with Surf Air. 

Flying Surf Air on a short flight from the Los Angeles area to Santa Barbara was a taste of the easy, luxe life. I drove to the local private airport (without any of the standard airport traffic), parked a few yards from a small office building, checked in with a friendly person holding a clipboard, and munched on snacks while waiting to board. No lines, no need to arrive hours early, no lengthy process before taking off. Just walk to the aircraft, climb a few steps, and settle in onboard the private plane. 

Surf Air offers a variety of memberships geared towards frequent fliers, commuters, occasional travelers, groups, or charters.

Courtesy of Surf Air

Surf Air Memberships

“Surf Air Express” is a membership for occasional travelers who want to have the convenience of private air travel without paying a monthly fee. The annual membership costs $2,500, and one way flights start at $500. Members of this al la carte program have access to all routes and can book via an iPhone app. There’s no penalty for changing or canceling flights, even at the last minute.

The “Group Membership” is best for companies and families flying routes within California and Texas. Starting at $5,000 monthly, an unlimited number of fliers have access to the group’s ten-pack of flights.

The “Unlimited Flights” membership offers all-you-can-fly plans starting at $1,950 per month. Within this membership category, there are three levels offering different services and destinations.

The $1,950 monthly “Basic” membership provides access to core routes only, which service the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara, or Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

The “Preferred” membership ($2,450 monthly), Surf Air’s most popular membership option, provides unlimited flights on all routes in Texas or California, including Truckee/Lake Tahoe, with one complimentary guest flight per quarter.

The “Premium” membership, priced at $2,950 monthly, includes unlimited flights and access to all routes across California and Texas as well as one complimentary guest flight per month.

Surf Air Planes and Pilots

Surf Air flies the Pilatus PC-12, a pressurized, single-engine eight passenger turboprop executive aircraft, recognized for its reliability and safety. Its maximum range is 1200 nautical miles, and its cruising speed is 322 miles per hour. Planes are maintained in accordance with the most rigorous standards, with regular mechanical inspections as well as comprehensive pre-flight checks before every trip.

Surf Air’s pilots have flown commercial, military, charter, and private aircraft. While the FAA requires only a single pilot for this aircraft type, Surf Air requires their third party aircraft operators to utilize both a captain and first officer on all flights. Flight crews include an experienced ATP-rated captain and a first officer with an FAA commercial license.

Surf Air Destinations

California destinations include Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Oakland and San Carlos in the San Francisco Bay area, and Truckee/Lake Tahoe. In Texas, Surf Air serves Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

Surf Air plans to add several new destinations to its roster, including Orange County, San Diego, Mammoth Lakes, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo, and Scottsdale.

Surf Air operates scheduled flights within California and Texas, with details available on their website. Interested individuals can experience a trial flight on Surf Air before committing to a membership.

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