BLOG: The Private Airtravel Playbook For Collegiate Sports

College sports are still in full swing and excitement for the upcoming fall NCAA season sits in the air, which means planning for team travel in advance.

While the rules of the game remain the same, how managers get their teams to the game has changed. Once an option sought after only by pro teams, private aviation now takes the lead in ensuring that collegiate players arrive just as safely, efficiently and together with team spirit intact.

But just like sports, the aviation industry has its own jargon that can be overwhelming and confusing, especially to new travel managers and first-time team flyers. As private air travel and collegiate sports converge more than ever, at Private Jet Services (PJS), we want everyone on the same playing field. 

Whether a rookie at chartering private aircraft for your team or looking to gather a better understanding of the hundreds of options on the market, we have the playbook that will catapult you directly into the pros. 

Aircraft 101: The Terminology

Part 135 vs. Part 121 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlines hundreds of regulations and standards for the airline industry. These regulations are categorized as “parts” and govern various types of aircraft and airline operations. However, when choosing the right aircraft for your team, we’ll stick to just two parts. 

  • Part 135 (regional aircraft + executive jets) — Operators are certified air carriers approved to charter aircraft between 1-30 passengers. 
  • Part 121 (airliners) — Operators are certified air carriers approved to charter aircraft with 50+ passengers; all major US air carriers use this certificate.

Payload – The amount of weight that an aircraft can carry, including everything from passengers, luggage, cargo and fuel. 

Seat Pitch — Slightly different from legroom, seat pitch is the distance from any particular point on a seat to the same point on the seat in front or behind it.  

Your Team. Your Jet.

Now that we have the basics covered let’s dive in. Find your sport and start flying. 

College Golf Teams — Although golf teams are typically small, most teams should book larger-sized business jets (heavy jets), which hold up to 19 passengers. Even if moving a smaller group, a jet this size will account for personal luggage and each player carrying a golf club set. 

Mid-sized Olympic Sports Teams — 30-set jet options, such as the Embraer (EMB) 135 or 120, are popular solutions for sports teams such as volleyball, softball, baseball, soccer, swimming, wrestling and even smaller basketball teams. The EMB-120 is typically a more cost-effective solution for teams on a budget but lacks the luggage space of the EMB-135, which has a larger maximum payload and a faster, smoother engine for a more relaxing flight for your players. 

Division 1 Basketball Teams — When traveling with more than 50 people at a time or extra tall players, the Boeing 737 provides enough seat pitch for your 6’10” center to stretch their legs. PJS also has access to the largest inventory of VIP-configured 737s ranging between 56-76 seat capacity with a minimum of 34,000 lbs of payload. 

College Football or Track & Field Teams — Travelling commercial with pole vaulting equipment highly unrecommended. The Boeing 737-400 seats up to 150 team members and has 34,000 lbs of payload to cover any size equipment and any size linebacker. 

Championship and Bowl Travel – When the travel party increases to 200 or more people to accommodate traditional team members and players, wide-body aircraft such as the 767-300 become necessary options. Head to the championships in style and impress donors, administrators and family members.

College Bands — Last but not least, the team that holds all the rest together and keeps spirits uplifted under any circumstance also deserves the support and comfort of a wide-body aircraft. These larger airliners can handle 50,000 lbs of payload and have plenty of extra room to travel with any size instrument, from flute to drumline. 

Still have questions about chartering air travel for your team? Reach out to our concierge to learn more.