AirPooler Could Be the Uber of Flying

Pieter v Marion CC BYPieter v Marion CC BYThere's a lot of buzz around services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, which facilitate convenient, competitively priced rides around cities. Given the state of the airline industry—the cost of flying is creeping up every year while the experience of flying gets worse—it's no surprise that someone figured out how to take the ride-sharing business model from cars and adapt it to planes.

This week a service called Airpooler is launching on the East Coast. Last week it got off the ground on the West Coast.

AirPooler allows private pilots to post listings about upcoming trips, requiring them to input important information about their own credentials and experience and their plane's weight limits. "Most pilots listing flights on AirPooler fly small single-engine piston airplanes that carry from 2 to 4 passengers," explains AirPooler. For passengers, requesting a ride is no harder than ordering a ticket on a commercial flight, and one can even send questions to the pilot beforehand.

The Daily Dot's Brendan O'Connor, incredulous, asks why anyone would get on some stranger's plane, calling it "an insane idea." He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

But the service regulates itself, notes BetaBoston, by "only working with pilots who are members of flying clubs like East Coast or Associated Pilots," which "have processes in place for vetting pilots, and ensuring the airworthiness of the planes."

Prices, meanwhile, are far from prohibitive. Right now, the service lists a round-trip flight from Palo Alto, California to Sacramento this weekend for under $180. A comparable economy ticket from United Airlines with such short notice is over $800.

Part of the reason tickets are so cheap is because the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits private pilots from accepting personal payment; they can only be reimbursed for "flight costs" such as "fuel oil, certain airport costs or rental fees." One consequence of restricting profits, though, may be that pilots aren't able to expand operations and offer even more flights to meet consumer demands.

Still, AirPooler's take off is yet another example of the sharing economy's ability to disrupt the status-quo in surprisingly simple ways.

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  • R C Dean||

    why anyone would get on some stranger's plane, calling it "an insane idea."

    Yeah, you'd have to be nuts to get on any plane where you don't know the pilot. I can't fly commercial because I don't know a single airline pilot.

    "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    So glad he can tell me what I need. I'm actually going to look into this for my flyfishing trips. Pretty sure they have a landing strip at the ranch.

    If 1% of the world is the market for this, then that's 70 million people. Sounds like plenty, to me.

  • ||

    Yeah, he's a moron. Once again an example of a talking head/journalist who, not familiar with something, is so self-involved and navel-gazing that they cannot conceive of anyone else wanting or using something they don't. There are small airfields everywhere in the US, and let me tell you that getting your friend to fly you from, say, southern CT to central ME is a lot faster and more pleasant than driving.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They're fine with such things, so long as some central committee had the idea in the first place and controls the whole process completely.

  • Loki||

    Pretty much. "Oh noez! Something that isn't being centreally managed and controlled by TOP. MEN. bureaucrats!!!" *clutches pearls, falls over onto fainting couch*

  • mr simple||

    Well, bureaucrats are the only ones properly licensed to conceive of and manage such endeavors.

  • db||

    I'd be more.concerned as a pilot that I'd get some passenger bent on a spectacular suicide.

  • R C Dean||

    One consequence of restricting profits, though, may be that pilots aren't able to expand operations and offer even more flights to meet consumer demands.

    I suspect flights will be offered to meet consumer demands. I ask if anyone is flying from point X to point Y. Who is to say that the pilot who responds wasn't planning to do so before I asked.

    As for "profit", well, if I cover the entire cost of a flight he was going to make anyway, that sound like profit to me. And if he schedules a flight for me, who is to know that I "accidentally" left an envelope with a couple hundred bucks behind in the plane?

  • db||

    Well, you never know when the guy who just lost his envelope full of cash in your airplane happens to work for the FAA. And skwerls rule the.earth. skwerls.skwerls.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    I agree and take this one step further - farther - further. No one but maybe the one percenters will ever use it and therefore it should be outlawed. And if not, the TSA better be screening passengers.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The word you're looking for is führer.

  • Sevo||

    Brendan O'Connor's an idjit who'd do better keeping his yap shut.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Brendan O'Connor is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

  • Invisible Finger||

    I'm pretty sure 100% of the world could never use Brendan O'Connor.

  • db||

    A friend and I discussed starting up a similar business model a few.m9nths ago but abandoned.it.because.we thought.it would be too difficult to ensure airworthiness and pilot expe4ience/credentials. Also liability was a concern. I wish the AirPooler folks luck.

  • sloopyinca||

    Are you sure you didn't abandon it because you typed up your prospectus on a smartphone and therefore nobody else wanted to invest?

  • db||

    I knew there was.something wrong when we.started getting responses pledging $10.0000 investments.

  • ||

    Does it star Dolph Lundgren?

  • ||

    "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    If only 1% use it then it be a business with $100s of millions in revenue each year.

    Jesus this guy is an asshole.

    "World doesn't need 100s of millions in business that increases transportation efficiency!!"

  • sloopyinca||

    You can say that again.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, quite a few industries in the western world serve less than one percent of the world population.

  • ||

    "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    If only 1% use it then it be a business with $100s of millions in revenue each year.

    Jesus this guy is an asshole.

    "World doesn't need 100s of millions in business that increases transportation efficiency!!"

  • Invisible Finger||

    It can't be said enough.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, the FAA is pretty specific about who can fly with passengers and what money can change hands.
    I hope not, but I doubt it'll last long.

  • John Thacker||

    The bigger issue is the IRS and taxes, which are far higher on commercial flights than general aviation.

    OTOH, Warren Buffett's NetJets timeshares for private jets, after fighting many unfavorable IRS rulings, got Congress to insert a provision giving them the lower general aviation taxes, so who knows?

  • Ted S.||

    Ah, but that's Warren Buffett, who can just buy Congress to pass laws that benefit him.

  • db||

    They have hired a former FAA lawyer to be their counsel. I'm sure they're aware of the.issues, and they're addressed in the article.

  • ||

    Right now, the service lists a round-trip flight from Palo Alto, California to Sacramento this weekend for under $180. A comparable economy ticket from United Airlines with such short notice is over $800.

    Wow, that is kind of awesome. Next time I have to travel i will be looking into this.

    Hell I would be looking into this even if the cost was the same and I didn't have to deal with crotch grabbing security and hordes of other travelers at some large commercial airport.

  • Jordan||

    The Daily Dot's Brendan O'Connor, incredulous, asks why anyone would get on some stranger's plane, calling it "an insane idea." He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    Luddite spotted. I don't know whether Brendan O'Connor is a progressive or not, but he definitely shares their mindset. I find it hilarious when I hear a progressive criticize conservatives for being stuck in the past.

  • Winston||

    I don't know whether Brendan O'Connor is a progressive

    Well judging by this article he could be:

    http://www.dailydot.com/entert.....-bloggers/

  • Pro Libertate||

    I remember as a kid, reading an article in The Young Children’s Encyclopedia on something or other with a bunch of pictures of futuristic personal flying craft. Like two kids flying a garbage can looking thing. I want that.

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling?||

    "flying a garbage can looking thing"

    Dick Tracy magnetic air car?

    http://www.dicktracymuseum.com.....nventions/

  • Pro Libertate||

    Kind of, but it was open at the top. Clearly before lawsuits.

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling?||

    The animated series had open, one man flying cans.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Good, I'm glad that flying cans are part of the general mythology and not limited to some LSD-swilling artist in Encyclopedia Britannica's employ.

  • Sevo||

    ..."some LSD-swilling artist in Encyclopedia Britannica's employ."

    Hey, who you callin' a ...?!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Relax, these renderings were done in the 70s.

  • db||

    I'd consider signing up as a pilot if they allowed privately owned planes. Currently they limit the.planes to those owned.by.flying clubs.or rental outfits, which are.subject.to more intensive.and.frequent inspections than most privatelyowned planes.

    I'm sure flight clubs and rental agencies.will have something to say about their liabilities here,too.

  • Jerry on the sea||

    because the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits private pilots from accepting personal payment.

    Please make cheques out to Mr. Auto Pilot.

  • sloopyinca||

    It's spelled Otto.

  • Ted S.||

    Do you like gladiator movies?

  • gimmeasammich||

    I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    look kid, I bust my ass every day up and down that court.

  • sloopyinca||

    The Daily Dot's Brendan O'Connor, incredulous, asks why anyone would get on some stranger's plane, calling it "an insane idea." He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    Did his grandfather say the same about buses? Did his great-grandfather say the same about passenger trains? Did his great-great-great grandfather say the same about stagecoaches?

    Fuck this luddite assclown.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    The Daily Dot's Brendan O'Connor, incredulous, asks why anyone would get on some stranger's plane, calling it "an insane idea." He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    Just like those damned cordles "cellular telephones". Do the Gordon Geckos of the world really need even more symbols of status!?

  • John||

    And those damned automobiles. Do you realize how fast they go? No one but the 1% will ever want one or need one. You have to be insane to want a carriage that is propelled by exploding gasoline.

  • Raston Bot||

    Technology, optimization, deflation, decentralization.

    What's not to love?

    Oh, right, control. There's no centralized control. Burn it.

  • ||

    Sometimes I wonder whether these people who cannot conceive of things that aren't centrally controlled, or wet their pants over it, are born or if they are made. Because there sure seem to be exponentially more of them every year.

  • John||

    They are mostly made. Basically they are people who are expert manipulators of the current system, because they have spent their entire lives telling their betters what they want to hear and being rewarded for it. Anything that threatens that and by extension their ability to function, scares the hell out of them.

  • John||

    The biggest cost of flying is owning and maintaining the plane. Airlines, since their only purpose is to make money, necessarily pass all of those costs onto the consumer. A private pilot, since he gets pleasure out of flying, doesn't have to do that. As RC points out above, anything I charge above the extra cost in fuel the additional weight of the passengers cost me, is profit if I am a private pilot who likes to fly and would have made the flight anyway. Pilots and plane owners have been engaging in this sort of thing since people started to own planes. Hey, your plane is in the shop or doesn't have the range mine does, cover my gas and I will fly you up to Hooterville this Friday and come get you on Sunday. I need the hours anyway. That kind of stuff goes on all of the time. Making such things like Uber and on the internet is only surprising in that no one thought of it sooner.

    As long as the guy had a license and a good plane, I would do this in a minute. Hell, I might do it just for fun. Small planes are quite fun to fly in. They only get risky when the weather gets bad. A multi engined jet can fly in weather that a smaller prop plane has no business flying in. That is really the only draw back to this service, weather is going to be much more likely to cancel your flight.

    And yes, Brenden O'Connor is an ignorant douche bag.

  • sarcasmic||

    Except that, as db pointed out, they don't allow privately owned planes.

  • John||

    A lot of pilots rent planes because they can't afford to own one. The fact that they only allow rentals is not that big of a deal. Moreover, pilots who don't own but instead rent planes to keep their hours up, would do so more often if they could easily find passengers to cover all or some of the costs.

  • db||

    I think I would rather fly with a pilot who.owned his.own plane and flew.it.often.than I would want to fly with a non-owner who only flys infrequently and.might not.be.flying the.same plane all the.time.

    I am still relatively low.time, but it is.interesting how rusty.you.can get with.just.a.few.weeks.on the.ground. it's different than.driving for.sure.

  • Raston Bot||

    There appears to be a regular Vegas-Carlsbad commuter circuit for ~$250.

    How strong are the airline lobbyists?

  • John Thacker||

    Well, I think that the airline lobbyists would, not unreasonably, attempt to point out that airline passengers have to pay ticket taxes and so forth. For this to really get off the ground, it would need some relaxation of the FAA restrictions, but I'm sure that tax parity would then become an issue. (Though, as I mentioned above, there's always NetJets as an instructive example.)

  • db||

    Man exonerated after 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit after his attorney finds a hotel receipt confirming he was at Disney World when the victim was killed in Brooklyn, NY. Prosecutors successfully argued that even though he had.plane tickets and reservations, that he could not.prove he.was.not.in NY during the murder. A woman recanted her testimony as an eyewitness to the shooting years after his.conviction, saying she.was coerced by cops to testify against the. man, however, he lost his appeals anyway.

    I want to see the cops, the prosecutors, and the "witness" brought up on charges, but we will never see that, will we?

  • John||

    How did they not find the hotel receipt? Did the government have it and hide it? Why didn't his defense attorney call the hotel. That was 1989, hotels kept records of their guests by then and also required a credit card to hold against damages.

    That is a terrible news story. Something else happened that isn't being mentioned. There has to be more to it than "hey we finally found the hotel receipt".

  • db||

    True, the guy probably had poor representation. But the cops had the receipt.in their possession for.decades. What kind of degraded piece.of shit would do that?

  • tarran||

    The receipt was in the guy's pocket when he was arrested, so the cops had it from the get-go.

    What a fucking cluster fuck.... 25 years!

  • John||

    The receipt was in the guy's pocket when he was arrested, so the cops had it from the get-go.

    Then they hid exculpatory evidence and ought to go to prison for it. They won't of course but they should.

  • Raston Bot||

    He had video from his vacation.

    Who gives a shit about a receipt.

    This guy is owed 8 figures.

  • John||

    That won't get him his life back. Society and justice are owed those people's heads on pikes. They lied to send someone to prison for their entire lives and used their official power to do so. That is worse than most murder cases. They should never be allowed to walk free again, any of them.

    What a horrible country we have become where someone can do that and face no consequences.

  • Raston Bot||

    So the jury consisted of braindead fuckwits?

  • db||

    Brooklyn, NY.

  • Loki||

    I want to see the cops, the prosecutors, and the "witness" brought up on charges, but we will never see that, will we?

    Maybe the witness, after all she's just a prole.

  • ||

    Crap only one flight even close to me. And max weight passenger is 180 lbs including luggage.

    I am probably 200 lbs naked so I guess i am not going to be on that flight =(

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling?||

    Pilot - "put some pants on, you freak!"

  • db||

    On the.other hand...

    "Well, ma'am, it seems our weight and balance is forward of the c.g. limit. Any way you could transfer some weight to the.baggage compartment?

  • tarran||

    What if you secrete a helium balloon on your person?

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling?||

    What if you secrete a helium balloon on in your person?

    FTFY

  • Invisible Finger||

    The Daily Dot's Brendan O'Connor, incredulous, asks why anyone would get on some stranger's plane,

    Why would I listen to a total stranger like Brendan O'Connor?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Less than one percent of the world's population read him, you know.

  • ||

    To be fair, there are some people who can't imagine dealing with anything other than a hobbled system bogged down in its own bloat.

    Like Apple users.

    If any pilots are considering this for northern Virginia, I'll be the guy on his porch waving money.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm having this weird Fletch flashback right now.

  • ||

    Oh boy.

    I predict, with my infinite powers of foresight, that the FAA is going to fucking put the lid on this shit in five minutes.

  • Rev Match||

    He also insists that AirPooler is "a thing that the world doesn’t need and 99 percent of it could never use!"

    'Small businesses'. What are they?

  • pmains||

    a round-trip flight from Palo Alto, California to Sacramento this weekend for under $180

    For roughly $25, you can drive round trip from Palo Alto to Sacramento. I suppose you would save some time, but not that much. Oh, and you would have your car in Sacramento in case you wanted to, you know, do anything on your exciting weekend without coughing up for a cab. I get the idea, but this is a weird example.

  • ||

    I can't wait for a pilot from Meacham "International" to post a flight on here. It has been a goofy dream of mine to take a flight from Meacham.

  • Agammamon||

    This week a service called Airpooler is launching on the East Coast. Last week it got off the ground on the West Coast.

    How about next time just give us a link to the thing being talked about, rather than a link to another article talking about the same thing you're article is already covering?

  • ryanpaul||

    I would say there is a market for such a thing. ImagineAir is a growing company attempting to accomplish the same model but complying with federal regulations: 1200 hr minimum pilots, aircraft under part 135 maintenance, etc... and (drum roll) anyone can fly on their empty legs for less than $100 in many cases.

    http://standby.flyimagineair.com/flights/

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