After such a rotten year for many sports fans in 2020, they probably deserve a treat. Shut out of sports stadia for much of the year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, they couldn’t even get together to watch any live action in bars, pubs or even in private groups in their own homes. But sports fans being sports fans, their loyalty to their teams and star players is such that when they are allowed to experience live sport again, they’ll be returning in droves. Professional clubs and supporters’ associations will need to be ready, and private charter flights are a fantastic way of getting fans back in the game.
Organising chartered flights is easy because specialist private aviation advisors take care of all the logistics. Just tell them what you need and when you need it and the advisors will arrange the rest.
Experienced private aviation brokers like Luna Group Charter have thousands of planes at their disposal and can call out turboprops, regional jets or large capacity airliners, depending on the number of travelling fans. Booking for larger groups is the most cost-effective way of flying privately and, as we’ll explore in a moment, charter flights are not just more comfortable, more flexible, more practical and hassle-free, they can also make sense from a financial point of view.
Firstly, let’s take a look at why 2021 promises to be a bumper year for sports travel if (and it’s a big ‘if’) the world manages to emerge from Covid lockdowns and restrictions.
There may never be such a thing as a ‘post-Covid’ world but it is expected (and much hoped) that 2021 will at least see the lifting of restrictions when it comes to sports fans and supporters being allowed to attend their favourite events.
Some partial restrictions may remain in place, allowing only limited numbers of fans back into sporting arenas. In this scenario, which we’ll look at in a bit more detail later, private charter air travel will provide a safer option than commercial flying for travelling fans.
For now, though, let’s be optimistic and assume that sport will return to pre-Covid normalcy next year. Given all the postponements of 2020, there will be plenty to catch up on: among the major events to be rescheduled to 2021 are the Tokyo Olympics, the UEFA European Football Championships, golf’s Ryder Cup and the T20 Cricket World Cup. Add those global events to an already-packed regular calendar of domestic and international sport and it promises to be quite a fun and busy time for sports aficionados!
Starved of live action for most of this year, sports fans and supporters will be champing at the bit to see their beloved teams and superstars take to the field again. What’s more, after all those long months of being confined at home, they’ll be itching for the chance to spread their wings and not just fly, but fly in style. Private aviation brokers such as Luna Group Charter can help them do exactly that and it’s not always as expensive as one might think...
Before moving on to the more evident benefits of booking private charters, it’s worth dispelling the myth that doing so is far beyond the means of the average sports fan. If a professional club, sports federation or supporters’ association organises chartered flights for fans and supporters, it may in fact save them money.
In 2019, Liverpool Football Club and Tottenham Hotspur qualified for the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid. Fans of both teams rushed to book their flights, only to find that prices with commercial airlines, even budget carriers, had shot up to more than £1,300 for a return trip. Hotels in Madrid also radically raised their rates to over £1,000 for the night of the final. Those who found a seat on a chartered flight (and who didn’t need a hotel as the flight brought them home after the match) were able to pay less for a much more bespoke and higher-quality service.
Of course, it isn’t just the guarantee of price stability that makes private chartered aviation a more appealing option to supporters than commercial flying. There are many reasons why chartered flights leave loyal fans of all sports feeling special...
Safety first. Cast aside the cheerful optimism just for a moment. Imagine Covid-19 is still a threat throughout next year but to a lesser extent that allows some supporters and fans into events at reduced capacity. Let’s say that in the interests of social distancing, a stadium must have two empty seats for every seat that is occupied. Fans can still travel, even if fewer of them can do so.
Travellers flying on private charters have a much-reduced chance of contracting any virus than those on commercial aircraft because they will be exposed to far fewer touch points.
A commercial customer will encounter around 700 virus contamination touch points between the departure terminal and the destination. In private aviation, using private terminals with no large crowds and no queues at security, that figure falls to as low as 20 touch points. Also, brokers can deploy large aircraft that allow for passengers to remain socially distanced. This inherent safety feature is thought to be one reason why private aviation has attracted record numbers of first-time customers since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Flying by private charter is a more flexible option than commercial aviation because the private customer has a greater choice of destination airports and closer control over the schedule.
Take the example of a Scottish rugby supporter travelling from Glasgow to Paris to watch his team in a Six Nations evening match against France. Flying commercially on the day of the game, that supporter would have to arrive at the departure airport two hours before take-off in order to stand in line at check-in or security. Landing at, say, Charles de Gaulle airport, that supporter then faces another queue at customs control and potentially another at baggage reclaim before braving either the Paris Metro or Paris traffic to reach the stadium. That’s already perhaps four hours of time spent in transit. The next available commercial flight back to Glasgow leaves the following lunchtime, meaning a whole morning spent getting to the airport and waiting in more queues at Charles de Gaulle, before waiting in line once more at passport control in Glasgow in the afternoon.
Private charter flights are much more nimble. A Scottish rugby fan flying privately can turn up at the airport less than half an hour before take-off and still not have to worry about missing the flight. As private aircraft can use smaller airports, the chartered aircraft touches down at Paris Le Bourget. After a quick check of the passport in a quiet, private terminal, all that remains is the short (7.5-kilometre) drive from Le Bourget to Stade de France. The return flight does not need to adhere to rigid commercial schedules so could, if that’s what the organiser decided, fly the supporter back to Glasgow a few hours after the match. This flexibility means more time to soak up the atmosphere before kick-off and perhaps enjoy a couple of pints afterwards and still be home by sunrise the following day.
The above example describes just one return flight. In cases of multiple flights, the lost hours really begin to add up. A Welsh football supporter wanting to follow his team all the way in the European Championships may well find the route from the group stage to the final passes from Baku to London via Rome, Amsterdam, Bilbao and Munich. Even if there were no delays, cancellations or strikes, that Welsh football fan would still be mightily envious of those who’d taken a private charter organised by the national football association or a supporters group.
The strict baggage rules of commercial airlines don’t necessarily apply to private charters, which comes in very handy if passengers don’t intend to travel lightly. A golf society, for instance, may decide to charter a plane to travel to an event of the European Tour, PGA Tour or even the biennial drama that is the Ryder Cup. Watching all that golf would almost certainly give the society members the appetite for a round or two themselves. With a chartered flight, they would be able to travel not just with their own golf bags, but perhaps even their own electric golf caddies.
It’s not just about large items either. Restrictions on creams and liquids as well as electronic devices are less strict on charters than on commercial routes.
Lifelong supporters deserve some reward for their loyalty. A chartered flight can provide them with an unforgettable experience that serves to strengthen even further the bond between supporter and club. Whether their favourite team is competing in football’s Champions League, rugby’s Champions Cup or basketball’s Euroleague, supporters are often willing to travel great distances to cheer on their team abroad.
Private group charters offer a great opportunity to give supporters a bespoke and unique experience. Professional clubs or supporters networks and associations can ask brokers like Luna Group Charter to lay on a special service to remind the fans how valued they are. From the decor and in-house entertainment to the catering and cabin lay-out of the aircraft, the adventure is tailored to the needs of the passengers.
In an aircraft dedicated to the fans of one club, the atmosphere builds even before take-off. By the time the game starts, the travelling contingent of supporters are in full voice and great form, ready to get behind their team and perhaps even give the players that little extra they need to win.
It took a global pandemic to keep sports fans away from their beloved teams. Throughout the Covid lockdowns, curfews and stadium bans, those fans have been aching to get back in the stands to sing their support and urge their heroes forward. By booking private charters, sports clubs, associations and fan clubs can elevate the match experience of loyal supporters and give them all they need - safety, time, convenience and peace of mind - to ensure that away day trips are magical moments that will live long in the memory.