National airlines are making cuts to the jet charters available to college and pro football teams. Bloomberg reports that these cuts are largely due to high charter demands. The result? Teams are traveling hundreds of miles by bus.
American Airlines, for example, recently reduced its NFL charters from nine planes to three.
“It made more sense to make sure we were prioritizing the regular passenger operations,” American spokesman Joshua Freed said in a statement to Bloomberg. “The best way to do that was to cut back a little on charter flying.”
But these changes are a major inconvenience to some teams, especially those at the collegiate level. Bloombergreports that West Virginia University, having moved to the Big 12 Conference, is now 850 miles from rival Iowa State. This means that to attend most away games, players will need to miss an additional day of class.
Greg Raid, chief executive of Private Jet Services, said in a statement to Bloomberg that he is receiving more calls from collegiate team coordinators requesting charters.
“They say, ‘Hey, if these airlines won’t fly the Miami Dolphins, what’s the chance they’re going to fly my college?'” he said.
For the nation’s elite, private jets offer a whole new level of comfort and convenience. In fact, a 2009 survey showed that professionals are 20% more productive while aboard a company aircraft than in the office. For professional and college athletes, flying in a plane is more comfortable and efficient. According to Bloomberg, Illinois State will be going from taking a 26-minute charter flight to a four-hour bus ride to play Iowa, as all of their charter requests were denied by major airlines.
“At the end of the day, they just don’t need us anymore,” Tim Knox, who is in charge of the team’s travel, said in a statement to Bloomberg.