(Page 2 of 2)
economy” to the higher end of the luxury scale. “Our travelers don’t want to think of themselves as using ‘’Airbnb for a jet,’ but it’s the same type of principle,” Kennedy says.
My recent trip from Houston to Dallas—where I visited Rise’s headquarters at Love Field—and back again, was seamless. I arrived a mere 15 minutes before my flight, was personally escorted onto the plane along with another pair of travelers, and offered an assortment of snacks and drinks. Compared with flights on, say, Southwest Airlines to the same destinations costing about $300 each for a frequent flier, Rise’s monthly membership can make sense, especially when you factor in the convenience.
Operating out of the general aviation side of airports, Rise follows the same security procedures in place for private and charter jets. In addition, Rise says it conducts background checks on all members and guests as part of the application process.
Rise isn’t the only company trying to usher in a new frontier in private jet travel. Texas Air Shuttle, which is based in Conroe, TX, just north of Houston, is waiting for FAA approval for its own “all-you-can-fly” service. The company uses Beechcraft King Air 200 jets that can seat seven, with memberships that start at $899 and go up to $4,800 for unlimited monthly flying, according to its website.
New York-based Wheels Up also sees opportunity in Texas. Offering memberships for both individuals and families, as well as corporate rates, it began flying out of Dallas earlier this year.
Still, others have found entering the market to be more turbulent. AirPooler had pilot runs in California for its service that matched extra seats on private planes with travelers willing to pay for them. But a year ago, the FAA ruled that the service was illegal.
Looking forward, Kennedy says Rise is working on a licensing arrangement with a British carrier that would essentially take Rise’s business model international, starting with flights to Brussels. Closer to home, the company, which currently only has service on weekdays, is planning on adding “fun flights” to New Orleans; Austin; or Vail, CO; to capture some of the holiday market. All the while, Kennedy says, Rise is analyzing traffic data to determine which flights, days, or times are popular so it can adjust the schedule accordingly. Down the line, Rise may offer memberships at different levels, depending on which days a person wants to fly.
The focus on technology makes sense considering the backgrounds of both Kennedy and his Rise co-founder Clynt Taylor. The men have worked together for about a decade, largely in healthcare technology-related companies, including leadership roles at NantHealth, the healthIT company founded by Los Angeles billionaire entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong.
As Kennedy and I spoke of his background in leveraging technology in some fairly bureaucratic industries (think healthcare and aviation), we got the attention of a fellow passenger, David Lindsey, a healthcare entrepreneur himself. He said he saw a Rise ad in a magazine and quickly decided to put down his $750 deposit.
The men exchanged stories of building and selling healthcare companies, and Kennedy said that an unexpected outcome of the Rise flights was how they became great opportunities for like-minded executives and entrepreneurs to share ideas.