Gone are the days when a six-figure check could land you unlimited first-class flights for life.
Since then, airline fares have only gone up, and coach class conditions have only gotten worse. Flying privately or on a charter is a privilege available only to a few, but a startup called Beacon wants to change that.
For $US2,000 a month, much less than other all-you-can-fly services, Beacon will give you unlimited flights between Boston, New York, Nantucket, and the Hamptons.
“Right now, it takes you three to four hours to fly anywhere,” co-founder and CEO Wade Eyerly told Business Insider in an interview. “And the variance is not how long the flight was, it’s how close you live to the airport, parking your car, and how long the security screening was — which is all process we strip out.”
All of the planes Beacon flies have less than 10 seats, meaning they aren’t subject to TSA screenings and other time-wasting airport activities. Instead, the focus is on getting business commuters in the air, and on time to their next meeting.
“There’s two kinds of frequent fliers, some fly all the time to different destinations, but some are commuters, and that’s who we serve,” said Eyerly. “We are a luxury service that saves you time.”
How did Beacon come about?
Wade Eyerly has worked in a lot of industries. The Midwesterner-turned-Texan worked in Vice President Dick Cheney’s Administration before becoming an intelligence operative in Baghdad.
“I came back two weeks before my son was born,” said Eyerly. “And my wife said ‘You know, you should think real hard about doing something else for a living. It’s time to be a dad.'”
But move on to what? An airline, apparently.
Disappointed at the difficulty of finding a job as an airline pilot, Eyerly’s younger brother convinced Wade that the two should start an airline.
So after months of working every weekend to put plans together, Eyerly and his brother gathered 25 of their closest friends and family — “anyone we thought was smart,” Eyerly joked — to see if their crazy idea to start an airline was even plausible.
Eventually, they would convince five of their friends, including a lawyer and economist at the Federal Reserve and the president of Frontier Airlines, to leave their jobs for Beacon’s West Coast precursor, known as SurfAir.
The Eyerly brothers’ first volition venture raised three rounds of capital in just six months. A product of Santa Monica-based MuckerLab startup incubator, SurfAir has now successfully flown thousands of Californians between Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco.
After a few months away from the airlines business, and quickly fed up with the banking sector, Eyerly was back at the airport again.
“We realised that we were probably in the best position on earth to give this another go,” said Eyerly. “So we went out to raise money, and the big difference was we wouldn’t buy our own planes this time.”
Rather than owning planes like a traditional airline, Beacon has partnered with Virginia-based Dynamic Aviation. Their $US400 million dollar deal includes 27 aircraft operated exclusively for Beacon.
This means Beacon can operate with much more freedom than an airline with less flying stock. Their goal is 18-20 flights a day between Boston Logan and White Plains airport in Westchester, NY.
Beacon announced Wednesday that they have raised $US7.5 million in series-A financing ahead of their launch later this summer.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Romulus Capital led the funding round, which will be used for sales, marketing, and growth.
“Travelling doesn’t need to be a cattle call kind of experience,” said Eyerly. “Frequent travellers in the Northeast Corridor are eager for options that go beyond the airline shuttles and the Acela.”