Multi-destination trip planning
By Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive, LEA
Flying privately has many advantages; the ability to create a unique itinerary and specify the finer details of your travel makes for a smoother, faster, easier journey to your destination.
Usually, the trips we arrange are reasonably straightforward from destination A to B and back again. However, we are also involved in many journeys which involve multi-destination stops. These trips have to be managed and planned with intricate detail, involving many members of the LEA team.
In 2013, LEA managed a remarkable three-week tour of south-east Asia for one of our aircraft-owner clients. The client left the UK from Bristol Airport aboard his Bombardier Challenger 300 and went on to visit many glamorous and historic destinations including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Yangon (Myanmar) and the Maldive Islands.
As well as being a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ for the owner’s family and friends, the trip also had a serious purpose with the group conducting research for a charitable trust.
The aircraft was flown by LEA’s Captain Kostas Mathioudakis and First Officer Martin Porter. The flight schedule was managed by LEA’s operations team, led by operations director Leigh Westwood. In managing the trip, Leigh and his team had to consider the elements that are encountered in all our planning activity, from the airport transfers and check-in procedures of the different destinations, to the food and drink requirements onboard – menus have to be adapted to the food that is available locally. However, in flying to destinations that LEA does not normally serve, we had to address additional issues which need to be addressed in international multi-destination trip planning:
- During pre-planning, our operations team had to ensure everyone travelling had the correct visa, inoculations and travelling permissions for each leg of the journey. We didn’t want to have to leave anyone behind!
- The safety and security of our clients is paramount. Certain international airspaces had to be avoided where geopolitical tension and issues could have been a problem.
- Planning for diversions was also of vital importance. Whilst we were lucky on this particular trip and didn’t need to divert, you always need to plan for a diversion based on the permits in place for the flights.
- Some of the smaller airfields in south-east Asia were unknown to LEA in the sense that it was the first time we had visited them. We had to investigate the facilities in advance to ensure we could easily restock, refuel and be aware of the nearest facility for maintenance assistance if required.
- Not many of the destinations had FBOs. At these locations, we contracted local agents or representatives to liaise with the crew, meet the aircraft and make sure it was secure when unattended.
- Catering for the flight could only be planned in advance to a certain extent. Whilst we could provide standard bar stock and snacks, we had to make sure we knew where to source fresh food at each destination so we could restock the aircraft.
Organising this trip for our client was an exciting and memorable challenge for LEA. It reinforced three principles which add value to our operation.
- Build a good client relationship; the better you understand your client, the better you will be able to anticipate their requirements.
- Think outside the box; multi-trip planning demands a greater number of variables and it’s important to consider every potential outcome before the journey commences.
- Have a team available 24/7; your client will want to be able to reach you around the clock, whatever time zone they are in.
From a passenger’s point of view, all the work goes on in the background to ensure everything is running smoothly and to the passenger’s schedule. Make sure your clients have everything they could possibly need for hassle-free, relaxing travel.
Published in BlueSky, 19th February 2015.
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