The Future of Air Travel for the Transgender Community

The Future of Air Travel for the Transgender Community
By: Christina Adams

NOTE from Jon: There is a link to a Survey at the end of this Article. I took it myself and it took me well under 5 minutes, so don’t hesitate to take the Survey if time is your main consideration.

Today?s world of globetrotting has some interesting consequences associated with it, especially for us Transgender Girls. Among others, is the added security since the 9/11 Attacks back in 2001. With those attacks, security has increased with almost all forms of travel. Boarders are more closely guarded, train passengers undergo more scrutiny, cars can be randomly stopped and inspected and airport security has increased to near ridiculous proportions. Considering all of this, is there any simple way for those with special needs to travel, which will decrease some, if not all of this hassle?

The answer is actually a simple yes. There is one industry in the US today, though while regulated, is relatively hassle free, at least from a passenger perspective. That industry is the FAA Part 135 and Part 121 Air Charter business. It is with that in mind that you are reading this.

Every year, there are a number of very high profile events, which many of you attend. These may range from the Be-All in Chicago to the IFGE Conference in Philadelphia to California Dreamin? in San Jose or even the Southern Comfort Convention in Atlanta, and that is just a very small sampling. Now unless you are fortunate to live in any of these places, you most likely had to travel to get there, and for some of these, I am guessing that you flew in. You probably live about forty-five minutes to an hour from your nearest Commercial Airport, so let?s start there.

Let us take the Southern Comfort Convention in Atlanta as our example. And for this example, let us assume that you live in Philadelphia. It will take you about 45 minutes, using the roads available to get to the Philadelphia International Airport. According to their latest metrics, even for Domestic flight you should arrive at least an hour and a half in advance to make it through Security in time for your flight. They will of course take an interest in anything they think is odd, so say hello to questions about breast forms, wigs and most of your makeup won?t even be going with you on the plane since the TSA has passed their new rules. Already we are looking at two hours and fifteen minutes to just get to this point. With the current departure delays at Philadelphia International, you will be waiting an additional thirty to forty five minutes past your scheduled departure time. That puts you at three hours, and you haven?t even left the first Airport yet. Most likely, you will spend another thirty minutes on the ground in the airplane. So by the time you?re finally airborne, you will have basically been ?traveling? for three and a half hours already. The flight down there is approximately two to three hours partially depending on weather, but let?s be kind and say two. You will spend at least fifteen to twenty minutes on the ground before you even get to a gate and another ten before you de-plane. You?re now at six hours and you?re not even at out of an airport yet. Next, you have to wait for your luggage. Atlanta-Hartsfield is actually fairly good in that respect, and most likely you will have a forty five minute wait maximum. You are now ready, after six hours and forty five minutes, to leave the airport. You will spend about five minutes waiting for a taxi, and then about twenty to thirty minutes to get to the Hotel, depending on what time you arrive, and we?ll be kind. You finally get to the Hotel and realize that you have now been traveling for seven hours and ten minutes. But what option did you have? Let?s compare this to a flight on a Charter Air Service.

Same situation. You are going to Southern Comfort from Philadelphia. Well, you actually live in the Northeast section of Philadelphia, so you are only fifteen minutes from the Philadelphia Northeast Airport, and the Charter company will gladly pick you up there. You arrive at the airport, and drive to the parking, where the pilot or co-pilot greets you at the adjacent terminal building and escorts you out to the plane. There, the pilot places your luggage in the luggage compartment and helps you board the aircraft. You are the last of the 8 passengers to arrive, and once you are onboard, the pilot shuts the door, and gives you a safety briefing. From the time you left your home to now, approximately forty five minutes total has elapsed. You will spend another fifteen to twenty on the ground at Philadelphia Northeast while the pilot starts the plane and taxi?s to a runway. By the time your wheels leave the ground, approximately an hour and five minutes has passed. You are onboard a turbo-prop, so your speed is comparable to the jets you would fly normally. You fly down toward Atlanta, but rather than land at Atlanta-Hartsfield, you continue on to Fulton Field. Your flight time was two to three hours again depending on weather, but again, let?s be kind and say two. Once on the ground, it takes fifteen minutes to park the plane, and another twenty to get every one off and hand them their luggage. You are now at three hours and forty minutes. The pilot points you to the terminal building, and as you enter, a driver meets you, takes your bags, escorts you to the waiting mini-bus, and drives you to the hotel, all in about another thirty minutes. You check in at the Hotel and realize that your trip only took four hours and ten minutes. You will be waiting at the hotel for at least another three hours for your friends who flew down on any one of the commercial carriers. The other hidden benefit is that you can fly dressed. You don?t need to arrive at the hotel and spend another hour or two getting ready. The reason for this is that, especially with most services, you know the pilot, or have spoken with them before. Imagine an entire TG flight crew.

This is just one example. But even on short hops, such as Philadelphia to Provincetown, MA, the benefit of Charter Air becomes apparent. There are three ways to get to Provincetown, MA. You can drive there, which is a very nice scenic three to four hour drive, once you get out on the cape, so add on an additional four to five hours to get up there from Philadelphia, and you?re looking at seven to nine hours. You could fly to Boston, rent a car and then drive, but there you?re looking at airport time (three hours if we?re generous), flight time (we?ll say an hour) and then renting a car and driving out onto the cape (three to four hours) for a total of, yet again, seven to eight hours.

So what about a Charter Air service? How would that be better? You would still need to drive, right? The answer, actually, is no, you would not. Provincetown, MA actually has an airport large enough to support many Charter Carriers. So again, you show up at the Philadelphia Northeast Airport, and same as before, it is an hour and five minutes until you are airborne. Flight time of one hour. You land and have a two to five minute cab ride to town. You have now gotten to Provincetown, MA in two hours and thirty minutes. Your friends will not be there for at least another four to five hours yet.

This article has been leading up to one very important thing, and that is the following. Some of the members here, are looking to create a Charter Air Service which will cater specifically to the transgender community. What we are doing now is checking how feasible this is. To that end, we have created a survey. This survey is online and your answers will help us in determining how much demand there is for something like this in the community. This would not only be a service for events, but for those of you who travel within the US to get various medical procedures done, or for the bands in the community, or anything and anyone who helps promote who we are, what we do and in general give us a good positive image. To help us with this, we ask that you take five minutes out of your day to take our Survey by clicking on the link below:

Click Here to take the Survey

We thank you for your time and we hope to be flying you real soon to a Transgender Event! *HUGS!*