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Old 08-02-2010, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Houston, Tx
3,644 posts, read 5,574,776 times
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This past weekend (7/30/2010) I flew Continental airlines from Houston, TX (IAH) to Miami, Fl (MIA) with the intention of flying my small single-engine plane back to Houston (AXH). I thought I'd share the experience and compare and contrast the two trips.
First, flying commercially is almost always cheaper than flying your own plane. My one-way ticket was $169 (plus about $60 for airport shuttles and other things I needed). The flight back in my plane used about 35 gallons and at $4.14 a gallon thats $144.90 plus $2 for oil. Of course that doesn't count expenses related to maintenence that might occur due to parts wearing out, etc.
Speed is the next big difference. The commercial flight was supposed to be 2 hours and 14 minutes but we ended up waiting over a half hour for the pilots to arrive from a connecting flight. It was really hot during that time because the AC was not blowing cold air (it was blowing air but it was warm air). My flight time in my plane was 6.5 hours-- the longest flight I've flown. However, if you count time at security and the whole "arrive at the airport X minutes before your flight" the differnce wasn't so bad; it ended up being about twice as long. If I hadn't had a direct flight the times would have been even closer.
Seat comfort can't compare. In the commercial plane I had a window seat and had a couple sitting next to me. Everyone knows what coach-class seats are like so I don't need to describe that. In my plane I recline at a 20 degree angle with my legs stretched out in front of me. Each arm is on an arm rest, one hand on the side-stick and hte other inches away from the throttle. With a good noise-cancelling headset its even quieter than a commercial plane. No comparison for comfort.
View: I can't really give an apples to apples comparison here as the commerical flight was at night time. The view of flying into Miami at night is really wonderful though. A city of a million lights is a thing of beauty (unless you are an astronomer and then it is considered light pollution). On my flight back in my plane I was at 8k to 12k feet and the view was very nice too, although some of it was over water or clouds. Past fights have given better views.
In-flight snacks and service: Continental gave a small bag of pretzals and free soft drinks (I ordered a ginger ale but got seltzer instead, which they corrected when I pointed out the mistake). Free drinks are becoming a think of the past on airlines so hats off to Continental for still giving the free ones. On my flight back I brought some cashews, grapes, combos, and two bottles of water. Now we come to the reason my wife will not fly long distance trips with me: there is no restroom on a small plane. You really need to make sure you go before the trip. If not, your coices are to land at an airport inroute and take extra time or use one of the portable devices they make for that purpose Fortunately, I haven't had to resort to that yet.
In summary:
Commercial pros: (usually) chepaer for a single traveler, faster (Much faster if you have a direct flight), unlimited restroom breaks

Private plane pros: comfort, greater flexability for trip planning (I never charge myself a cancellation fee ), greater option of airports (many of which are closer to your destination than the big commercial airport), better view (10k feet vs. 35k), and (IMHO) its more fun because I prefer to do the flying myself.
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Old 08-02-2010, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Viña del Mar, Chile
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rogerbacon,since when do you live in houston?
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Old 08-02-2010, 05:36 PM
 
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
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What kind of plane do you fly? 6GPH thats amazing! Pretty hard to believe though. MIA-IAH would in 6.5 hours you will have to be crusing around 125knots. Not sure if I ever heard of a plane that cruises at 125KIAS with a fule burn of about 5-6GPH at that speed and that type of range. And that is a direct great cirlce route which I am sure you didnt follow.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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Me neither. 6 GPH is really low for 125 kts ground speed, if you did the math right. Plus comfort wise I MUCH PREFER the back of a commercial jet to a small piston job any day. Noise canceling headset? For 6+ hours? Hmm, no. Small piston planes suck, I should know I have 2000 hours in them!

Especially this time of year, you would be sweating your nuts off in a Cessna at that latitude.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:49 PM
 
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
4,836 posts, read 10,223,702 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelsup View Post
Me neither. 6 GPH is really low for 125 kts ground speed, if you did the math right. Plus comfort wise I MUCH PREFER the back of a commercial jet to a small piston job any day. Noise canceling headset? For 6+ hours? Hmm, no. Small piston planes suck, I should know I have 2000 hours in them!

Especially this time of year, you would be sweating your nuts off in a Cessna at that latitude.
I mean I have heard of 6gph in some sport light aircraft even at around 120knots but MIA-IAH is 836NM so 6.5/836= 128knots then 35gallons in 6.5 hours is actually 5.4GPH! An aircraft with the range of a minnum of 836nm and a cruise speed of 128knots does not get 5.4gph. Even if the plane made a stop in route so no flying over the gulf which I doubt anyone with common sense would fly a single engine plane over the gulf the math does not add up at all.

So what type of plane is it that you are getting this amazing numbers in?

As for comfort, it depends IMO. Flying in a in 172 yes I perfer commercial jet. But in a nice new C206 like a friend of mine has with a G1000 and a FANTASTIC Air Condition system I will take the C206 over any coach seat.
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Houston, Tx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burgler09 View Post
rogerbacon,since when do you live in houston?
Hi Burgler09, yeah I moved to Houston on June 30 to start a new job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyMIA View Post
What kind of plane do you fly?
My plane is a O-320 powered Long-EZ.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelsup View Post
Me neither. 6 GPH is really low for 125 kts ground speed, if you did the math right. Plus comfort wise I MUCH PREFER the back of a commercial jet to a small piston job any day. Noise canceling headset? For 6+ hours? Hmm, no. Small piston planes suck, I should know I have 2000 hours in them!

Especially this time of year, you would be sweating your nuts off in a Cessna at that latitude.
My flight started at 7:00 AM and it was cool the whole time I was above 3k feet. At 10k it was very cool. I also have a slap-on sun screen I can move around and block the sun if needed (it wasn't).
My flight was TMB-CTY-ASD (waypoint only, not landing)-AXH. That's 928 NM, not counting a little more at the end as I went South around Hobby's class B airspace. My average speed was between 140 and 150 kts at 2400 RPMs (i.e. eased back and taking it slow). I can typically cruise at 160 kts but the fuel burn would be higher. I chose a slower speed to save fuel. There were no headwinds or tail winds the entire trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyMIA View Post
I mean I have heard of 6gph in some sport light aircraft even at around 120knots but MIA-IAH is 836NM so 6.5/836= 128knots then 35gallons in 6.5 hours is actually 5.4GPH!
As for comfort, it depends IMO. Flying in a in 172 yes I perfer commercial jet. But in a nice new C206 like a friend of mine has with a G1000 and a FANTASTIC Air Condition system I will take the C206 over any coach seat.
Part of the comfort of the Long-EZ comes from the fact that the seat is reclined, your legs are stretched out in front of you, and your arms are on arm rest much like sitting in a Lazy-Boy recliner. It is VERY different than a Cessna 172. Temperature wise it was quite comfotable and I didn't even open the air vents until I decended for landing.
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:25 AM
 
11,256 posts, read 43,612,435 times
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While I envy the low fuel consumption and high speeds of the Long EZ for distance travel, it simply won't haul the loads I need into the back country wilderness strips or on my Rocky Mountain regional sales trips that my old 182 can haul.

Point to point, commercial service is only efficient and effective when & where it has the passenger volume and airport facilities to support it. I live in a region of the country that isn't well served, so my own aircraft of modest cruise speed (substantially slower than a Long-EZ) more than pays for itself in travel efficiency. For regional recreation travel, the commercial flyers aren't even in the same league.

When it comes to major city destinations, commercial efficiency and economics wins out unless I can fill 3 seats on my private flight in favorable flying conditions; ie, no major headwinds to my destination which add hours and fuel expense to a trip. Total time enroute, of course, is always an issue if I'm on a tight schedule and must be at my destination at a given time.

"time to spare? go by air"

Last edited by sunsprit; 08-03-2010 at 11:34 AM..
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:50 PM
 
Location: Houston, Tx
3,644 posts, read 5,574,776 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
While I envy the low fuel consumption and high speeds of the Long EZ for distance travel, it simply won't haul the loads I need into the back country wilderness strips or on my Rocky Mountain regional sales trips that my old 182 can haul.
Yeah, the Long-EZ has very limited cargo area. Of course, that saves me money too because when we go on vacation my wife can't buy too much stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelsup View Post

Especially this time of year, you would be sweating your nuts off in a Cessna at that latitude.
Oh, one more thing. My wife cooked and froze about a week's worth of food for me. When I reached Houston it was still frozen solid so, no, it wasn't hot up there at all.
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Old 08-03-2010, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Miami/ Washington DC
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Wow I never heard of the plane! Learn a new thing everyday. Looks like a pretty good one for just personal flying. Sounds like a cool flight.
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:26 AM
 
14 posts, read 19,947 times
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Hi Rogerbacon,
WOW!!!!!!!!!
Your wife cooked the food for you? You are such a lucky guy, she cooked in Miami and you ate them in Houston, what a wonderful feeling.
I guess your wife love you so much, but how come you don't want to buy her more stuff when you are on vacation? You seems like a bit cheap to her. Please be nice to her.
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