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747 charter for potential NWA DO: please read and respond to survey

747 charter for potential NWA DO: please read and respond to survey

 
Old Aug 13, 07, 5:15 pm
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747 charter for potential NWA DO: please read and respond to survey

Update 9/5/07

There are five milestones that we need to achieve to make this enterprise happen.
1. Demonstrate sufficient interest to NWA Charter - DONE
2. Obtain feasible quotes from NWA Charter - DONE
3. Open escrow account with agreed structure and open up flight to non-FT members through non-FT website - next step
4. Set cutoff date for contributions/flight date - TBA
5. Reach agreed GO threshold - TBA

Here are some procedural details that all pledges should be aware of. I know there's lots to read here but bear with us. The Committee has been, and will continue to be, completely open about the workings of this enterprise because it's the only way we can work together in trust.

An overage beyond the minimal charter coverage cost will need to be put into escrow. We've discussed this with NWA Charter and because of fuel price volatility, the actual cost of charter cannot be guaranteed until it runs. The operation is highly sensitive to this problem, so we would face a serious problem if fuel went up by 10 or 15% between now and then. At worst, we'd have 350 people show up and then be unable to fly unless someone would pay the difference out of personal accounts. This isn't going to happen, so we need a structure that protects all of us against this eventuality.

If fuel costs fell, then of course all pledges will receive their overage back, plus whatever the fuel cost change means. If they increase but are within the overage threshold, then all members will receive their overage minus the additional fuel expenditure. Either way, we run the Charter. The structure of the operation has to be as firm as possible because everyone is committed to coming to MSP to originate.

Please bear in mind, nobody affiliated with the Committee is making a dime out of any of this. We just want to make it happen without financial fallout for any members. A ballpark overage of 20% above charter cost has been mooted.

To date we have about one third of the number of pledges we need, as a minimum. It is likely that once a firm date has been established and the escrow is set up, we'll see more commitment from FT and outside. We are pressing on with publicizing the enterprise outside of FT. It would of course be ideal to have a completely FT-only charter but the numbers suggest we can't make this work.

But, on the bright side, since we may not need an absolutely full load to GO based on current WTP figures, then we may be able to avoid a completely full middle-seat flight, or we may assign middle seats to non-FT members.... Schmutzig has been inventorying various partial no-middle-seat options for the flight and there are several ways we can make it work.

We at the Committee are now talking with Boeing about options for a BFI/Everett event associated with this flight. Ideally we could put together a package that would be the most fun that any FT member could want.

One more thing. We're in this for the long haul...after all, this is a 747 we're talking about. Updates will be posted periodically, so keep it at the back of your minds. One day, things may hot up intensely, but for the moment, keep the faith. We're working on this steadily.

Update 8/28/07

Here is the following costing information provided by NWA Charter.

For BFI, assuming a full pax load, the number falls within the WTP figure stated here.

For the DTW-MEM hub tour, assuming a full pax load, the number is approximately 20% less than WTP stated here.

For the DTW hop, assuming a full pax load, the number is approximately 40% less than WTP stated here.


NOTE: Cost per capita scales up approximately proportionately as the passenger numbers decline.

The total cost of the charter will be comprised of :

Base fee (Aircraft charter cost, crew and fuel including a charter loadmaster to supervise the operation. This is quoted at the rate prevailing 8/24/07 and it can move up or down depending on oil price at time of charter).

Tax (percentage of base charter fee)

Passenger Facility Charges (per capita)

Segment Charges (per capita)

Crew duty time has been figured in these quotes as follows:

BFI: four hours on the ground

DTW/MEM hub tour: 2 hours each plus 45 mins boarding

DTW: 4 hrs ground time

Extra time will incur costs beyond the current figures.

This figure includes a "box lunch" type service likely including a hoagie, fruit, chips and a candy bar.

I ask all members to consider that NWA Charter is working with us in good faith to make this unique event happen. Their figures are very reasonable. Yes, we may want to negotiate on aspects of the flight, but let's keep working to expand enrolment and make this happen. We can't do it without your help.

8/23/07

Calling all pledges: please circulate this link and invite friends/colleagues/family/interested parties to pledge!

As the rate of pledging slows here on FT, I'm putting out feelers to other organizations and potential participants including retired aircrew aviation enthusiasts. This is just the start of a process that could take some months. Rest assured that we at the Committee are dedicated to making this happen, if at all feasible given the membership WTP. After all, if pax-driven 747 charters were easy, everyone would be doing it

NWA Charter have been contacted and have agreed to provide firmer figures for three destination options. This is the next step. They are doing so because they see this idea is more than just a wild fantasy given the great initial response we have here. Keep it coming.

Pledges: 131
WTP fare (arithmetic mean, Y class): 378.84. Does not include any figures for WTP for J. Therefore these estimates are conservative.

To be counted as a pledge, simply posting to this thread will not suffice. I am only counting those who directly stated a. how much they were prepared to pay for Y and b. yes to the escrow idea.

Favorite destinations: vote counting suspended to maintain focus on enrolment and WTP. Please continue to note them in the thread, but as Schmutzig says, debating their merits with one another is premature for this purpose. The range of destinations will depend on the total number of people who are willing to fly, multiplied by how much they are willing to pay i.e. the total revenue base we can generate. In any case, those who have not pledged willingness to pay and fly will not be counted.

J/Y: we don't have a scheme for allocation yet. But if the flight is economically feasible with fewer than a full load (430 pax) then we might be able to avoid sitting too many in middle seats. Again, it depends on number of pledges and WTP.

For those already pledged. Please spread the word and recruit interested parties! This is shaping up into a very real possibility. I will soon be talking to NWA Charter to request more specific information on costings. From the information I have gleaned from other 747 charter operators, this proposal might be more feasible than some people think.

Suitable time frame: next spring/early summer - depending on a potential NWA DO.

Calling redtail fliers!
A number of us are working on two things: encouraging NWA to host a DO, and chartering a redtail 747 during this DO for a day trip. Note: NWA have not agreed to host such a DO, yet, but discussions will be ongoing. This post deals with chartering the 747 and does not address the potential DO. However, the trip is contingent on the DO going ahead.

I've been talking with NWA's Charter department about this, but at this stage I and my colleagues have reached a point where we need membership input.

First, why do this? Because it would be...EXCITING! Because, in the words of a loyal NW PE, "As I look back at past DOs that have been had, I'm seeing that something of this magnitude could really go down in FT history. The COFT DOs have been pretty amazing (from what I've read), but I think putting this together might take the cake." Because, this would be something special.

Why 747? A 747 is the right choice. Except for UA, the other guys don't have them. The event needs to be grandiose or it's not worth doing - yes, maybe a 319 would be more feasible, but, how feeble it would be! And it could be a 742 "retirement" flight celebration for many redtail fliers Also, NWA Charter have not offered other machines so bear in mind, we're talking about WTP for a 74G here.

Survey
Here are the survey questions. Please respond to this thread with your answers to 1, 2 and 3.

1. How much will you pay for a day trip in a chartered 747?
We already know that it must be simultaneous with an NWA do. It will be a 74G out of MSP - according to NWA Charter, this is how it needs to happen.

2. Are you prepared to put this money into an escrow account managed by a Committee chosen from NWA FT members?
If the plan works, we fly; if it doesn't go ahead, all monies are refunded in full to all members.

3. Where would you like it to go?
Clearly, the further it goes, the more it will cost. SEA/BFI for a Boeing tour and an NWA hub tour with special events at DTW and MEM are among the popular choices. Other ideas include ANC or LAS or FL, or another airline's hub..maybe an ORD/ATL "invasion" by the NWA 747 followed by 430 NW FT folks packing out the Crown Rooms or the bars opposite the UA RCCs!

I don't have figures for costings, and NWA won't provide these unless we can demonstrate a structure that protects them i.e. we guarantee their "backstop" figure. Whether we can make this happen at all will depend on how much we're willing to pay. So, let's find out.

We're in the early stages here. So, please understand we don't have a timeframe for a potential DO. But we can safely assume that the earliest it could happen would be next year sometime.

The key questions are a. whether we (the membership) can develop a structure that provides the financial backstop security requested by NWA and b. how much money we can raise. Your responses will answer the questions raised by the NWA Charter department and help us establish the feasibility of the operation. We are certainly hoping that we can put together a sound financial case for the charter, but if we can't do it, so be it.

Add: if we can get 200 pledges here, i.e. almost half a full pax load, the Committee will propose escrow account details, and set the account up. Once we're agreed on the accounting structure, and a ballpark figure, those who deposit money will be polled in a second round regarding destinations within the financial orbit and other procedural matters. It seems fair that those who participate can shape the event in these ways. We hope that others will be encouraged to sign up once this happens.

Another aspect is, if the membership shows this level of commitment to the charter, it would demonstrate good faith to the NWA leadership and encourage them to table a complete DO. We can really encourage this to go ahead.

The D10 retirement flight was a great event, but it was nothing like the scale of this proposal.

Concerns
The Committee is noting your concerns. For example, we will do our utmost to persuade NWA to make your MSP access easier with facilities like:

Special codes for guaranteed Perksaver awards from your airport to MSP for this event.
Double EQM for those who fly to MSP on paid NW fares.
Discount e-certs a la CO.

The experience will be much richer than a "normal" flight and you will not regret spending the money on it. I (and others) spent more than double what we're discussing here to fly in Y on the D10 retirement flight and it was the best ticket value of the year, MR or no. The HNL staff and flight crew on our D10 flight enjoyed the event just as much as we did and we're hoping this will be even better.

We will try to ensure extra value for you in small but significant ways. We want to honor (reasonable) individual requests that will make this event more special for you. For example, florin wishes to make the announcement "First Class has checked in full" for our flight (which I hope can be designated NW 747/742 or vice versa). If this goes ahead, the Committee guarantees that florin will take the mike at the Gate and make this announcement to all us FTers! So, if you have a special request of this nature that NWA can accede to and that does not violate Federal regs, then make it here and it will be noted in the spreadsheet beside the other details.

Other touches will really engage NW fliers. For example, a brief history of the machine will be presented and we'll have our flight crew introduce themselves to us at the Gate. The experience will be much more personal and involving than a "normal" flight. Imagine the cheering when florin makes the F announcement! On board, nobody will miss IFE; it's a great chance to talk with fellow FTers and crew.

The more people who pledge, the more likely these things are to happen. With your participation, this could be a historic occasion, and certainly the greatest FT event ever.

Redtail fliers and FT members, we have the enthusiasm and commitment, so let's make it happen! Thanks in advance for your support!

Last edited by redtailshark; Sep 11, 07 at 4:28 pm Reason: More details added
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:33 pm
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I would be interested but have a number of questions:

1 - how many people would we need to make this happen?

2 - Who determines seating? I know that most of the FTers on this board would not be happy with middle coach seats in a 744/742 (including myself).

3 - who determines who gets biz class seating? Less important for short hops, but much more if flight is over say 1 hour.

In response to your questions:
1 - the price I'd be willing to pay would be based on distance. It's a very difficult question to answer. Let's assume we get 400 people to buy into this. If eveyone paid $300 for it, we're only dealing with $120k...I seriously doubt that would be enough for a charter. Would most likely be double or triple that which would make it unaffordable for most of us.

2 - Yes, but things would have to be spelled out pretty specifically in a contract of sorts.

3 - I like the idea of a lakeside cookout somewhere (provided there was a vegetarian option). If it's wintertime, how about a hop to somewhere sunny (FL?) for an oceanside cookout??

Without knowing how much it would cost to charter a 744/742, it's going to be very difficult to put numbers together. If it's within reason, definitely count me in!
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:34 pm
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o.k... I'll be the first to admit my ignorance. I have no idea what "DO" is.

Diamond Offshore Drilling?

Dominican Republic?

Distinguished Others?
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:41 pm
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Originally Posted by yogimax View Post
o.k... I'll be the first to admit my ignorance. I have no idea what "DO" is.

Diamond Offshore Drilling?

Dominican Republic?

Distinguished Others?
DO = "Get together" (something to DO) for FT'ers in this case.
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by yogimax View Post
o.k... I'll be the first to admit my ignorance. I have no idea what "DO" is.

Diamond Offshore Drilling?

Dominican Republic?

Distinguished Others?
An FT DO refers to a gathering of FTers of Dubious Origin.

Actually, a DO is FT shorthand for a social gathering of FTers. It can be as informal as meeting someone at an airport lounge for a drink between flights or as structured as the CO annual IAH DO organized by cigarman. Check out the CO board for more info on that and CommunityBuzz for more info generally..

I think this is a terrific idea, if we can get the financing together. I'm not sure I can be there - I'm wrapping up my degree and looking for work - but if I can do it, I definitely will.^
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:51 pm
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1. I guess I'm cheap, but I probably wouldn't drop more than a few hundred for the charter. Even with a mostly full plane, I'm not sure if it would be enough to pay the cost of the charter. And no EQM!?!

2. No problem with this.

3. Location depends on season, of course. For me, I travel enough, and as much as I like to fly (most of the time), I'm not sure another trip on this charter is something I'd want. Particularly since I'd be flying into MSP for the DO. It would be cool to fly on the 742 one more time, but I might enjoy just an in-depth tour and walk through of the plane, rather than going to the significant expense of the charter.

RTS, thanks for your efforts, this sounds exciting!
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Old Aug 13, 07, 5:56 pm
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1. How much will you pay for a day trip in a chartered 747?
We already know that it must be simultaneous with an NWA do, and it will be a 74G out of MSP.
Cold hard cash -- zippo.

Miles (for 2) 50 (coach)-100K (F), maybe more for a really exotic destination
2. Are you prepared to put this money into an escrow account managed by a Committee chosen from NWA FT members?
Would commit miles, not $.
3. Where would you like it to go?
Open to almost anything.
Problem I see here is emphasis on $$$. A substantial # of people who attend DO's do so on award tickets and/or use vouchers, and travel on partners rather than the carrier hosting the DO. Obviously, partner's metal won't "do" for this mid-DO trip, but if you also eliminate use of miles and vouchers, as appears to be the case, you've excluded a large portion (probably > 50%) of your potential audience.

Last edited by MikeMpls; Aug 13, 07 at 6:07 pm
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:11 pm
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1. Well the mileage runner in me wants to answer this in cents per EQM but realize that won't work. So $300 or more is not a scary figure depended on flight length.

2. Yes

3. Where the fuel per hour budget will take us but would hope for at least 2 hours in the air. Again the MR in me says ANC or the west coast.

Good Luck RT. Great Idea and thanks for giving us the chance.
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:16 pm
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Originally Posted by avidflyer View Post
DO = "Get together" (something to DO) for FT'ers in this case.
Thanks for the answer...

Many years ago, NW hosted a couple of "DO"s in New York. One was with the band "America." We had a great time and were singing NW's praises when we left.

Would I attend a "DO" sponsored and paid for by NW? - absolutely! As a matter of fact it would be a great way for NW to improve relations with its elites.

Would I spend my own money to attend a "DO" somewhere else?

No Way!
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:24 pm
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Would I get Delta MQMs? If so, how many?
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by MikeMpls View Post
Problem I see here is emphasis on $$$. A substantial # of people who attend DO's do so on award tickets and/or use vouchers, and travel on partners rather than the carrier hosting the DO. Obviously, partner's metal won't "do" for this mid-DO trip, but if you also eliminate use of miles and vouchers, as appears to be the case, you've excluded a large portion (probably > 50%) of your potential audience.
I understand your plight. Unfortunately, I don't believe NW can afford a charter on WorldPerks redemptions alone. Hence, the more people that could be signed up, the lower the overall cost per person. Of course, if you're not willing to spend one cent, then this event probably wouldn't be for you, anyhow.

I think we must truly understand the gravity of the suggestion that redtailshark is making. Nowhere in the history of FlyerTalk or any other aviation-themed community that I'm aware of has something like this actually happened. FlyerTalk potentially has the member base and the ingenuity to pull something like this off and it could be memorable, moreso than a retirement flight. This would be our flight. Ultimately what value, if any, we individually would place on that is what likely drives our response to the proposal.

Answers to redtailshark's questions:

1. I like the idea of a Lakeshore/seaside/harborside cookout. If we could price it as sort of an all-in day trip including airfare, meals, drinks, etc. I think I might be willing to go up to $500 or so. For the airfare alone, it would be ideal if it didn't top $300. But if it were an issue of the event being a go/no-go, I could perhaps go 50% more.

2. Yes, and this is probably the most logical and safest way to do it.

3. It would be interesting to see how the cost structure would be related to the destination. I think San Diego, San Francisco, or Seattle would be wonderful destinations for a day-trip event with NW. Otherwise, closer to home, Duluth (don't knock it until you've been there) could offer a much more Northwoodsy feel and a more intimate setting, and perhaps be cheaper to swing.

This is a really great idea. I hope that it could gain some traction so that we could start dealing with real numbers to see if it's even possible to do.
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by SchmutzigMSP View Post
I understand your plight. Unfortunately, I don't believe NW can afford a charter on WorldPerks redemptions alone. Hence, the more people that could be signed up, the lower the overall cost per person. Of course, if you're not willing to spend one cent, then this event probably wouldn't be for you, anyhow.

I think we must truly understand the gravity of the suggestion that redtailshark is making. Nowhere in the history of FlyerTalk or any other aviation-themed community that I'm aware of has something like this actually happened. FlyerTalk potentially has the member base and the ingenuity to pull something like this off and it could be memorable, moreso than a retirement flight. This would be our flight. Ultimately what value, if any, we would place on that would ultimately determine our interest I think.

Answers to redtailshark's questions:

1. I like the idea of a Lakeshore/seaside/harborside cookout. If we could price it as sort of an all-in day trip including airfare, meals, drinks, etc. I think I might be willing to go up to $500 or so. For the airfare alone, it would be ideal if it didn't top $300. But if it were an issue of the event being a go/no-go, I could perhaps go 50% more.

2. Yes, and this is probably the most logical and safest way to do it.

3. It would be interesting to see how the cost structure would be related to the destination. I think San Diego, San Francisco, or Seattle would be wonderful destinations for a day-trip event with NW. Otherwise, closer to home, Duluth (don't knock it until you've been there) could offer a much more Northwoodsy feel and a more intimate setting, and perhaps be cheaper to swing.

This is a really great idea. I hope that it could gain some traction so that we could start dealing with real numbers to see if it's even possible to do.
Red Tail Shark, thanks for spearheading! To answer your questions:

1. Would be willing to put in about 500 to 600 all in.

2. No problem.

3. Anywhere would be fine. Depending on where the activities were and when it was would play a big role for me for location. MEM might be a good choice if done in winter. The upper mid-west is fine in summer!
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:37 pm
  #13  
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Count me in. $500 is DOable and I would be fine with any destination, though SFO would be nice.
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:47 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by yogimax View Post
o.k... I'll be the first to admit my ignorance. I have no idea what "DO" is.

Diamond Offshore Drilling?

Dominican Republic?

Distinguished Others?
love it! my thought exactly.

it's silly flyertalk nomenclature.
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Old Aug 13, 07, 6:49 pm
  #15  
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I love that redtailshark and you guys are thinking BIG!

If we really want to make a splash and NW wants to finally jump in with helping to sponsor or have presence at a Do, how about a Dreamliner preview Do/charter? It would be a very good gesture on NW's part to reward those of us who've been loyal thru BK and all the service issues and of course a great way for NW to get some positive buzz.

I'd pay up to $500 for a trip on a Dreamliner and trust the committee to do something good.
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