When we first discovered this service, HEKKTA couldn’t help thinking how is it not more well known!? Wingly is the Airbnb of aviation; the Uber of the skies! It allows you to connect with pilots around the country to essentially fly you, privately, to your destination. We investigate if all is as simple as it first seems…
If you click just here, it will take you to the Wingly website where you can see for yourself how simple it all appears. There are pilots offering flights advertising spare seats and flexible dates, and also passengers bidding for flights to the pilots for particular routes. We feel as if there is a world of private aviation that we’ve been kept out of…till now!
The idea is that often private pilots have spare seats, if your hobby is a solo venture. Therefore to keep their costs down, they offer to share the plane with passengers. Some of the trips can be for scenic purposes so they will pick you up and drop you at the same point, but you can in fact use this service like a taxi! This linked to the air taxis proposed by Uber for LA. Picking you up in London and dropping you in Bristol for example! You can even pop over to France at your leisure! This linked to the air taxis proposed by Uber for LA, which is indicating the desire to open up the aviation market.
Private aviation is usually associated with glamorous celebrities and obscene cost, but when Simon Calder, a Travel Correspondent for the Independent, took a flight from London to Bristol it cost him just £104. That is almost the same as an anytime one-way ticket from London to Bristol on GWR. Remarkable!
He described his glee as he flew over the hoards of traffic on the M1 enjoying the views of West England. After his trial of the service he was enormously complimentary as it is such a different experience to commercial flying. You are right in the front seat of an aircraft that can only carry a maximum of 4-6 people. You fly out of a tiny private airfield with nobody around, no security and no endless fragrance tunnels. You sit next to the pilot and watch him go through the checklist, securing everything and making sure you are safe to take off. You get the stunning views from the front seat and even hear the traffic controllers radioing in with your altitude, whilst you communicate back and forth with huge commerical jets.
It sounds like an incredible experience and it is actually getting you from A to B! Additionally, when you land, you don’t have to wait for ages at security and then wait more to collect your bag to find out it’s been lost. No, you simply land, get out and off you go! The experience of private aviation sounds amazing, and now it is accessible to all!
But – the service has one or two practicality issues. Well maybe four or five. The fact is the service is still very unknown in comparison to services like Uber. Therefore low demand means low supply. There are not enough pilots on Wingly to allow anybody to use it frequently, or to book exact trips on exact dates. It’s a case of hopefully someone might be able to take me sometime within the next two weeks. This isn’t ideal considering the busy lives we all lead. There are not consistent routes between specific places either like we are used to with commercial travel. So the need to be flexible with dates and loactions is a problem.
Also as the planes are just small aircrafts, they often pick you up and drop you off and very small aeroplane hangers miles from the city and miles from any decent transport links. You would ideally have someone picking you up from the drop off point in a car. So again, that isn’t ideal.
Additionally small planes are affected much more severely by weather conditions and the pilot is under no obligation to take you if he doesn’t feel it is safe. Considering we live in the UK, this is quite an issue as even the smallest bit of cloud and rain could call your trip off. So it’s not very reliable either.
At the moment it is still a bit of gimmick, best for when you want a fun day out with friends or you find a reason to go to Normandy because you see a cheap one-way flight there. It isn’t quite there yet in terms of being a viable transport option around the country. But in a few years time, as the pool of people using it increases, is there any reason why it can’t become a viable option? We don’t see why not…