No lines. No security. No airport parking fees. And, yes, you can even bring your vanilla latte on board.

Arrow founder Russell Belden at the ticket counter at Boeing Field

Here comes Arrow, a new private jet club that’s looking to connect busy professionals in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Let’s just call it … the nerd bird.

Founded by aviation geek Russell Belden and backed by Seattle entrepreneur Andy Liu, Arrow is looking to fill a gap in the airline travel business by catering to folks who aren’t quite rich enough to own a personal jet themselves, but also can’t afford to sit in airport lobbies or stand in security lines.

“We’re not the airline for the one percent,” says Belden. “We’re about the achievers and doers, the people who want to get stuff done, and they’ve decided: ‘I am not wasting anymore of my time or life in lines.'”

Belden thinks the private club will appeal to busy professionals who make frequent trips between Seattle and the Bay Area, many of whom work in the tech industry. Attorneys, bankers and venture capitalists who conduct business in the two tech hubs are prime candidates for membership, as are executives at tech giants like Facebook, Google, Zillow and Microsoft, which have large workforces in both places.

Belden has a simple pitch to these folks: Time is money.

“We are selling freedom and time,” he says. “Once you do it, you’ll wonder: ‘why did I put up with all of that crap at the airport?’ It is not about privilege or social status or bling — it’s just that you want to get somewhere and do things.”

He believes flying Arrow will reduce travel times by as much as two hours between the Bay Area and Seattle — when factoring in things such as security lines and airport parking. Arrow will fly from Seattle’s Boeing Field where Transportation Security Administration is not required. The plane will be equipped with Wi-Fi.

One of the company’s marketing messages is: “What part of your business plan involved waiting in line?” 

As part of that mantra, Arrow plans to work with rental car companies and private driving services to make sure that ground transportation is immediately available to its members.

Now, here’s the critical question: How much does it cost to join the club?

Corporate memberships start at $500 per month, which allows a business to choose five people who can fly on Arrow’s scheduled flights between Seattle and the Bay Area. (It plans to fly at yet-to-be-determined times to both Oakland International and San Jose International, utilizing the facilities for private aircraft at both airports). After a company designates members, each individual round-trip ticket between Seattle and California will cost $1,000.

Piaggio’s Avanti II

The first 40 corporate members also will be able to add four family members to the accounts, and be able to charter the planes for $2,490 per hour.

Arrow also is running a special rate for individuals. Those memberships cost $200 per month, with the same Seattle to Bay Area ticket price of $1,000 for round-trip flights. The individual membership rate is available only to GeekWire readers, obtained by mentioning the “GeekWire Deal” when contacting the company.

If all goes as planned, Arrow also plans to offer service between Oakland/San Jose and L.A. at the $500-per-month corporate membership level, charging $600 for round-trip flights for each person.

The ticket prices may seem like a lot for those accustomed to scouring Kayak or Expedia for the latest deals. But a round-trip first-class flight between Seattle and Oakland, priced for this week, cost $824 on a commercial flight. (Economy class tickets are currently priced at $492, but have been as low as $200 in recent weeks).

Meanwhile, heavily-funded Blackjet, which has been described as the Uber for private jet travel, charges $2,500 for its annual memberships, with a one-way cross-country flight from New York to San Francisco costing more than $3,000. Using an air-charter method, Blackjet’s flights cost about $1,500 one-way between Seattle and the Bay Area.

Arrow is launching today with a test flight between Seattle’s Boeing Field and the Oakland International Airport. (GeekWire will be tagging along on the maiden voyage to see how things go, but more on that later).

Here’s the unique twist: Arrow only plans to launch service if it can attract 200 members in the first few months, at which point it will then move forward with a plan to purchase the $7 million Piaggio P180 Avanti II turboprop aircraft that it plans to fly between destinations.

Yes, Arrow is taking a Kickstarter-esque approach to getting the airline off the ground.

Belden said they should know in the first few months whether they will have enough members to support service between Seattle and the Bay Area. If all goes as planned, he hopes to officially launch later this year.

What if it doesn’t work out? Belden said that if they don’t achieve the 200-member goal, the money (to be held in escrow) will be returned to those who had secured membership.

The Avanti II is an unusual looking aircraft, a lightweight turboprop with a maximum cruising speed of 463 miles per hour. Its most distinctive characteristic is that the props sit behind the main wings, creating what the Italian aircraft maker Piaggio says is “a serene environment to relax and work in.”

“It is unlike any turboprop in the world,” said Belden. “It is as fast as a jet, but it is quieter and more efficient.”

To get the service off the ground, Arrow is partnering with Kenmore Air, the 67-year-old Seattle seaplane operator. Kenmore will hold the FAA certificate as the scheduled carrier, and pilots from the company will fly the planes on behalf of Arrow. As part of the agreement, Kenmore Air has an option to take an ownership stake in Arrow.

“There are a lot of similar interests,” said Thomas Tilson, director of flight operations for Kenmore Air.

Among those interests is developing a more efficient and comfortable way to get busy people up and down the West Coast.

“We are a flying club. We are not a lounging club,” notes Belden. “Here, you show up, you get on the plane, and you go.”

Note: I’ll be giving Arrow a try today on its initial voyage to Oakland, writing about the experience. Check back for updates, hopefully some from the in-flight wi-fi system.

Follow-up:  Joining the jet set: My first time flying on Arrow’s new private jet service

 

Comments

  • http://superkinz.com Andrew Kinzer

    So a flight from SEA to SFO costs $100 each way on Virgin America, for a total of $200 and 2 hours wasted through security (cumulatively) at the airport round trip. So if the draw is that time is money, then the time you save has to be more than the difference between the two ticket costs. If each ticket costs $1,000 round trip, then this service makes monetary sense when your time is worth $400/hr or greater? So, CEOs of large companies, maybe doctors and attorneys? Granted you’re also getting a nicer ride, but I think that balances out with the greater chances of crashing in a small plane (being honest).

    • http://www.facebook.com/hicksjoseph Joe Hicks

      $100 each way if you can buy in advance. Purchasing within the same week, you could get a middle seat for $250-$350 each.

  • keith

    Sorry, but a $1000/flight private jet club IS for the 1%. Or someone whose has a lot of VC dough and is spending like it.

  • John

    Here’s why I love this: it reduces friction between Seattle in the Valley – in a potentially out-sized way. If VCs, investors, corporate execs from the Valley can get in and out of Seattle for investment meetings, board meetings, business meetings, that’s going to be great for Seattle (and for the Valley).

    When I lived in Indianapolis (first start-up), the city was studying how to catalyze entrepreneurial activity. They found that if a city had a direct flights from SFO/SJC, it made a dramatic difference in whether a VC would even bother to consider the business. Arrow is a natural extension of reducing friction.

    Entrepreneurs may not be able to afford it, but Facebook, Google, Twitter, Sand Hill Road, HP, Microsoft, etc etc etc certainly can, and it’s likely worth a lot more than $400 an hour.

    • joewallin

      Great comment John!

  • yphilippe

    I don’t fly much but I’d be happy to pay $1,000 RT just to avoid dealing with the airport bullshit and receive decent service. $1,500 one-way from that other airline is outrageous, but I think $1,000 RT is definitely within the reach of quite few people. I hope they can pull it off!

  • http://twitter.com/cindybetty Cindy Engstrom

    Love this business, pricepoint seems right. I don’t like the “1%” comment …most 1% -ers i know work a lot as in they are do-ers and executors (and pump money back into start ups). This service would be welcome by many of them desperate to squeeze more time out of the day and not dealing with parking/transit/standing in lines at the airport or having some random person invade your work time on a plane. Go Arrow!

  • Anon Em

    So… it’s like the plane version of bottle service–for poseurs who can’t afford NetJets. I give it 6 months.

  • Pam Miller

    Are you kidding me? How many times has your Virgin flight been late at SFO? Or Alaska? Lots!
    OFCOURSE, the price may seem high for many, but given how often many people fly on “nerd bird” flights now and have to be in meetings that cannot be delayed, this is a lifesaver opportunity. if they were smart, they would team up with Uber in SJC, OAK, and in SoCal locations.
    It pays back in the way of rental car, hotel, tips and so on. Give it a chance!

  • http://twitter.com/davebei David Beitel

    Am I reading this right? They will purchase 1 aircraft for this service initially. That means they would only be able to offer service 3 (maybe 4) times a day in each direction. If there is a maintenance issue, you’re SOL. With the price and frequent schedule of direct flights (even in first class) on Alaska and United, I don’t see how they will compete with one plane.

    I also signed up for a Nexus pass which allows faster border crossing and entry in the Global Entry (Pre-TSA) program. Pre-TSA makes travel at SeaTac less hectic. An hour at SeaTac has been more than sufficient.

    In any case, I certainly wish them luck and hope they find a way to get this off the ground (pun intended).

  • Jp

    Knowledge and geniusness equally function like sun light please spread it over my earth

  • jason pamer

    Just had a meeting with the founder…it is actually $500 RT for the ticket not $1,000. BIG difference…

    • johnhcook

      Nope, that’s not correct. I just got off the phone with Russell Belden, and he confirmed it is $500 one way. Now, he also said, as an update, that they may have to institute some new pricing based on the initial demand. But it is not $500 RT. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://www.theearlyairway.com/chicagojetcharter.aspx Jeremy Cameron

    Very reasonable prices in my opinion, you can get these luxury private jet facilities by becoming a member for only $500.

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