As the New York area geared up for the Super Bowl on February 2, the local FBOs were preparing for the arrival of hundreds of business aircraft along with their passengers and crews. In what has become a standard part of the Big Game day, most service providers planned to pull out all the stops with elaborate hangar parties to entertain flight crews waiting for their passengers, but Million Air chose to take that one step further with what it called the VIP Experience, a three-day party for passengers and crew alike at its Westchester County Airport facility that started the day before kickoff and ended the Monday after the game.
“We’re taking one of our hangars like we’ve normally done, we’re going to heat it and we’re going to convert it,” said Million Air president Roger Woolsey said before the event. “You will not recognize it as a hangar.” In preparation for the crowd, the hangar floor was carpeted and the space filled with large-screen televisions, couches and recliners, with catered buffet food and beverages available. As with past Super Bowls, there was even provision for passengers looking to bring home some souvenirs from a Super Bowl retail store in the hangar stocked with licensed memorabilia. Those purchases were delivered directly to the aircraft, sparing passengers the inconvenience of carrying them around at the stadium.
To help deal with the crush of aircraft and passengers, the company, like most other service provider chains, brought in additional seasoned employees from other bases in its network. (As in past years, Woolsey himself joined the line-service team.)
The cost of transporting workers and putting them in hotels, plus the cost of the party itself, would drive the price tag for such an event to more than a quarter million dollars, Woolsey predicted. In a move to not only help defray costs but also to enhance the event, Million Air attracted a line-up of luxury product sponsors. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars displayed its latest models in the hangar, along with simulators. Other high-end companies included western boot makers, jewelers and furriers from Million Air’s home state of Texas, who brought fashion models to help exhibit their products. Pura Vida Tequila was on hand, along with California vintner Captûre Wines. “For our pilots not aviating that night or our passengers who wanted to grab a glass of wine coming or going we had a wine bar,” noted Woolsey, adding that there were also several Nespresso coffee bars as well for crewmembers waiting to depart.
In the end, while the company was poised to spend more on its Super Bowl preparations than it would earn from the traffic, it was banking on the exposure and good will such an occasion can generate. Woolsey, a former corporate pilot himself, understands the event is mainly about the flight crews who are bound to wait at the FBO. Before the event, he said “It’s a little less fun for them going to the Super Bowl than it is for our passengers, but we’re going to make it where our pilots really enjoy it and look forward to it; that’s the goal.”