June 18, 2021

The Top FBOs: What Sets Them Apart

Private Jet Owners Share the Characteristics of Their Favorite Fixed-Base Operations

Fixed-base operations, commonly called FBOs, in America are responsible for providing aviation service to corporate and private jet travelers and operators, including concierge service, maintenance, fueling, storage, business centers, courtesy cars, and even creature comforts like catering, napping spaces, and conference rooms.

Aviation International News regularly surveys the users of the approximately 20,000 FBOs in the world to determine which are the absolute best based on amenities, customer service, and professionalism. The survey asks FBO users to consider those they’ve visited in the last 12 months. Here’s what they said about what makes the best FBO.

FBO Service Categories for Private Jets
Aviation International News asked survey participants to rank the following five categories on a scale of one to 10, in which 10 is the best and one is the worst.

  • Line service. How competent were the workers who met the business jet on the ramp and serviced it? Did they provide service as expected?
  • Passenger amenities. Did the quality of lounges, conference rooms, ground transportation, and more meet or exceed expectations? Were there useful or helpful amenities available?
  • Pilot amenities. Were pilots’ lounges, flight-planning facilities, “snooze rooms,” showers, entertainment, and crew cars available? Were they quality?
  • Facilities. Were the facilities clean, comfortable, and convenient?
  • Customer Service. Were the customer reps and service providers friendly and helpful? Were you satisfied with their resolutions and care provided?

The Negatives of FBOs for Business Jet Owners and Operators
Respondents to the annual survey reported that certain things that FBOs do would make them avoid them in the future, or choose a different FBO for services on their next trip.

The majority of respondents said poor passenger customer service was the most important reason they’d avoid an FBO, followed by unprofessional trained customer service representatives.

Run-down or unclean facilities and poor aircraft care generally followed closely together, with ramp fees and separate service charges scored similarly. These service charges could be for things like coffee, ice, or newspapers - the very basics. Lack of proper ground-handling equipment was also important, scoring in the double digits of respondents.

Finally, adding a handling fee for catering, billing errors, and spilling fuel on the aircraft came up as the least most important.

Reasons for Choosing an FBO
Respondents reported various reasons for choosing an FBO, with customer service and fuel pricing being the most commonly selected factors. Passenger amenities, pilot amenities, and cleanliness were also popular reasons.

Infrastructure and decor and line-service training program participation were deemed equally important, but having a loyalty program or using a specific fuel brand were the lowest priorities.

Determining the Best FBO is Subjective
Before choosing your landing airport and selecting your FBO, come to terms with what you and your crew really need and want out of an FBO. This will ultimately influence how satisfied you are with the FBO servicing your plane and providing for your crew.

For example, if you need the bare minimum of services, you may be fine with an FBO with only basic amenities. If you’re looking for the utmost care and tons of benefits, then you’ll be most satisfied with an FBO that provides them.

The point is that you identify what you want and need from an FBO and book with an FBO that provides those for you. If you want one thing in particular, but the FBO you chose doesn’t offer it, then you’ll likely be disappointed with your experience.

What isn’t negotiable, as private jet owners and operators have made clear, is top-notch customer service and being treated well during FBO visits.

In the Market to Buy a Private Jet?
While the best FBOs are likely subjective, an ethical, honest aircraft dealer is not. It is quite clear-cut the actions you should expect from the best aircraft dealer, and the International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA) outlines them and requires their accredited dealers to adhere to strict ethical standards.

People looking for a luxury private jet for sale would do well to work with an IADA Accredited Aircraft Dealer to ensure they’re getting a fair deal from an aviation industry expert with their best interests at heart.

Shop for business jets for sale at AircraftExchange, where all listings of private jets are vetted for accuracy and legitimacy and backed by the ethical guidelines of IADA.