Dayton "Chartered" Flyers

From the Dayton Daily News…

[b]Flyers will travel in style this season
UD men’s basketball taking to the air in chartered jet

By Bucky Albers
Dayton Daily News
October 8, 2004

DAYTON | The University of Dayton men’s basketball players will be able to stretch out their long legs on team flights this season. For the first time, UD will do all of its air travel on chartered planes.

Instead of being jammed into small commuter jets where leg room is insufficient for many players, the Flyers will be traveling most of the time on reconfigured DC9s, in which all of the seats have first-class comfort. Trips will be reduced from three days to two, eliminating a day of missed classes and much of the waiting in airports.

Dayton will be the first school in the Atlantic 10 Conference to regularly use chartered aircraft.

UD coach Brian Gregory said his team will fly to nine of their 11 road games this season. The team will take a bus to Xavier and Duquesne. The extra cost of $8,000 to $10,000 each flight will be absorbed by Dayton boosters (16-18 per flight) who will travel with the team on an “invitation only” basis.

All but one of Dayton’s flights will be on DC9s supplied by USA Jet of Ypsilanti, Mich., which got its start as a cargo airline.

Basketball teams in such leagues as the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big East have been taking chartered flights for years and recruiters for their schools do not hesitate to point that out to recruits considering schools that cannot afford the extra expense.

“I couldn’t believe how much school we missed last year,” said Gregory, who over the previous six years as a Michigan State assistant had gotten accustomed to chartered flights. “It’s difficult to travel on commercial airlines these days. On every road trip we’re going to miss one less day of school.”

Dayton has taken occasional charters in the past. Last season some UD fans accompanied the team on a couple of charters and Gregory enhanced their experience by giving “chalk talks” to the group in the hotel a few hours before the game.

“It gives the people who support our program a more intimate look at how we run it. I don’t mind it a bit,” Gregory said. “I’ll do whatever I can do to promote the program, if I’m comfortable with it.”

Joe Quinn of Charter Search, which schedules and dispatches the aircraft, said, “The (DC9) planes are set up for business class, with big, high-back seats. The airplanes are beautiful.”

One UD flight, for a game at Richmond, will be on a smaller regional jet supplied by Chatauqua Air Lines.

The time-saving value of taking chartered flights can be best understood by examining a typical trip to St. Bonaventure in the remote city of Olean, N.Y. Normally, the UD team has flown to Buffalo, with a connection in Pittsburgh, to set up a two-hour bus ride to Olean. After the game, the Flyers have taken the bus back to Buffalo, stayed in a hotel near the airport and received a 6 a.m. wakeup call the following day to make the two-segment flight home.

With a chartered plane waiting at an airport near Olean, the Flyers can be on board 90 minutes after the game and arrive in Dayton by 1 a.m. That enables them to make all of their classes the next day and be fairly fresh for a late-afternoon practice.

Ted Kissell, director of athletics at UD, said the charter flights should help to avoid another fiasco like the Wyoming trip in January when UD’s Sunday morning flight from Denver to Dayton was canceled and United Air Lines could not get the Flyers on a flight out of Denver before Tuesday. The UD team took a bus to Colorado Springs on Monday and flew home from there.

Quinn conceded that charter flights are not exempt from weather delays and mechanical problems. He said the most common scheduling problem occurs when a team is late arriving at the airport. That can put the aircraft behind schedule to carry another team later in the day.[/b]

Link: Dayton Daily News [NOTE: site requires registration]

We need this. What a recruiting tool! So, boosters pay $450/flight to travel with the team? That’s not too bad…