Flying across the UK in a private plane is officially cheaper than taking the train. Professional deal hunter, Tom Church, published the discovery to his website, latestdeals.co.uk, after catching a flight from London to Newcastle.
Church, 26, booked a plane as the solo passenger for £67 – the equivalent train ticket cost £146, more than double the price. Finding train travel prices exorbitant, he turned to a service called Wingly, which puts hobbyist pilots in touch with members of the public for mutual benefit.
Customers such as Church can get to where they want to go for the fraction of the cost of a train ticket or commercial flight, and hobbyists are able to try out new routes and indulge in their love of flying. The term ‘hobbyist’ shouldn’t put passengers off too much – all pilots are fully-qualified and licensed.
Time is also a benefit of flying; had Church taken the train, he would have departed Newcastle at 5pm and arrived in London at 7.50pm. Departing at the same time but travelling via plane, the journey took nearly half the time and he arrived in London at 6.30pm.
“People should definitely give this a go,” Church told The Independent. “If you go onto the website and can’t see anything that works for you, you can write a message asking pilots to take you somewhere. The pilots love it because they get to try new routes they don’t often choose to do.”
Church received several offers once he’d posted his request on Wingly. Having selected pilot Andrew Hyatt, who runs an interior design firm by day, he then arranged the booking directly and received a message saying the plane was fuelled and ready to go on the day.
Hyatt said: “I think this is a great idea. I was flying from London to Newcastle anyway, so it makes sense to take someone with me. It’s cheaper and faster for you, plus it gets more people interested in flying.”
However, this method of transport may not be for the faint-hearted. The aircraft tend to be on the small side – Church’s ride was a Mooney 301 with just four seats, including the pilot’s.
“The take-off and landing was more wobbly than normal commercial jets,” said Church. “But the pilot takes you above the clouds so there’s little disturbance. Andrew navigated away from bad weather.”
For those who can stomach the take-off, this method of travel also eliminates check-in, security and waiting around at the airport. Passengers simply turn up and go. Though keen to share the benefits of using this travel hack, Church also stressed the need to address Britain’s train prices.
“Members of my bargain hunting community had long been complaining about the price of train tickets. It’s one of Britain’s worst problems.”
Church added: “This is a wake up call to Transport Minister Chris Grayling. When flying between UK cities is cheaper than the train, you know something’s gone wrong.”