Taking the fun out of flying

I’m flying to Boston on Sunday for the week to chair the XML 2006 conference. When I fly to New York City, I usually land at Teterboro Airport and park at Atlantic Aviation — the gas is expensive, but my Cherokee doesn’t use much, and since U.S. customs is located right at Atlantic I can fly non-stop from Ottawa, shaving 45 minutes from the trip.

I thought about trying the same thing with Boston this time by flying into Laurence G Hanscom Field Airport (aka Bedford), just west of the city. The Signature FBO is typical for a big city — expensive gas, $25 handling fee waived if you buy a minimum amount of fuel — so that’s not a problem. MassPort, who runs the major Boston airports, also tacks on a $10 landing fee and $12.75/night parking charge, but again, that’s not too bad.

After that, it starts to get strange. For example, some busy airports offer reduced landing fees at night where there’s not much traffic, but MassPort goes the other way: there’s a $49 surcharge for each landing between 11pm and 7am, and it doubles to $98 if you do it more than 5 times in a year. I guess that’s for noise abatement. MassPort also requires a prop lock on all parked planes, and there used to be a $10/day rental fee for them, but Signature now loans them out for free. Finally, the kicker is a $65 user fee for the privilege of clearing customs at KBED in a four-seat plane.

So much for that. I’ll add 45 minutes to my trip, clear customs for free (in Massena, NY or Burlington, VT), then land at one of the airports just outside MassPort’s ring of control and ride the commuter train in, as I’ve done three times in the past. Check out the MassPort fee page to see how easily bad government can take the fun out of flying — it makes the forthcoming Nav Canada big-airport user fees look tame in comparison.

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2 Responses to Taking the fun out of flying

  1. I’ve landed at Bedford and was advised of all of the fees and now 7 months later I’m still to get my bill. It’s a great airport and everyone was very friendly but certainly on paper the fees are outrageous. It was a great flight flying through all of New York to and from Toronto. I may or may not return to Bedford given the fees (if I ever get billed) but aside from costs the trip was well worth it.


  2. david says:

    Thanks for the report, Anthony. Normally, I clear customs at Massena, NY (KMSS) and then land at Norwood (KOWD), which is near two commuter rail lines into Boston. I’m tempted by Bedford only because of the customs on the field, because it’s about the same distance from downtown Boston as Norwood is (though it’s a few miles closer to Ottawa). I wonder if I should take my chances on MassPort failing to send me a bill. Did you clear customs there?

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