Travelers trade cost for convenience

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Many people who travel hundreds of miles jump on a commercial jet to get there. ImagineAir wants to get you there faster by using smaller, slower planes.

ImagineAir CEO Ben Hamilton created a big idea from small planes nine years ago. In a Georgia Tech dorm room, Hamilton and some buddies formed a company that he calls Uber of the Skies.

"We started ImagineAir with the idea to get the millions of people who are taking regional road trips and we’re taking them off the highway and bringing them into the sky,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton said his on-demand air-taxi service turns three- to seven-hour drives into one- or two-hour flights.

A team of ImagineAir pilots flies 11 Cessna four-seater planes to and from small airports on the East Coast. In the Jacksonville area, ImagineAir flies out of Craig Executive, JIA, Herlong, Fernandina Beach, Cecil Field and St. Augustine.

Last year it flew 200 flights out of our local airports. Travelers book directly on ImagineAir's website.

Hamilton flies a Cirrus SR-22, a state-of-the-art plane with a parachute attached just in case of emergencies.

Hamilton said in more than nine years and 25,000 flights a parachute never has had to be deployed.

Passengers can get to their destination quicker because flights are direct, and there are no security lines, lost luggage or missed connections.

"We fly doctors, we fly lawyers, we fly politicians, we fly rock stars," Hamilton said.
Affluent passengers cost for convenience.

Action News Jax checked a one-way flight from Jacksonville to Atlanta. ImagineAir's fare for up to three passengers was around $1,500. That’s about 50 percent more for three tickets to the same destination on a commercial jet.

"If you have three people it boils down to about a $1.50 per mile per person," said Hamilton.

ImagineAir now wants to expand west of the Mississippi and increase its fleet of planes. It’s seeking investors for capital to fund its expansion.