The battle for the sharing economy has moved into the air where new entrants like Airpooler and Flytenow have come up against FAA regulations. Via Brookings. FAA Says No to Private Air Travel for the Masses. Excerpt:
Most Americans probably think that private air travel is only for the 1 percent, or more likely the 1 percent of the 1 percent, with the cost of private jets in the millions of dollars. Travel in small aircraft is much cheaper, but still inaccessible to most people due to the time, effort, and cost of becoming a private pilot.
The new sharing economy could change that. Just as Airbnb allows individuals to rent out all or part of their homes, and Uber and Lyft are testing out ridesharing services, two new startups are aiming to bring private air travel to the masses. Airpooler and Flytenow offer a simple service that is basically a teched-up version of the craigslist ridesharing board. Pilots post flights that they are planning to take, which passengers can sign up to share.
Travel in small planes is not only convenient, but can be surprisingly economical for passengers. A flight from Washington, DC to New York City in the 1959 Piper Comanche that I co-own with another pilot would take about 1.5 hours and cost about $125 in gas. Split four ways, the cost comes out to about $31 per passenger, a bit more expensive than a bus but much cheaper than Amtrak.
Is it legal for a private pilot to share flight costs with passengers? It definitely is as long as the pilot was going to make the flight anyway. In other words, if I’m going to New York I can bring along a friend and split the cost of gas, but if my friend asks me to fly him to New York as a favor then I have to do it for free or not at all. This may sound like bureaucratic hair-splitting, but the rules are the rules. However, apparently they may not apply to flights arranged over the Internet.