How the rich fly into the Super Bowl

More than 1,000 private jets are expected to descend on the San Francisco Bay Area for Super Bowl 50, making it one of the biggest private jet events of the year.

Private jet companies say this year’s game could near or top records for previous Super Bowls, given the attractive location, large number of private jet airports in the area and the excitement over the game.

Companies say business is up between 10 and 20 percent over last year. And while consolidated numbers are hard to come by, experts estimate between 1,000 and 1,500 jets could arrive at Oakland, San Jose, Hayward and other California airports. Private jet fliers are expected to spend between $75 million and $85 million on charters to the game — and that doesn’t include money spent on fractional and single-owner planes.

“This will be our biggest Super Bowl activity,” said Michael Silvestro, CEO of Flexjet, which has between 75 and 100 flights scheduled to go to and from the game. “We’re excited again to take care of our customers and to have them really to have a good time. So we want to make sure that their experience, their entire travel experience, from the time they leave their home, to flying on the aircraft, to helping them navigate the San Francisco area and getting them home safely.”

Indeed, Flexjet is going all out to cater to its Super Bowl clients’ every need — from extra staffers on the ground to special, high-end goody bags greeting them when they land. It’s also adding special catering services to give its well-heeled clients the ultimate tailgating party before the game.

For Flexjet customers flying out of Denver to cheer for the Broncos, the company’s caterers will be serving elk and other big game meats. For clients flying out of the Carolinas to support the Panthers, clients can enjoy ribs, pulled pork and other regional barbecue.

FlexJet First Officer Rob Caster conducts a post-flight inspection of a Learjet 45 aircraft after landing

Tom Pennington | Getty Images
FlexJet First Officer Rob Caster conducts a post-flight inspection of a Learjet 45 aircraft after landing

“We like to offer unique, regional catering,” said Silvestro of Flexjet.

NetJets holds a special “Super Bowl BBQ” for its customers every year, and this year’s bash in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood will feature a performance by the band Maroon 5. The company is also providing special “gameday” catering on board its planes with nachos and wings as well as “training table” steaks and sides.

Some of the NetJets cabins will be decorated with team colors, hats and jackets depending on the requests of clients. And it will have “more extensive than normal” ground services for luggage and logistics.

Wheels Up, the new kid on the private jet block, is hosting its own celebrity-filled party in San Francisco, with guests like Rob Gronkowski, J.J. Watt and Erin Andrews. The company won’t comment on the musical guest, but word has it that the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir will be performing.

Wheels Up CEO Kenny Dichter said the company’s Super Bowl business will be up more than 20 over last year. He said the volatility in the stock market and concerns about global growth don’t seem to be hitting the private jet sector — especially for special events like the Super Bowl.

“The industry is finally back to pre-crisis levels,” Dichter said. “With all the choppiness in the stock market, demand in our industry is very strong.”

Flying private to the big game won’t be cheap. According to PrivateFly, a jet charter company, a Gulfstream G550 to the game from New York will run $85,000 — but that works out to be around $6,000 a person. For Denver fans, they can charter a 13-seat Falcon 2000 for $35,000.

You can also buy single seats on a private jet to the game. According to BlackJet, a seat on a jet from New York will run around $6,200, while a seat from Chicago will be around $3,700.

With all those jets flocking to the same location, however, jet traffic jams are likely. Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, said some airports in the area will have to park jets on the taxiways and lawns to make space.

And all of the planes will typically try to leave at the same time after the game, creating potential for delays and confusion. Of course, San Francisco will be a breeze compared with the 2012 Super Bowl, when hundreds of private jets were jammed into small airports around Indianapolis — and many were grounded on Monday morning by an ice storm.

Still, some airports in the Bay Area may have 100 to 200 jets stacked up Sunday night waiting to depart.

“We call it the billionaire’s brawl,” he said. “Every plane wants to take off at the same time. “It’s a real issue after the game when everyone wants to get home.”

Of course, there are worse places to wait than a private jet.

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