82 Replies


Posted by Daria Knupp on Aug 29, 2017 10:59 am


With the filing of official complaints to the FAA, AOPA rolled out the next phase of its ongoing effort to tackle egregious fees charged by certain fixed-base operations around the country. The move comes after months of effort identifying the worst offenders and attempting to work with local airport sponsors receptive to ensuring their communities offer pilots reasonable access to their airfields, often described as the local on and off ramps to the National Airspace System. Read more here.

Have you experienced any egregious FBO pricing practices? 
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Posted by Max Reason on Aug 19, 2019 7:29 pm

Yes, of course most FBOs are not funded by public sources.  However, how much business would they do if not provided a freaking airport to operate on?  Answer:  very little.  Which brings the question back to the public part of the issue.  If the public entity is charging the FBO an insanely high price to locate on the airport, then obviously the FBO needs to charge high prices to be able to pay their fixed costs.  But if their lease is cheap or free, they should not be charging such egregious rip-off prices.

Also, what constitutes an FBO is highly variable.  For example, the airport near here has a small building that is part of the airport, which is open 24 hours every day though only attended 8 to 12 hours each day.  That building has rest-rooms, conference room, pilot preparation room with computer and such for flight planning, plus another room to just lounge around, plus two small "private rooms" where pilots flying cross country can "crash" (as in sleep).  And so, the FBO doesn't need to have its own rest-room and other facilities like you mention.

If the FBO has lots of space because they offer pilot training services, airplane rental and who knows what else, then it is up to the FBO to charge enough for those services to pay for those services.  Those costs should not be shifted over onto fuel prices, because that is making people pay through the nose for something they don't get (flight training, airplane rental, etc).

So ... these issues depend very much on the specific airport/airstrip/location.  Nonetheless, it sounds to me like some of them are absolutely ripping pilots off.  If you have information on specific places that charge super-duper-high prices on fuel, give us those figures.  My guess is, they're shifting costs onto people who are not causing those high costs.  Prove that wrong.  A tank and pump are rather simple systems, and shouldn't cost much more at one place versus another.  Which is why I have to believe they are ripping off pilots for fuel to fund other parts of their operation (or just overpaying themselves).


I suggest you tell farmers and ranchers and other people they are not allowed to drive their tractors and other equipment on or across public roads.  Good luck with that.  You want to force farmers and ranchers to register their tractors and other equipment as motor vehicles like cars and trucks?  That is egregious.  I suppose you also want to force bicycles and motorized skateboards and motorized wheelchairs to register as motor vehicles too, huh?

Fortunately for a great many people in this world, not even the predators-that-be are as far gone as you appear to be.  The kind of "incidental use" I'm talking about is common in rural areas, and nobody cares or says a thing.  Fortunately, people like you live in cities where you belong.  And yes, landing on a rural road and pulling into a gasoline station is definitely "incidental use".  However, when I said "land next to gasoline stations", most of the time that means landing in an empty field next-to or behind the gasoline station, not on the road.  But sometimes on the road if safer or necessary.  And no, it is not illegal to drive tractors or airplanes across or short distances on rural roads.  If you live "back east" you might have such an impression, and may have been indoctrinated to think that way.  And who knows, maybe your corrupt hick local cops will even give farmers, ranchers and pilots trouble when they feel like it.  Which just reminds me of what I've already known for decades ... stay away from "back east" (or near medium-to-large cities anywhere).

Yes, airplanes that aren't small or aren't lightweight have greater restrictions.  Mine weighs less than 800 pounds (dry).  That's 1/4 to 1/3 the weight of typical cars.  So of course no pilot is going to land a 747 (or even a small twin-engine airplane) in the kind of places I mentioned.  That should go without saying.  And, incidentally, a large percentage of the airplanes that are appropriate to operate the way I mentioned (pull into gas stations to get fuel) contain Rotax (or other) engines that prefer normal premium automobile gasoline (no need for super-premium whatever that is, just conventional 91 octane available at every pump).

Do you check who owns the parking lots that you pull into when you stop somewhere to stay at a motel?  No?  Oh, then you better be careful!  You might get arrested.  And who knows, maybe you'll be hung.

Oh, and BTW, none of what you bitched about in your message is what I suggested.  Go back and read again and you'll see that.  My suggestions were entirely different, but you didn't say a word about them.  Good grief.  Why do some people just love to create trouble out of nothing, where no trouble exists?  Sigh.


Posted by Ronald Levy on Aug 19, 2019 7:38 pm

I'm guessing you've never run an airport or an FBO or been on an airport commission or studied airport/aviation management (my Master's in Aviation Management comes from ERAU, if that matters), and I don't have the time necessary to teach you all that here.  Good luck, and Godspeed.