In the past 15 years
cruise ship tourism has taken over Southeast Alaska. When the
Cruise Companies come into a small town like Ketchikan they start
negotiating with the larger floatplane operators for the best
deals(30-40%) they (the Cruise Ship Companies) can get. The floatplane
operators naturally need to make a profit so they make their tours
shorter and shorter using bigger planes with seasonal pilots.
Resulting in what is the norm in Ketchikan now, 6 to 10 tourists
on a Misty Fjords Tour that last 1hr 10min., a recorded tour message
on inferior headsets (without microphones) piloted by non-resident
pilots at a cost to you often higher than the independents charge.
There are two of these larger operators in town. There are six
small ( 1 to 3 plane operations) in Ketchikan and no consensus
on how to successfully compete in the tour market, most of the
smaller operators have gone to larger airplanes and have shortened
their Misty Fjords Tours also.
Family Air has gone a different way.
1. My airplane holds a maximum of 4 passengers and I will take
a minimum of two (3-4 minimum is the norm for other companies).
All the seats are window seats.
2. Family Air's Misty
Fjords Tour is 2hrs long and includes
a 30 min. shore stop on a wilderness lake or fjord,
where you can walk around and enjoy the scenery, breath the fresh
air without an airplane surrounding you. (the large companies
let you out on the floats, not the shore, for 5mins)
3. I use the highest
quality, active noise cancelling headsets
(with microphones) available. There is no pre-recorded
tape playing during the tour and you are able to converse with
the pilot and the other passengers during the flight.
4. I have been commercially
flying in Alaska since 1990. I fly here year round and am an Alaska
resident. I have over 15,000 safe flying hours. I
am the only pilot for Family Air and own the company and airplane.
My airplane is maintained to better than FAA standards and has
a number of mods to make it safer than the stock Cessna 185.
5. Family Air has the
best cancellation policy in the business.
Tours may be cancelled, for a full refund, up to 24 hrs in advance
of flight time. A refund will be given if the fault does not lie
with you (bad weather, lost cruise ship, etc.) We will cancel
(full refund) if the weather is not suitable for a tour. The larger
companies will often take you on tours right down to FAA minimums
(200 feet ceiling and 2 miles visibility), but, although that
may be safe it is not very conductive for an enjoyable tour-after
all you are going on a tour to see the beauty of Alaska, not just
go on a foggy airplane ride.
(A disclaimer here; the weather in SE Alaska
can be vastly different over a short distance and the Misty Fjords
are 70 miles from Ketchikan, so just because it looks pretty dismal
in town does not necessarily mean it's ugly in the Fjords.)
6. We are a small company
that specializes in customer service and quality flights over
quantity of passenger numbers. We are able and willing to customize
our flights to your needs, be it adding a picnic lunch or choosing
a better flight time than or normal ones.