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FBO is short for Fixed-Base Operator.

They are private jet terminals. When you book a private charter flight, your broker or operator will typically advise you which FBO your flight will be departing from. FBOs are a mix of independent, locally owned and operated businesses, franchises, and chains. In some cases they are operated by the airport authority, however, most operate under a license from the airport or local government.

Fixed-Based Operators offer a lounge for passengers departing and arriving on private aviation flights at that airport. They also provide crew lounges, weather and flight planning assistance, and some facilities at major international airports even offering sleep rooms and showers. Some FBOs also have hangars and office space. Some also provide maintenance, management for aircraft owners, and charter services. Charter brokers and other related businesses serving business aviation often lease office space, the former so they can meet and greet local clients. However, their principal revenue is fuel, they are “gas stations” for private jets. Like a busy intersection of highways have multiple gas stations, busy private aviation airports have multiple FBOs. In airports with high volumes of private jet flights there are as many as six FBOs. It’s not uncommon for even smaller airports to have at least two FBOs. Basic amenities are a seating area with comfortable chairs and end tables where you can wait for other members of your party to arrive and meet your pilots. There is also free WiFi and toilets. Some FBOs offer shower facilities, movie theaters, gift stores, duty-free shopping, car rental desks, concierge services, and even customs and border facilities.

Some FBOs have restaurants or a coffee shop designed to serve the local airport community, but open to passengers as well. While you choose the airports you want to fly into or out of – one of the benefits of private travel, your operator will select the FBO. This is typically based on contracts they have for purchasing fuel. Remember, FBOs are gas stations for private jets. Most operators will allow you to select a different FBO, however, there might be a surcharge, typically in the hundreds of dollars.FBOs are often on the opposite side of the airport from passenger terminals, and are sometimes distant from each other, as in miles apart. If you are arriving on an airline flight and then switching to a private jet or vice versa, make sure to find out in advance how far they are, and the best way to transit between the two. FBOs generally have complimentary parking spaces allotted for charter customers who want to leave the cars. In some cases, it is in a secure area. Some FBOs also provide valet parking. Most brokers or operators will offer to arrange ground transfers when you book at an added expense. Pilots will often ask as well when they meet you, so if you need transportation, they can take care of it. Plane-side drop-off and pick-up varies by airport and is based on security rules for that airport, so always subject to change. It’s less likely at airports where there are also commercial airlines, although that also varies.

The FBO will coordinate loading the luggage with your flight crew, so you don’t have to do a thing. Some private jets have luggage compartments that are not accessible from the cabin, so if there are specific bags you want with you, make sure you specify. Of course, once you get to the plane, if you need a bag in the cabin, your pilots will be happy to get it from the hold prior to departure. When you get to the FBO, go to the reception desk and let the staff know you are looking for your pilots. Unlike airline flight numbers or passenger record locators, the identifier you will use is the tail number of your aircraft. Your operator or broker should provide you this around 24 hours before departure if not sooner, sometimes when you book. In the U.S. all passengers on a Part 135 charter flight, will need to provide current and valid government-issued IDs. They’ll also have to be on the passenger manifest, so make sure if you want to add passengers you do so with your broker or the operator in advance. In airports outside the U.S., there may be additional screening, including luggage and full-body scanners.

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