CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a sunny, warm Thursday at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, and more than two dozen football fans are headed up to Green Bay for the Bears Packers game.
“Welcome! We’re going up to Green Bay today and for many of you, that’s enemy territory,” laughed Todd Rubin, co-founder of Big Game Air. “We’ve got two birds going into enemy territory to Bear Down.”
Last year, Rubin and his partner Arturo Gomez wanted to go to a football game, but Gomez’s wife was pregnant and needed him home that same night. As a result, Big Game Air was born.
“We decided to charter a plane as long as we delivered him back the same day she said he could go,” said Rubin.
“My wife was seven months pregnant, so she wasn’t into me leaving the entire weekend. So I talked to Todd and we figured out the only way we could feasibly do it — get there and back was to charter a jet,” said Gomez. “We found a group of friends who were interested in doing it, we set a price and sold the plane out in a day and we saw it as a business. That’s how it all started.”
The company launched in August and has since made trips to Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio for college and NFL games.
“We’re allowed to sell individual seats on a publicly chartered aircraft,” said Rubin. “It’s for the passionate sports fan, it’s the family man or woman who wants to get back the same day, it’s for the thrill seeker, it’s for the aviation enthusiast — it’s for everyone,” he said.
Rubin says it’s not so much about the trip but the experience. He says time is the commodity.
“It makes it accessible to people who maybe aren’t super wealthy. This is something your kid or siblings can treat you to on Father’s Day — we’re sending Dad back to Michigan to see the game.”
The cost of a seat on the jet runs between $1,200 and $2,200 depending on the event. Rubin says if you compare the cost of travel and lodging, it all adds up.
“If you do the cost comparison, the surge pricing with the hotels in these game day cities — $600 a night — game day tickets, gas, the time you spend on the road — you don’t get to enjoy the game day experience,” Ruben said. “This is a convenient way to get you there, to your bucket list game, and get you home.”
Each Big Game Air ticket includes round-trip private jet travel and on-the-ground transportation to and from the sporting event.
“I was in the hospitality industry for years. So was Todd. It’s really a first of its kind. We are bringing the hospitality component, another layer of service and experience to chartering and private aviation. I think it’s really unique,” said Gomez.
The pair hopes to expand Big Game Air into other markets in its sophomore year.
“The idea is to expand to New York, West Coast, and do some special events, too, like the Kentucky Derby, the Masters — not just football,” Rubin said.
“We’ve got a full schedule for the rest of the year. Long term, we want to be a household name,” Gomez added.
Big Game Air is making it easier for passionate sports fans to experience a luxury, same-day game day.
Some of the upcoming marquee events include the Blackhawks at Nashville on Nov. 28th, the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 2nd and Superbowl LII on Feb. 4th.
For more information on prices and packages, log on to biggameair.com.