Every so often William Ishkanian, founder and CEO of door distributor Wayland Millwork, takes a handful of employees on a tour of suppliers to examine new products. Flying businesspeople anywhere is always expensive, Ishkanian says with regret, because "you can't take advantage of discount fares; you gotta go when you gotta go." Furthermore, Wayland Millworks' small-business itinerary hopscotches through locales that often can't be reached by commercial jet without changing at some out-of-the-way hub.

But recently, when he asked his travel agent to book an expedition that meandered from home base, in Marlborough, Mass.; to Peoria, Ill.; and on to Waterloo, Iowa; Oshkosh, Wis.; Minneapolis; and Cincinnati; the agent suggested that instead of investing in a strip of tickets at times and prices dictated by commercial carriers, Ishkanian should charter his own plane. He did. The score: commercial airlines, $20,000; chartered Lear jet, $18,000. (See "Does Charter Pay?," [Article link].)

Ishkanian rented the craft through Flight Time International (FTI), a Boston-based service that tracks the availability of chartered transit and arranges for its hire. Although FTI specializes in filling large planes such as DC-10s, it also handles corporate jets and small propeller craft. One of the few air-travel services that monitor "deadhead" flights -- empty commercial planes needed at another location that, when they go, can be chartered for groups of passengers -- FTI claims that even small groups can save time and money by shopping charters and deadheads, especially for short hops.

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