The Thrifty Pilot
Papa Echo Echo Emergency!
Having to use the restroom while in the air can sometimes become a large distraction and finding a place to land to relieve yourself becomes high on your list of priorities very quickly.
However, many large FBO's, which will go un-named, charge high fees. These fees include landing charges, ramp fees, aircraft type fees, handling charge, etc. Currently, the AOPA is collecting information about these FBOs in an attempt to combat these high fees.
Members of the AOPA can post comments at www.aopa.org/FBOfees.
"...to park overnight at Baltimore-Washington International Airport totaled some $153 and that avgas was $8 a gallon" - AOPA
In the mean time here are a few ideas and strategies that might help you out on your next trip.
So what do you do in this situation? Here are a few tips to possibly bring you the relief you need:
Planning - good planning is always where you should start. Even when you don't think you are going to have an issue with your flight, it is always a good idea to "look down the road" to spot out a few airports that might be more GA friendly and will not charge you as much if you decide to take a short pit-stop.
Divert to a smaller airport - by diverting to a smaller airport you will most likely not be charged the over inflated charges that come with larger Class D/C/B airports. In addition, you will most likely find gas that is less expensive, a quiet atmosphere, less traffic and a more attentive staff that welcomes GA. Lastly, by stopping by smaller airports, you are keeping them in business which is great for all of us. These airports receive funding based on traffic and fuel sales that flow in
Call ahead - FBOs really appreciate when an aircraft calls ahead so they have a heads up on who is coming in and going out. A short phone call about 10 minutes out gives them some flexibility in helping you out. In a pinch, you can call ahead and explain your situation and if they can accommodate you for a short moment to allow you to take care of your "business"
The back door - many airports that have a FBO have a maintenance bay. A lot of times I chat it up with a mechanic for a couple min (only a couple mind you) and they allow me to use either their restroom or allow me to use the FBOs. Either way most mechanics can feel your pain in both ways when it comes to high fees and will sometimes be very accommodating.
The golden pass - lastly....and this is a little shady. A lot of FBOs have a student pilot "pass" where if you are a student pilot they don't charge (as they want the business after the student becomes a pilot), so if you are alone you can do a x-country and if you are with a passenger....well you get the idea.
Relief in the clouds - there have been many...many products that have come into the market recently that assist in relieving yourself while not having to stop at any FBO along your way. I have listed some below - however, make SURE that you practice GOOD cockpit management. Some of these are actually quite good and will work with both genders in mind:
Firstergo Male & Female Reusable Portable Camping Car Travel Pee Urinal Urine Toilet
Stay safe out there :)
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