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Cleared to land: Private pilots given rare opportunity to land at JFK, LAX and other major airports

July 18, 2020
3 min read
Cleared to land: Private pilots given rare opportunity to land at JFK, LAX and other major airports
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The airspace around the countries busiest airports -- think JFK and LAX, for example -- is usually very tightly controlled. It requires equal parts art and science to choreograph the arrival and departure of hundreds of aircraft a day, and the jumbo jets that frequent these larger airports have very strict spacing requirements due to the massive amount of wake turbulence they cause.

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While commercial air travel has rebounded slightly from its historic decline earlier this year, the number of passengers and planes flying are still significantly below their pre-pandemic levels. According to The Wall Street Journal, this is creating a once in a lifetime opportunity for private pilots to land at some of the busiest and most iconic airports in the U.S.

New York's quieter airspace means there's more room for private pilots to practice their skills (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

Private pilots could technically request to land at any commercial airport in the country, subject to the approval of air traffic controllers. However, these airports are often so busy that less experienced private pilots would rarely try to sneak their Cessnas and Pipers into the long line of commercial jetliners waiting to land.

While there aren't official numbers on how many private pilots are landing at major commercial airports, The Wall Street Journal quotes a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the regions three main airports, saying that there's been an uptick in the number of pilots requesting touch and go's, where they land at an airport and immediately take off again.

Jon Weiswasser, a vascular surgeon from New Jersey, even filmed himself completing touch and go landings at all three major airports in the area in a single flight (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark).

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The skies remain relatively empty above New York with the three major U.S. airlines all announcing cuts to their proposed August flight schedules. United Airlines, which has a hub at Newark (EWR) Airport, now only plans to operate 35% as many flights as it flew last August. American Airlines has dropped 19 long-haul routes, and Delta is rolling back its expansion plans in August, adding only 500 flights a day instead of the 1,000 the carrier had originally planned.

Industry analysts are predicting a slow recovery to 2019 demand levels, and airlines around the world are retiring hundreds of planes to prepare for a prolonged period of depressed demand. Just this week British Airways announced that it would immediately retire its 28 remaining Boeing 747s a few days after Delta announced it would be retiring a few dozen short-haul jets, in addition to the 777s and MD-88s/MD-90s it retired earlier this year already.

Featured image by Alberto Riva

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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023