College football games are great, but they’d be a lot worse if one team couldn’t attend. That’s the worst-case scenario created by a lack of charter planes in the current marketplace.
With travel parties that are usually right around 200 people for college football teams, chartering planes is much easier than trying to do things commercially. But chartering continually gets more difficult as fleets decrease in size.
Facing high travel demand, airlines are cutting back on the number of planes and crews available to charter, leaving colleges and some pro sports leagues scrambling. Jennifer Bulla, who manages travel for Ohio State, spent “a sleepless week” after United Airlines canceled its agreement to fly the Buckeyes in 2017 and 2018. (It has since reconsidered.) Other teams are taking the bus to places they once flew.
Conference realignment certainly hasn’t helped this. For instance: Texas A&M has to go to places like South Carolina and Georgia. West Virginia teams now have to go to Texas multiple times a year. Those aren’t drivable trips.
With more demand increasing as supply decreases, maybe you will see your friendly neighborhood college program in a commercial terminal near you. Hopefully you don’t get bumped like a group of passengers were in favor of the Florida basketball team in 2015.