After years of legal battles (which have now moved into Congress), another company is entering the flight sharing arena in the United States. Blackbird launched their service in 2016, initially offering seats on chartered airplanes. The bulk of their service is still chartered flights, but Blackbird recently introduced the option to Hitch a ride on a small aircraft that’s already going your way. Just like ridesharing services, Blackbird connects you with a pilot planning to fly the route you want to travel. And then you pay for your share of the costs of the trip. The pilot, in this flight sharing scenario, doesn’t make a profit. But they do cut down on the costs of a trip they were planning to fly anyway.
Interestingly, flight sharing has been illegal in the United States since 2014 when the FAA ordered AirPooler to shut down. Airpooler and Flytenow, two of a handful of flight sharing services in existence at that time, tried to fight this decision. But the FAA and then the courts denied their appeal. As far as I know, nothing has changed on the legal front. And the congressional bill to legalize flight sharing was introduced this year is still in committee. Perhaps Blackbird is hoping to fly under the radar, so to speak. Though they’re getting a lot of press so it seems unrealistic to expect the FAA to miss this one.
To use the flight sharing Hitch option on Blackbird you have to define your trip origin and destination and then wait to see if there’s a match. It’s best if your dates are flexible to increase the chances of finding a match. Presumably this matching process will speed up significantly if the service takes off and more pilots sign up. But for now there’s no guarantee Blackbird will find a pilot going your way. But if they do, the price can be quite reasonable.