Sharing Expenses with Passengers

Tip Ride Sharing Tip Ride Sharing

The FAA's decision to ban Internet ride-sharing websites like AirPooler and Flytenow is hardly surprising given the Department of Transportation's tight restrictions on "holding out" for air transportation services. As a private pilot you can accept money to fly your friends to Spokane for a wedding you're all attending, but if you advertise that same flight on the web and ask for payment, you've crossed a line.

So what can you as a private pilot charge for?

According to the FARs, fuel and oil consumed on a flight and ramp or tie-down fees at the destination airport can be shared on an equal basis by a pilot and passengers. If the airplane is rented from an FBO or flight school, the hourly rental fee (plus the cost of fuel, if that isn't included in the rental fee) can be shared by the pilot and passengers. Indirect expenses such as insurance, maintenance and depreciation cannot be shared.

How do you calculate the amount each occupant will pay? It isn't necessary to equally divvy up each individual cost. Just be sure you're not shelling out less than an equal share of the total operating costs or rental fee for a given flight. In general, all you need to do is divide the total costs for the flight by the number of people on board the airplane and the result will be the amount that each person should pay.

Also keep in mind that in addition to equal sharing of the cost of the flight, the FAA says the pilot and passengers must have a "common purpose" for the flight as well. That is, they must be flying to the destination for a reason, not merely so the pilot can build time and charge money.

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