After helping former Vice President Dick Cheney hold on to the nation’s second-highest office, Wade Eyerly decided he was ready to skip the hassle of one of the George W. Bush administration’s lasting legacies: the Transportation Security Administration’s enhanced security measures. Eyerly, who worked on Cheney’s advance team during the race against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), claimed to fly about 27 days of each month during the 2004 campaign. Apparently, the indignities of being forced to fly commercial took their toll on Eyerly.
After serving stints at the Pentagon and on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2008 bid for the White House nomination, Eyerly approached his little brother David, a pilot, about starting up an airline. Their initial plan was to take to the skies as PlaneRed, an apparent take-off on the well-established JetBlue brand (and one that seems appropriate for a former GOP operative).
During his first media-go-round last year, Eyerly told Forbes magazine that “flying sucks” largely because of “the TSA’s aggressive and unnecessary prodding.” PlaneRed planned to breeze past all of that. By using small, luxurious aircraft that hold fewer than 10 passengers, the airline would slide in just under the TSA’s threshold to mandate screening passengers.
Eyerly’s first crack at revolutionizing the airline industry with semiprivate D.C.-to-N.Y. charters didn’t quite work out, so he’s moved west, where he hopes to jump-start Surf Air. He’s hoping that frustrated fellow travelers will be willing to pay just less than $800 a month for unlimited flights around California.
If it works out there, Eyerly says he’ll consider expanding across the United States.
Perhaps he’ll want to reconsider totally abandoning the D.C. market. Given his treatment at the hands of the TSA as of late, we’d be willing to bet Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would gladly pay extra to sidestep what his dad, House lawmaker and GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul, called the TSA’s “bureaucratic monster.”
— Nathan Hurst