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Thread: Warren Johnson transport to Unimak Island

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    Default Warren Johnson transport to Unimak Island

    I would like some help from my fellow hunters. This last fall I hunted Unimak Island for Brown Bear. I used Warren Johnson/Kenai Float Plan Services as my transporter. When I talked to Warren last spring when I was awarded the tag he quoted me $400/hr from Cold Bay. Was told it would be about an hour flight to the spot we talked about going. When it got closer to the hunt Warren had me call the person who will be doing the flying. When I contacted Thoe he told me that Warren is out of touch with the pricing and that he did not figure in the flight time from Nelson Lagoon to Cold Bay. He told me not to worry about it because it wont be that much more. That part was hard to take becuase every hunter arrives in Cold Bay to hunt Unimak Island. I was told that it would cost more like $1600. With the added flight time from Nelson Lagoon to Cold Bay that price made since but still bugged me that they did not hold there quoted price. When I arrived in Cold Bay Thoe informed me that due to weather he was going to have to charge me $1800 EACH WAY!! He then asked me how I felt about that. What was i supposed to say? I am in Cold Bay with no other options. On the hunt of a life time. Then we find out that Ace Air Cargo sent half of our gear to Nelson Lagoon. Thoe takes another party that needed to go to Nelson Lagoon over and when he was there he got us our gear. We were thankful for him doing that so we tipped him $200 bucks. At this point I am questions why the charter cost this much so I start my stop watch on my phone when we start to taxi out of Cold Bay. We land on the beach and drop our gear. Flight time was 34 min. 34 min. and I paid him $1800. The weather he talked about well it was raining in Cold Bay but stopped by the time we got to False Pass. It was windy but nothing new in Cold Bay.When we call him to pick us up he says he can not land in the same spot and he might have Rod Schuh pick us up in his Beaver. He again says dont worry it wont cost much more. I did not want to pay anymore money so he told us to find him 1500 feet of good hard beach and he would be able to pick us up. We spent an afternoon walking the beach looking for spots for him to land. Still didnt have a bear so it would have been nice to be hunting. We found 1500 feet of nice hard beach and got him in to pick us up. He charges us another $1800 even though I disputed the charges when we landed in Cold Bay 34 minutes later. I have called Warren Johnson since to talk to him about it. He keeps telling me that he needs to talk to Thoe or Thoe will be calling you. I have not heard anything back from either of them. Doing the quick math at $550 per hour and it taking 80 minutes of flight time (that includes the 45 minutes from Nelson Lagoon) my total each way should have been $733.60. With a total of $1466.72 and paid him $3600. That is a differance of $2,133.28. What would my fellow hunters on this site do if they were in my shoes?

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    Typically when you are paying by the hour you are paying from the time the engine starts until it stops (also called Hobbs time). You will be charged for ALL FLIGHT TIME from where the plane is based, to where it picks you up, to where it drops you off and then the return to where the plane is based. For the return you will pay for the empty leg to pick you up, the leg dropping you off, and then if required the leg to return the aircraft to its' home base. If you paid $3600 at $550/HR that would equal 6.5 hours of flight time. I've never heard of paying extra for flying in poor/more challenging weather. The weather is either ok or it's not. If the flight was going to be longer due to stronger headwinds or we had to hold or find an alternate landing spot then I would expect to pay for the extra time.

    I'm assuming you were flying in a cub? Its roughly 80 miles from Nelson Lagoon to Cold Bay which is about an hour of flight time, plus the time to drop you off (34 minutes of flight plus taxi time/let's call it 45 minutes), plus the return to Nelson Lagoon. That's roughly 3+ hours of flight time. The pick up flight time is roughly the same so paying for 6.5 hours of flight time is about right.

    If the pilot is able to combine loads, i.e. dropping you off and picking up another party, his company makes double the money unless they make both parties a deal. I hate paying for empty legs but that is how charter flights work most of the time. Airplanes cost money to operate whether they are empty or full.

    Unfortunately, unless you had all of your prices in writing you are sol.

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    He knew you were in a hard spot and took advantage of you by bending you over and giving you the shaft. Most people can't swing that kind of cost added at the last moment's notice. I'd be pretty upset and take him to small claims court. Did you ever get a contract or anything other than word of mouth?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    He knew you were in a hard spot and took advantage of you by bending you over and giving you the shaft. Most people can't swing that kind of cost added at the last moment's notice. I'd be pretty upset and take him to small claims court. Did you ever get a contract or anything other than word of mouth?

    I have been looking into small claims court because yes i can not afford that type of price differance. I do not have a contract. I asked Warran multiple times if i could pay him half down as a deposit but he kept saying no. One person i talked to said that in court that will look like he was planning to not honor his price from the begainning. I have flow out of Kodiak twice now and both times i had a contract saying what type of aircraft and the price. This time there was no such thing.

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    Birdstrike, thanks for the response, much appreciated. Thats the first time i had heard that the customer is responsible for both legs of the flight. The other calls i have made and the people i have talked to said that the price per hour quoted covers both legs. He also never stated to me that his plan had to come from Nelson Lagoon until i talked to Theo. I guess my thought is since he has done this a thousand time over he would know to metion the total flight time when he quoted me. Not just giving me a price from Cold Bay to Unimak. Sounds like he was never being straight forward from the begainning. I have taken a charter out of Kodiak twice and the price per hour was for time i was in the plane. The contracts with those outfitts reflected only the time in the aircraft.

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    As a pilot myself you are getting ripped off and taken advantage of. That's a bunch of BS. You generally wouldn't pay for the repositioning of aircraft. Usually you do pay in and out price. If it was a 34 minute flight in, double that (for return flight). Then whatever flight time was to pick you up and return you. So about 34 minutes times 4 at his hourly rate.

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    This makes you question applying for this hunt - quite a disincentive (I've been applying for it for 14yrs).

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    It he is based in cold bay and his plane was somewhere else you shouldn't be paying for that. Cause guess what, someone is already paying for it to be out of base!

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    ask for a written receipt with the breakdown of charges specifically for your review in light of a simple dispute. If he can explain the charges then you'll feel better about it, maybe. If his math is still off, ask them to make it right. If they refuse and you've exhausted your options, let them know that you'll be posting the situation on a major AK Forum to warn other hunters. That will usually cause a tail spin, IMO.

    lb

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    Maybe throw out the comment that you are going to be taking the issue to your buddy who works at the anchorage FISDO

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Bartlett View Post
    ask for a written receipt with the breakdown of charges specifically for your review in light of a simple dispute. If he can explain the charges then you'll feel better about it, maybe. If his math is still off, ask them to make it right. If they refuse and you've exhausted your options, let them know that you'll be posting the situation on a major AK Forum to warn other hunters. That will usually cause a tail spin, IMO.

    lb
    that is the exact actions that i have taken. I was hoping they would make it right before this but they didnt so here I am on AK Forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ak-pilot View Post
    Maybe throw out the comment that you are going to be taking the issue to your buddy who works at the anchorage FISDO
    Did you mean FSDO? Are you my buddy there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by robwal1018 View Post
    Did you mean FSDO? Are you my buddy there?
    Yes sorry fat fingered it. Sorry I'm not involved in the other side of aviation...but you can say I am...

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    For those that are reading this thread and have not chartered much/ever you can use this as an example of the questions you need to ask, the answers you need to receive, and the written explanation of the services provided by your transporter.

    The simple rule to remember is: if the prop is turning someone (you) is paying. Airplanes are probably the single biggest expense for non-guided hunters. I'm no expert by any means but I have always known if the plane is going to/from where I getting dropped off or picked up that I am paying the hourly rate.

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    I have flown many times with AWA, and many others on trips that were well explained in advance. For instance. Flying in to hunt Mulchatna caribou on a charter in their Otter. Had agreed to a set amount for the charter. Not seeing many caribou, Doug calls me up front and asks what we want to do. i told him to keep flying till we see herds. He tells me how much per hour this will add to the charter. We fly till it looks like a cattle drive. No surprises, and I get a B&C bull. Woohoo. Pay up happily.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

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    Definately take him to small claims court and let the judge sort it out. They are scamming you.
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    For those that are reading this thread and have not chartered much/ever you can use this as an example of the questions you need to ask, the answers you need to receive, and the written explanation of the services provided by your transporter.

    The simple rule to remember is: if the prop is turning someone (you) is paying. Airplanes are probably the single biggest expense for non-guided hunters. I'm no expert by any means but I have always known if the plane is going to/from where I getting dropped off or picked up that I am paying the hourly rate.

    You are correct Birdstrike. For other people reading this take note. The other charters i went on were more organized up front with contracts and such. I now know not to trust anyone and get everything in writing.

  18. #18

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    For many years I have acted as an air taxi and transporter. It is common practice to charge for the aircraft and pilot to get back to the starting point when paying an hourly rate. Warren has had Theo flying out of Nelson Lagoon for ages, so when you hire an air taxi to deliver you to a certain point you will pay for both legs of the flight. If you are using a licensed transporter a contract is required prior to the flight, air taxis that are not transporters are not required to have a contract between the parties. Also remember the cost of operating in such a remote area of the state. HOPE YOU HAD A GREAT HUNT!

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    Member Ken R's Avatar
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    Things must have changed with how they are charging. When I called about that hunt a few years ago, Rod quoted me $2500/ round trip in a cub (1 guy) and Warren quoted $2000/each way with a 180 (2 guys). With 2 guys Rod would have been $5,000 and Warren would have been $4000. I booked with Warren to save some cash, but at the last minute Warren bailed on me (weather or something) and ended up with Rod at $4,500 on a last minute deal--but I was on the bottom of the list and weather cost us ~3 days of hunting. If I did it again, I would book directly with Rod--not that Warren did anything shady, but just for the piece of mind that Rod has a place to stay and knows the island. I don't know if you called anyone else to get an idea of the costs, but that is cheaper than what I was quoted a few years ago. I don't think it was anything shady, but definitely a miscommunication (or lack of). I agree that something should have been in writing--I thought it was actually a law that they had to do something like that?

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    The Big Game Commercial Services Board, requires that a Transporter and the client have a contract spelling out the costs and details of the flights and what is covered. A Transporter holds a license issued by the State and a 135 Certificate issued by the FAA, where an air taxi holds a FAA Certificate only, also the Transporter is required to report all State or Federal game violations and operate under the State laws regarding Transporters , while the Air Taxi has no obligation to do so. Its kind of a mess but that is what it has become. You can look on the BGCS Board web site and see who is a transporter.

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