It has now been determined that the February 1st showdown in Arizona will be between the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots who are making their seventh appearance at the Big Game. The forecast for warm weather and blue skies is a good reason for fans to escape the late winter conditions of the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.
We all know that major events equate to a lot of aviation traffic, and with increased traffic comes increased challenges. Things taken for granted, like parking, hangar space, hotels and airport-specific availability can quickly become limited. Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), Scottsdale (SCF), Glendale Municipal (GEU) and other surrounding airports are requiring reservations starting Thursday the 29th of January until Monday the 2nd of February.
Along with aircraft-specific challenges for an event of this size, there is also the task of making in-flight catering arrangements. With the influx of aircraft, local caterers will be at capacity, so it is highly likely the caterer may not be able to fulfill your catering request if you try to place it on the day of the game. Just like pre-planning for the operations of the aircraft, it is a good idea to make a plan for catering the flight. Here are some helpful hints on how to have a winning game plan for the catering piece of your mission:
- Proactively contact in-flight caterers a week before your catering request for menus and suggestions. An introduction of who you are goes a long way with caterers.
- Create and plan your menu in advance and provide the request to the caterer as soon as possible. The more time you provide the caterer, the better service and food you will receive. Waiting until the last minute could result in not getting what you want due to volume or time constraints.
- If you are aware of any specialty items, like specific alcohols, eclectic or dietary foods, flowers, restaurant pick-ups or other concierge-type items, contact your in-flight caterer and ask about availability or time constraints. With the high volume of people going to the event, these items may not be readily available.
- Pick a reliable caterer and make sure they will be delivering your in-flight catering in a refrigerated truck or under properly chilled conditions. Unlike last year in New York, the weather will be warm in Arizona, and so will be your catering unless proper precautions are taken for delivery and storage. Busy aviation caterers will drive to many airports for deliveries, and food safety is a major concern.
- Pre-purchase staple items like water, lemons, juice, milk and other simple items to bring from your base. This will reduce your catering cost. Contact your FBO/handler and ask about refrigeration storage space for products you bring from your base. Keep in mind that refrigeration space will be at a premium at FBOs due to volume, so there might be an extra charge.
- If you plan to shop locally, investigate locations and record addresses and times of operations of local grocery stores. Grocery stores will be very hectic the day of the game, so if you must go shopping, consider doing it Friday or Saturday when the crowds may be a bit more tolerable.
- Order plenty of pre-departure appetizers, beverages and snacks for your passengers to enjoy while on the ramp. It is almost guaranteed that you will experience delays, so make sure passengers stay full while they wait to take off. Keep an eye on NOTAMS and TFRs throughout the week.
- Arrange for catering to be delivered 2 to 3 hours prior to departure and be on-site to inspect the contents of the catering for accuracy. In the event there needs to be an adjustment to your catering order, the more time the caterer has to recover the better the chance they will be able to fix the situation.
Following these steps will allow you to face game day with confidence and hopefully leave you with plenty of time enjoy your time on the ground in Phoenix.
If you have any questions about in-flight catering in Phoenix, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.