Interior of an fbo terminal, decorated in a modern wood and stone motif.
Atlantic Aviation's FBO in Salt Lake City (image courtesy of Atlantic Aviation)

What Is A Fixed-Base Operator?

For private jets and charter flights, fixed-base operators offer a much smoother and easier experience than larger commercial airport terminals. 

Fixed-base operators – or FBOs – are the equivalent of terminals for private jets and planes, and are typically found in smaller, secondary, or private airports.

Using an FBO lets you arrive at the airport and get to your plane in minutes while avoiding the crowds and long lines for check-in and security.

In addition to convenience, FBO’s are known for providing  great customer service and exceptional amenities.

FBOs are typically privately run; Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation are two of the biggest fixed-base operator companies.

Size and service offerings vary, although airports serving international flights tend to have a broader scope of amenities such private restroom facilities, showers and catering options.

outside view of Atlantic Aviation's Fixed-base operator at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta, a modern aluminum glad building with a covered entryway for vehicles
Atlantic Aviation's FBO at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta (image courtesy of Atlantic Aviation)
a fixed-base operator seating area that looks out on the tarmac
Atlantic Aviation's FBO in Louisville (image courtesy of Atlantic Aviation)

What Does FBO Stand For?

FBO stands for fixed-base operator, and these are the private aviation version of airport terminals. They are usually found in general aviation and smaller airports. FBOs also provide aviation services to aircraft operators such as flight planning, aviation fuel, aircraft maintenance, and hangar space.

Where does the term term fixed-base operator come from? It dates to the early 1900s when civil aviation was novel and unregulated. Pilots could choose where to land, – often in farm fields – and would also offer to train anyone who wanted to learn how to get to the air.

The Air Commerce Act of 1926 formalized and standardized training, requiring pilots to get a license before they could fly. Pilots and plane owners began setting up permanent flying businesses and adopted the name fixed-base operators. This was intended to distinguish between the new permanent facilities and the earlier ad hoc, temporary ones.

What Services Do Fixed-Base Operators Offer?

Modern-day FBOs play a vital role in private aviation, ensuring passengers get high-quality services while also serving aircraft operators and their planes.

Services and amenities for flyers include:

Ground Transportation

FBOs may have shuttle services to help you get to your final destination, and transportation for charter flight passengers is often luxury buses and chauffeur-driven cars.

Concierge Services

FBOs usually have staff who can act as concierges. They go a long way in helping you with getting ground transportation, renting a car, and booking accommodations. They can also advise and provide local information such as dining, attractions, and services.


You can sink into a comfortable chair and enjoy your favorite show or get some work done before proceeding on your journey, and many offer complimentary coffee, refreshments, and wifi.

Waiting in a fixed-base operator for your private flight can be a comfortable and relaxing way to wait until takeoff.

Business Facilities

FBO’s can make waiting for business flights more pleasant, and often include quiet desk areas to work from, free wi-fi, and audio/visual conference rooms. Whether you’re flying for pleasure or business, you can conduct business activities while saving time and without losing productivity

Much Better Restrooms

Even though airports have restrooms, FBOs take them to the next level. They offer luxury amenities comprising private showers and changing rooms with luxurious fittings and décor to make you feel at home away from home.

Pet Facilities

Most FBOs are pet friendly so that you can wait for your flight as a family. Some facilities have indoor or outdoor dog “restrooms.”

How Are FBOs Different From Commercial Airport Terminals?

While offering many of the same functions and full services as commercial airport terminals, FBOs do so at a more personal and accommodating level while serving far fewer people. The facilities themselves are much smaller. Fixed-base operators at larger commercial airports are often located separately from commercial terminals.

Commercial airport terminals are designed for heavy use by large numbers of commercial airline passengers. Services such as baggage handling, check-in, and security screening, often involve crowded terminals, long lines, and lengthy waits.

What Are the Benefits of Fixed-Base Operators?

More Privacy

With many private flyers wanting to maintain their privacy, fixed-base operators ensure much more privacy than commercial airline terminals. This can be especially desirable for those wishing to keep details of their trips private, such as public figures, high-level executives, or anyone keeping a lower profile.

You Can Drive Right Up

If you intend to board your plane within the shortest time possible, FBOs are your best option, because you can drive right up to them. There’s no more trekking across airports from distant parking lots and garages or waiting to be dropped off at commercial terminals.

Better Amenities

While first and business-class lounges can be comfortable, FBOs go that extra mile with standard amenities such as Wi-Fi, coffee, snacks, luxurious lounges, and private restrooms.

More Personalized Service

The quality of service offered at fixed-base operators is top-level because they serve a tiny number of passengers compared to commercial airports, as well as a higher-end clientele.

Private flight passengers have the opportunity to regularly meet your pilots, and they’ll often walk you to your plane.

Fast Check-In and Boarding

Check-in, security, and boarding are much faster than at the commercial airport terminal because there are no endless lines or long waits. The typical waiting time before boarding is five minutes, while some FBOs even allow you to drive right up to the plane.


One of the benefits of private flights and FBOs is that you have a flexible schedule of flights on your terms and schedule. FBOs are much more accommodating than airlines when you run late or have an abrupt change in plans

Many FBOs have their own parking nearby and employees to help guide you to parking, which is often close by.

When you arrive at an FBO, all you need to do is go to the reception area and check-in. There, you’ll provide the tail number of your aircraft received from the operator or broker when booking the flight.

The staff will guide you through the process and summon the pilots to greet and escort you to your plane.

A staff of the FBO will assist you with your luggage when you arrive. They will coordinate with the flight crew to ensure you have a seamless traveling experience.

If you’re interested in private jet or charter flights, see what makes Linear Air different from ordinary charter brokers.

Contact us to learn more – simply call 1-877-2-LINEAR.

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