Beautiful art installations, tranquil terminals made for relaxing before a flight and delectable dining are only some of the pre-and-post-boarding experiences that make private flights, and the fixed-based operators (FBOs) that service them, memorable.

With more than 5,000 airports in the United States open to private jet travelers, some FBOs will inevitably shine brighter than others. Aviation International News Online, a sister publication of Business Jet Traveler, surveyed its audience of private jet enthusiasts to evaluate FBOs across the country based on their line service, passenger and pilot amenities, facilities and CSRs.

These are the three best FBOs in the United States according to AINonline readers.

1. Pentastar Aviation, Oakland County International Airport

Based at Oakland County International in Pontiac, Michigan, Pentastar Aviation has earned AINOnline’s title of best FBO in the US for several years running.

Founded in 1964 as the private flight department for Chrysler Motor Company, Pentastar Aviation is a full-service FBO with an impressive 130,000 sq. ft. of hangar space and five-star in-house catering.

Situated seven miles west of the city center, Oakland County International Airport is ideal for private jet travelers visiting Detroit and Pontiac for business or pleasure. The airport features three paved runways for private jet charter services, including a 6,500-foot runway for larger jets. 

2. Sheltair Aviation, Tampa International Airport

Sitting just behind Pentastar Aviation and consistently in the top five in AIN’s rankings is Sheltair Aviation.

Known for its 13,000 sq. ft. arrival and departure canopy, Sheltair Aviation Services is capable of sheltering anything up to a Bombardier Global 7500. The 11,00 sq. ft. terminal also features an impressive two-story atrium with a map made of marble inlaid in the floor.

Chartering a private jet to Tampa? Tampa International Airport is one of three main airports within 25 miles of the city center. While it isn’t serviced by Sheltair Aviation Services, Tampa Executive Airport is a popular alternative to Tampa International.

3. American Aero, Fort Worth Meacham International Airport

Rounding out the top three best FBOs in the US is American Aero FTW. Loved for its tranquil terminal, sleeping facilities and one of the best bars in the business, American Aero has been near the top of the list since it opened only six years ago.

Perfectly situated for travelers with business in both Forth Worth and Dallas, Fort Worth Meacham International Airport sits only five miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth.

FBO Frequently Asked Questions

What does FBO mean at the airport?

An FBO, or fixed-based operator, is the primary provider of services for private and general aviation at the airport. Often in a building separate from the main airport, the FBO acts as the terminal for private jet flyers. As private companies, FBOs require permission from the airport authority to operate and often lease land directly from the airport. 

Why is it called an FBO?

After the First World War, aircraft were relatively inexpensive. Transient pilots would fly from city to city offering unregulated passenger flights and even performing airshows. However, airports were scarce, and pilots would land in farmers’ fields instead of at overcrowded major airports.

In 1926, the Air Commerce Act was passed, and the operations of these transient pilots became regulated. Now licensed and held to higher aircraft maintenance and training standards, these once transient pilots and aircraft mechanics established permanent businesses at a fixed base.

Do all airports have an FBO?

No, not all airports have an FBO. When you charter a private jet to a general aviation airport that does not have an FBO on site, we work with a local handling company instead. While not all airports have an FBO, most do have a comfortable waiting area for private jet passengers.

Planning a trip to Detroit, Dallas or another city with one of the best FBOs in the United States? Contact our private flight advisors at 1-888-593-9066 to charter a safe and luxurious private jet.