The Fastest Way to Become a Millionaire…

… is still to ‘start off with a billion dollars and invest in an airline.’

From the annals of really stupid startup airline ideas, PlaneBuzz shakes its head at the application to the Department of Transportation for the launch of Family Airlines (website down as I write this).

A Las Vegas-based carrier a la defunct-National Airlines, operating 747s domestically. And they’re touting a theoretically-impossible 539 coach seats on the main deck while maintaining 31-inch pitch. Oh, and 42 business class seats on the upper deck (United’s 747s have 26 business class seats on the upper deck, admittedly this is meant for long-haul international flights, but 42 seats won’t be comfy; the ancient Thai Airways 747s used to have 40 seats up there in business).

The CEO of the airline tried to start it up about sixteen years ago, but financial irregularities prevented it from getting off the ground.

The company, which was active from 1992-1993 was far enough along in the process to have aircraft painted in their livery[2] and hire and advertising agency.[3] The airline had the backing of 65 former Pan American pilots.[4] This turned out to be a failed attempt to found a low-cost carrier in 1992-1993. Due to financial irregularities, the company was denied DOT/FAA flight certification.

On June 19, 1996 a court ruled that the married Barry Michaels and Holly S. Michaels participated in the fraudulent offering of $5 million of unregistered stock.[5]

What’s their business model?

Family Airlines says it will start with two airplanes flying JFK-LAX-MIA (reminiscent of another and defunct 747 operator – Tower Air) with fares ranging from $19 to $69.

Casinos in Vegas, with the odds always in favor of the house, are a far better bet than investing in Family Airlines…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. From a 2007 version of their website, courtesy of, they want to make money on extra passenger services and freight.

    “The primary source of revenue for most airlines is passenger ticket sales, however at Family it will be quite a different picture. In fact the company plans to develop alternative profit centers that will generate approximately fifty percent of the airlines total revenue, thus limiting the reliance on passenger ticket sales. Presently these alternative profit centers include, optional in-flight food service, individual seat back movies and video games, sky phones, shop by mail, internet and e-mail access, all available for an additional cost by credit card. In addition, the transport of cargo and mail will represent a significant increase in income with very little increase in operational cost. The uniqueness of this Boeing 747-400 aircraft is its ability to carry 70,000 pounds of freight on pallets, along with a full load of passengers.”

  2. Hey Dan,

    You’re beating a dead horse with a stick. That same comment has been stated on every single blog & forum regarding Family Airlines. Can ANY of you guys be a little more original please? Can you find anything else to criticize besides their website design, the fact that Michaels is running for congress, or that he is a convicted criminal?

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