What Did a $26,028 Plane Ticket Buy?

Like the rest of us, you think you've had it bad traveling by air, and you've probably said to yourself, "If only I were rich and could charter my own plane, life would be trouble free."

Not so fast.

Consider the nightmare of Gregory L. Dillion, a Corona del Mar man who paid $26,028 for round trip airfare from McCall, Idaho to Miami, Florida.

(That $26,028 is not a misprint.)

In August 2009, Dillion--a partner at Newmeyer & Dillion in Newport Beach--took his family to Idaho on vacation when one of the firm's largest clients requested "a very important business meeting in Miami."

Dillion, who represents real estate developers, didn't want to take a $1,000 commercial flight so he had one of his assistants charter and him a luxury, eight-seat jet for the trip. He had specific instructions that he had to arrive at Miami International Airport in time to check into a hotel, shower and prepare for this critical 9 a.m. meeting. The charter service, RD Air Service, agreed they would pick him up at 9 p.m. the night before and, after re-fueling in Tulsa, land in Miami by 5:30 a.m.

But Dillion claims his chartered jet took another job in Las Vegas and didn't pick him up at McCall's airport. Not only was pilot Jeffery Otis Nostrom four hours late, he flew to Boise's airport, making Dillion drive almost three hours to get there. He landed in Miami at 10:30 a.m.

How did the lawyer react?

Yes, he's seeking damages from the charter service because he paid a "premium" price for excellent service and ended up "extremely embarrassed" by showing up late for a key business meeting, according to suit filed this week in Orange County Superior Court.

Dillion wouldn't have chartered the jet if he'd known RD Air "would not be able to fulfill its promises," the suit alleges. He claims the company--which is based in Gainesville, Florida--is "guilty of oppression, fraud, malice and reckless and despicable conduct."

RD Air Services has not yet filed a legal reply.

(Dillion's firm employs Republican Van Tran, the former Little Saigon state Assemblyman who lost a 2010 race to unseat Orange County's lone Democrat in Congress, Loretta Sanchez.)

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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