Do You Charge Extra for Drone Photos/Video When Shooting Near an Airport?

February 27th, 2019

Kristen in Michigan asks:

I was curious if anyone charges an additional fee for drone photos/video when you are in the vicinity of smaller airports. While I personally don’t shoot aerials, my husband is a certified drone pilot. It doesn’t happen frequently living in a rural area but occasionally he finds himself having to do a little extra legwork to make calls to airports/police stations to let them know he’ll be flying in the area.

I think it makes good sense to charge extra in areas where you know you will be shooting within 5 miles of an airport or areas where you know that local police expect to be notified of a drone flight since that is going to add time to the setup and for the shoot to be legal.

If you shoot in just a handful of locations where this is required, then do it on an as-required basis or you could build that time into your price for all shoots.

What do others do in this situation?

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10 Responses to “Do You Charge Extra for Drone Photos/Video When Shooting Near an Airport?”

  • While I have not had that situation crop up, if it took extra time, like anything in a shoot that adds to your time, I would charge for it. Really no different from charging travel time for travel time beyond normal. So I would. But obviously doing so should be done in advance with the client to explain the additional charges before the client has to insure them.

  • Simple way to do it would to get create a map with an overlay of your pricing. “Areas in “Red” incur an additional fee of $$$ because of federal regulatory mandates.”

  • Now that it’s possible to get permission using LAANC, which takes maybe five minutes, I don’t charge extra. If I cannot get permission using that program I won’t fly at all. It’s worth pointing out that my clients are aware of my policy on this and are good with it. Drone photos are not a big part of what I do anyway.

  • Depends on what the client wants.
    Yes, I do charge I don’t put equipment on the sidewalk for free.
    I rarely do video just stills if I can’t shoot with a drone Ill get it with a pole simple as that.

  • My photography is billed hourly, I just add on the extra time it took to shoot any aerial work.
    It works well for me.

  • I appreciate Tom’s information. My market is not near an airport but it is always good to have the ability to quickly get permission with LAANC. For those that don’t know much about this, this includes me, here is more information:

  • Absolutely not. If you are a certified pilot, part of what you are selling is the ability to fly where others can’t. If you think its necessary to charge more, just build it into your price. If you are in a market where you have competition, they will be happy to explain what you are providing for the “added fee” – which is in reality, nothing.

  • I’m already charging a premium (per image) for drone photos. I always do a check on any restrictions when a client wants drone photos and let them know if it’s legal or not. So far, I haven’t needed to get permissions, but it’s going to happen pretty soon since there are airports and military installations dotted around my service area. If I can get clearances through LAANC, I am unlikely to add any sort of service fee. If the process gets more involved than that I may advise the client that I can’t do the drone images, it will take some time to get permission or I might need to add a service charge if I’ll be spending a bunch of time on it. Since real estate moves fast, even a delay of several days to get permissions might put them off of doing the drone images so if I can’t do it fast, there may not be a big call to spend the time on a more complex process to get permission.

    The upside is that the nicer homes in my area on big lots are not underneath airports. I can still use my pole to get elevated photos for those that are and people are always surprised what 12′-15′ will get them. They also like that PAP is free.

  • Thanks all! This is all really great! We use the drone mostly for large properties with acreage and waterfront. Airports don’t typically pose too much of an issue in our rural area but run into from time to time.

  • No. My aerials have a premium already.

    Most of my competition simply declines to fly within 5 miles of an airport. I love it. Means less competition. There are 5 towered airports in my immediate vicinity. That’s a lot of ground to give up. I suspect, the primary reason my competition avoids the airports, is being afraid to talk with ATC. If you call for your flight briefing, they’ll simply give you the phone number to the local tower. Just pick up the phone, have your script ready (know what you need to say, no bumbling), give them a call, and that’s it. Never been turned down yet.

    Now we have LAANC, it’s most airspace is going online.

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