Beware the middleman!
In the recent months many websites have popped up offering skydiving gift certificates and attempting to book reservations for skydiving.
They appear to be representing a skydiving center in your local area and make claims that they have the highest skydiving safety record, use the best equipment, have been serving the local area for a long time, offer the least expensive skydive, and have the closest jumping location to metropolitan areas.
However, these websites are actually nothing more than a middleman or skydiving reservation agency which costs you money. Be leery of their many misrepresentations!
To help you determine if a website represents an actual skydiving center:
- Does the website provide a business address for the drop zone?
- Does the website include specific information about their facilities such as the airport name, spectator areas, or type of runway?
- Does the website claim to be a National Skydiving Association (NSA) participating skydiving center? The NSA is fictional.
The only regulatory agency for sport skydiving in the USA is the United States Parachute Association (USPA). The USPA is a membership organization that maintains and regulates a group member listing of drop zones which abide by the association's Basic Safety Regulations.
Still not sure if they are legitimate, call the 800 number and ask where they are located. If they cannot answer immediately without asking where you are calling from, then you have reached the middle man! When you call to make a skydiving reservation, be sure you are speaking to an actual employee of the drop zone where you will make your skydive.
You might be asking "why not go through one of these agencies?"
- Bogus fees: Airport Fee, Homeland Security Fee, Poor Weather / Re-Schedule Fee, or Gear Rental are tacked on after you have already provided your credit card information. You may be led to believe you are only paying $165 for a tandem skydive. However, when the reservation is complete and you add up the fees, your bill can quickly exceed $250. The Homeland Security Fee is especially troublesome, since it preys on our fears of terrorism and your belief that you are contributing to National Security.
- Location and distance: The agent will only book you with a participating skydiving center, sometimes several hours away, when we are only 20 miles north of Seattle!
- Deceptive business practices: They employ a template website which offers the same facts and pictures across the country, but claim to represent a local drop zone. There is no such place as Skydive Seattle/Skydive Washington. Even more troubling is the fact that these agencies fabricate reasons not to do business with reputable drop zones that choose not to be affiliated with them.
- Low budget operations: Usually, the skydiving center in the area who is participating with these booking agencies is so small and low budget that they are unable to market for themselves. And if they can't afford marketing, how can they afford good instructors, quality gear, or have properly maintained aircraft?
Making a skydive is an experience you will remember and cherish for life. It is important that this experience be performed by a competent, professional center associated with the United States Parachute Association. Choosing to make a reservation with an agency which makes claims of, but has no control over, safety, instructors and equipment quality is literally throwing caution into the wind. Do your research before you skydive. Your safety and enjoyment depend on it.
Skydive Snohomish is not affiliated with any sort of middleman or central reservation systems. Supporting those types of businesses compromises the integrity of our operations and the skydiving community as a whole.