Booking a flight can be stressful, with hidden costs like printing out your ticket at the airport, bringing an extra bag, or even selecting your seat adding to the financial strain of your trip. This is part of the reason why more and more people are beginning to book private jets for their travel as an often surprisingly affordable way to fly (if you plan it right).
Boasted as a preferred way to travel, companies like JetSmarter have members ranging in age from 26 years old to 55, who share private planes and book their rentals through an app to gain access to popular travel destinations, in a luxury atmosphere, with trips from LA to Vegas costing around $400 USD. Companies such as JetSmarter increased their membership by 110 percent in 2017 and were projected to increase it another 100 percent growth for the end of 2018.
While many of us see private jets as something reserved for owners of billion-dollar companies and celebrities, more and more average folk are flying private jets all the time. Here are 25 things most people don’t know about flying in a private jet that might have you looking into this option for your next vacation.
While there are many people who travel in private jets to meet demanding work schedules, the most popular events travelled to are completely entertainment based, or at the very least a social way to network with business partners.
The most popular event to travel to via a private jet is the Super Bowl, with people arriving in style to the elite sporting event. The next most popular events are also sporting ones, with The Kentucky Derby and the U.S. Masters Golf Championship rounding out the top three events travelled to via private planes.
Pricing for a private jet isn’t nearly as expensive as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, a lot of the time on a per person price point, it’s cheaper than flying first class or business class per seat (depending on the flight, airline, and destination). Those renting a private jet don’t do so by the person, most rates are calculated on an hourly basis, so a group of five to 10 people who can coordinate their travels may end up saving money when they rent a jet compared with booking a flight with a major provider.
People are thinking outside of the box when it comes to travel, and renting a private jet is no different. Douglas Quinby, a travel market-research company analyst says, “There’s clear potential to expand the market and there is definitely a ton of excess supply — private jets sitting on runways or flying under capacity.”
Today companies like JetSmarter and JetSuiteX are seeing more and more competition through companies such as LinearAir, BLADE, and Victor, which will continue to bring pricing down, and put more people on private jets.
The bigger the jet, the more people it can hold, and the farther it can fly. Light to mid-range jets hold six to nine passengers and can travel up to 2,100 to 2,700 miles; Super mid-sized to heavy jets can carry eight to 16 passengers, and travel 3,600 miles to 4,500 miles; and ultra-long-range models can hold up to 17 passengers and fly up to 7,500 miles in a single journey.
People travelling with a lot of gear (think ski or golf trips) are best to book a Citation Excel, Citation X, and the Embraer Legacy 600, known for being able to haul more stuff on flights.
Flying has become a lot more casual in the past few decades, with people moving away from wearing their Sunday best to a more lounge-wear inspired uniform for comfort on commercial flights. There is however a slightly more formal dress code for those flying in a private Jet.
Andrew Collins, president and CEO of Sentient Jet, says, “If you are flying private on your own flight or flying as the guest of a friend or relative, you still want to make sure to dress neatly, but nice jeans are likely fine. If you are traveling with a client or business associate, however, you may want to dress a bit more formally depending on the individual. For families, more casual attire is also acceptable, though children and young adults should still avoid overly casual dress such as sweatpants or gym clothes.”
While private jets afford you the freedom to travel where you want, with many airports available, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to fly non-stop to Australia next week. Because of the size of these planes, there are limitations on how far you can travel, and for longer trips, you’ll need to schedule refueling stops, and time for your pilot to rest.
One benefit of flying private is that you can schedule your stops where and when you want (within reason), and have dinner in one city, check out sunset somewhere else, and then sleep on the last leg of your journey.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, or the speed capabilities of a jet based on the size of its engine. Generally, private jets are just as speedy as commercial ones. The basic rule on speed capabilities is as follows, small planes are a little bit slower than commercial jets, while medium-sized ones are a little bit faster.
Aside from time in the air, what makes flying private faster is that you’re spending less time on the ground, and can plan your own, often more direct travel path.
Many people think they can bring unlimited luggage on a flight when they’re flying private, but there are still weight restrictions. In addition to weight requirements, you also need to account for the size of the luggage compartment door, and how many people are travelling with you, and what they’re bringing.
Smaller sized jets can allow for each person (seven total for the flight) to bring a standard sized piece of rolling luggage onto their flight. Anyone looking to bring something bigger, heavier, or unconventional on their flight should decide in advance.
Just because you’re a VIP flying private doesn’t mean that you don’t have to follow the rules of flying, especially if you’re enjoying an international flight. While these security procedures are often lessened when flying private, they’re still present and those travelling need to make sure they have valid photo ID for flying within the country, and their up to date passports for when travelling outside of the country.
The benefit of flying private is that most international airports have special terminals for those flying private, and these checks are often met with fewer lines and faster service.
Any cab or uber driver who has been on the job for more than a week knows where the local airport is, however, those flying private may find it’s harder to locate other off the beaten path airports, so make sure you know where you’re going.
In addition, these terminals that specialize in private flights don’t get the same foot traffic, so while you’re waiting you aren’t as likely to have access to VIP lounges, fancy coffees, or other luxury service options available at bigger airports.
Commercial flights operate with two pilots, while smaller planes don’t have to fly with a two-member crew, but just the same many charter companies boast two pilots to help keep travellers’ minds at ease, and make safety a priority. There are times when a pilot may become incapacitated during a trip, so it’s always a good measure to have another person who is able to take over the controls to increase the safety of your flight.
Experts recommend making sure that your pilots are experienced in the conditions where you’re travelling, for example, if your flight is to Aspen during the winter, you want to know they can handle any potential winter weather systems coming in.
A huge perk of flying private is that you don’t need to deal with as much security red tape. In many cases you can show up using your ‘ramp access’ just 15 to 30 minutes before your flight. While James Bond may tell the pilot to ‘get the place ready’ and take off in a matter of seconds or minutes, logistical issues like customs, immigration, and ensuring that you aren’t taking off at the same time as other flights are realities of flying private.
Just because you’re flying private it doesn’t mean that your plane won’t ‘stand in line’ awaiting take-off.
Some people may be concerned that it’s not as safe to fly in a private jet as it is in a commercial one. Private jets must maintain the same air safety and maintenance regulations as their commercial jet competitors. Private jets are usually fleets of younger planes, with newer technology, including improved safety technology. Another item that can help calm the nerves of flyers is that when you’re on a private jet you can control not only who the pilot is, but also who the fellow guests are around you.
There are so many more airport options for those flying with private jets. In the United States alone private jets have access to over 5,000 airports for their landing and taking off, while commercial jets can only fly in and out of 550 airports. There are more of these airports since these planes are smaller and don’t need the long runways necessary for commercial jets. Because of the wide selection, planes can land and take off in more convenient locations allowing for faster travel to and from the airport.
Owning a jet isn’t the most common way to travel on one, but just the same people and businesses will make purchases to hold meetings in the sky and get where they need to go faster. Many businesses are opting to become fractional owners of their jets, meaning you purchase a percentage of a plane, and the hours you’re allowed each year are dependent on the percentage of the plane you own.
Other people opt to get memberships with private jet carriers, like Surfair, and pay anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 dollars each month for the convenience of unlimited travel.
Flying private allows you to pick many areas of the route of your travel. In addition to this, there are several destinations that you can only reach using a private plane.
For true VIP travel only, a private jet will take you to exclusive destinations like Anguilla (a Caribbean destination known for white beaches), the mountains of Telluride Colorado, Spectacle Island (Maine), Lanai, Hawaii, or St. Moritz, Switzerland. So, consider making your private charter about seeing and doing what you wouldn’t be able to when flying commercial.
Many of us believe that if you book a private jet you can sit wherever you want, but that’s not exactly true. This is more of an etiquette issue than a safety one, but it’s best practice to let the owner of the jet, or person who booked the trip select their seat prior to claiming dibs themselves. Don’t forget, that much like attending a dinner or party, it’s also polite to bring your host a gift to thank them for allowing you to fly with them.
Red wine might calm your nerves, but most of the time you’re not going to find it on a private jet. The reason behind this is that during moments of turbulence it could spill and cause a lot of damage to carefully designed interiors. Another note, when flying private don’t try to sneak booze onto the plane to sip on during your flight.
You’re allowed to bring it on board, and it’s often encouraged as a host gift to give to the person who invited you on the plane, so simply give it to the flight crew and they can even put it on ice for you.
Just because flying in a private plane may seem like a luxurious option, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your pilot is getting paid top dollar. In fact, your pilot is likely more involved in your overall flight experience and maybe the person to load your luggage or even help clean up after you’re gone, so consider giving a tip to thank them. Tips can range anywhere between 20 dollars and a thousand depending on who you are, what your budget is, and the length of the journey.
While jets can be booked the same day, with many people booking just twelve hours before their flight, the earlier you book the more choice you’ll have in terms of the aircraft, crew, and your overall experience. Danielle Talbott, Regional Vice President of Sales, XOJet says, “Choosing the right aircraft for the right purpose depends on several factors. For business travelers, clients are seeking to maximize their workday and minimize travel time.
This might mean a specific aircraft type with short-runway performance that can operate at a small airport close to the location of an important meeting. Or it could mean an aircraft with Wi-Fi to continue working onboard. For personal and family travel, it’s really a matter of personal preferences but factors like pets and luggage can come into play in addition to general considerations like the size and comfort of the cabin.”
An interesting stat from Forbes shared that around the globe, six percent of private jet flights aren’t for humans, they’re for pets. They’re booked by people who worry about conditions on commercial flights, and how commercial flights usually require pets to spend the entire flight in a cage and stored with luggage and other cargo.
People on private charters know their pet is safe, and with you in a safe, comfortable, and less stressful environment. Just make sure that your pet has up to date travel documentation to ensure they have a smooth flight.
One of the benefits of being rich and famous is that you can own your own private jet. Celebs who own their own planes include: Oprah Winfrey (Bombardier Global Express XRS), Jim Carrey (Gulfstream V), Jackie Chan (Embraer Legacy 650), Jay-Z (Bombardier Challenger 850 Learjet), Cristiano Ronaldo (Gulfstream G650), Jimmy Buffet (Grumman HU-16 Albatross “Hemisphere Dancer”), and Lionel Messi (Embraer Legacy 650).
Other celebs not only own a private jet, but they also fly them. Celebs who can fly a plane themselves include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Kurt Russell, Morgan Freeman, and Dr. Phil.
It’s at your own discretion just how customized you want your flying experience to be. Those who own their own plane will obviously have an interior designer make things to their own specifications, but even those renting can impact the way the plane looks while they travel.
Demands can be made for music playing during the flight or putting in specific party décor for a bachelor party, birthday party, or just a theme night for the atmosphere where the décor matches the food. Anything is possible, it just depends on how much you want to pay.
People flying private can usually drive right up beside their jet and then easily unload their luggage from their trunk, and board. There is some etiquette to follow surrounding parking your car when flying private.
Denise Wilson, Founder, President, and CEO of Desert Jet says, “Set your wheels opposite the aircraft, set the car in park and set the parking brake to prevent it from rolling into the airplane. I’ve personally witnessed, more than once, a driver exiting the car and the car start rolling slowly towards the aircraft!”
Private jets have one to two pilots and at least one flight attendant to tend to your needs. The number of staff will depend on the company you book with, and any additional requests you might make to help enhance your private flight experience.
If you’re flying for business most companies offer a special person, like an administrator to help take minutes at your meeting. Other people who are taking a relaxation trip may want to book a masseuse to help them unwind during the flight.