In 2015, chartering a private jet is the #1 travel choice for the upwardly mobile and business executives. If the concept of private jet charter is new to you, this guide will explain why so many people have made the switch from commercial air travel to private jet charters.
Why Should You Rent A Private Jet?
Different aspects of the charter flight experience appeal to different clients, but comfort, flexibility, convenience and prestige are foremost among the reasons people make the switch from commercial flights to private plane charter.
Comfort and Prestige
Once upon a time, public air travel was luxurious and sophisticated; most passengers even dressed in their finest clothes before boarding a plane. However, increased costs and lower margins for airlines, coupled with the “mainstreaming” of air travel, have turned that experience into one similar to being on a Greyhound bus: crowded, noisy, and uncomfortable, with no amenities to speak of.
Private charters allow a return to the glory days of flying. Instead of being wedged next to someone who has “interesting” tastes in cologne and in front of a hyperactive youngster with hyperactive feet, a charter jet allows passengers to relax in comfortable seats while stretching out their legs and enjoying a glass of champagne, followed by a gourmet meal. On private jets, passenger comfort and satisfaction are paramount and air travel is once again an enjoyable, relaxing experience with plenty of pampering, instead of an ordeal in a cattle car. The client has the entire plane for his traveling party, with complete privacy and a full crew dedicated to providing whatever services are needed. And passengers arrive at their destination happy and refreshed rather than aggravated and exhausted.
Flexibility And Convenience
Taking a commercial flight has become a nightmare – even before boarding the plane. First, there’s the ordeal of navigating confusing websites or waiting on overloaded phone lines just to find a flight which comes close to a traveler’s desired schedule. And since most airlines now rely on the hub-and-spoke system, there are very few nonstop flights between cities; it’s become nearly impossible to book a flight which takes you from point A to point B without at least one long layover.
Then, instead of leisurely arriving at the airport and strolling onto the plane, passengers have to arrive two hours ahead of their flight in order to run the gauntlet of full parking lots, long baggage check lines, even longer TSA security lines, and a boarding process which lasts at least 30 minutes. When they’ve finally collapsed into their seats, there’s more time wasted while the crew makes sure everyone has boarded and wrestles with carry-on baggage, followed by the endless delays until the aircraft is cleared to actually take off. Capping the experience, once the plane lands there’s the final 30-60 minute struggle to make it into the terminal and claim luggage.
Charter jet passengers suffer through very few of those time-consuming, maddening hassles. With one phone call, they are able to select the exact date and time of their flight to fit their schedule (and if necessary, they are able to reschedule their flight without the difficulties experienced by commercial travelers). In most cases, they can arrive shortly before they are scheduled to depart, park easily in a dedicated garage or lot, have their baggage and security screenings taken care of immediately, board their plane when they’re ready to do so, and take off almost immediately. There are no layovers, no unexpected delays, and no issues upon landing – they get off the plane, have their luggage within minutes, and are on their way.
There’s one other possible advantage to flying on a private jet: safety. Many travelers are concerned with the threat of terrorism at airports or on flights. When traveling on a charter, the terminal, hangars and grounds are rigidly controlled and supervised; once in the air there are no suspicious passengers to worry about. The “peace-of-mind” factor can’t be ignored for today’s travelers.
There is really no mystery to the surge in popularity for charter jet travel. Clients travel comfortably and luxuriously on their own schedule, and save countless hours doing it. It’s almost impossible to place a price tag on making it enjoyable to fly again, particularly for frequent travelers or those who place a premium on separating themselves from throngs of occasional, inexperienced fliers.
How Do You Charter A Private Jet?
The process of private jet rental is similar to that of making a flight reservation with a public carrier – with one big difference: it’s much easier. The first step is to develop an itinerary which fits your schedule; unlike selecting the commercial flights which come as close as possible to your needs, you can choose just about every parameter of your travel. Some of the considerations:
- The number of individuals, if any, flying with you
- The type of aircraft to be used
- The public or private airport closest to your destination
- The exact dates you wish to fly
- The time you wish to board your flight to the destination
- The time you wish to board the flight home
Once your itinerary is in order, you can check with a number of jet charter services to compare prices and make your reservation, either through the companies’ websites or by calling to request assistance planning your trip. Some of the major charter companies will be listed later in this article; you (or your assistant) should contact at least three different providers to get a good feel for the landscape.
If you intend to fly frequently, be sure to investigate the membership club options offered by many private jet charter companies. The benefits of these programs vary but most provide a great deal of flexibility, with favorable cancellation policies, charters which will wait up to an hour if you’re running late, and reservation priority.
Membership is usually worth the investment for frequent travelers, but it is highly advisable to first try flying with several different carriers before committing to a program. This allows you to decide which carriers best meet your tastes and needs.
What Is The Cost of a Private Jet Charter?
Much of the prestige of charter travel lies in the popular belief that the cost to charter a jet is only manageable for the extremely well-off. This was once true, but the charter jet market is now very competitive, and that competition has led to reasonable price points for those with appropriate resources. Today, you can rent a private jet without having to pay the prices that most people imagine.
Charters do cost more than commercial flights, because you are renting the entire plane and not just a few seats. The disadvantage is obvious (a higher price), but there is a major advantage for many in the corporate world. Your mode of travel is not only a means of transportation, it is also a statement about your credibility. An executive looking to close a multi-million dollar business deal is going to carry a lot more weight in the board room if he arrives on a private jet than if he has to be picked up after taking a Southwest flight.
Private jet charter cost is normally quoted per person, on an hourly basis. Two factors determine the hourly rate:
- Miles traveled one-way
- Type of jet required
The larger the plane, the higher the hourly rate. Here is a sample of private jet charter rates:
Type of Jet
|Range||Rate Per Hour|
|Long Range||5,400-7,000||$7,000-request quote|
For example, the cost of a private jet rental from New York to London would be in the range of $13,000 per person, compared the $8,000 to $10,000 a first-class flight on a public airline would cost.
Those who enjoy spur-of-the moment adventures will find that many charter jet companies offer surprising last-minute deals. These flights typically involve private jet cancellations or the need to fill an empty aircraft being moved from one location to another. These flights present relatively inexpensive opportunities for weekend trips, or for surprising a client with a weekend of skiing and networking.
How To Find The Best Charter Companies
The number of private jet charter companies has exploded over the last 20 years, and this proliferation raises safety concerns for some people. Prestige, flexibility and comfort are wonderful aspects of private jet travel, but they mean little if your pilot is incompetent or the plane isn’t safe. For that reason, determining the safety of the carriers you’re considering before comparing prices and amenities is of paramount importance.
Argus International is an independent company providing ratings for over 1,000 private jet services. Argus evaluates all pertinent information to rate each company:
- Safety history
- Flight-by-flight records
- Pilot logs of flights
- FAA administrative records
- Customer reviews of the particular operation
- The liability insurance status of the company in question
Of course, a jet is only as safe as its pilot, so Argus also evaluates the pilots for each private jet charter company:
- Completion of a full background check
- Level of pilot training
- Any complaints against the pilot
- Any history of safety infractions
- Experience level
- Pilot certifications
Combined, these factors result in a charter operation being rated at one of these levels:
- Platinum – The highest level – an excellent operation.
- Gold Plus – Very good, but doesn’t meet all Argus requirements.
- Gold – An average rating when compared to other operators.
- DNQ – Does not qualify – should be avoided.
Generally speaking, it is best to fly only with Platinum private jet charter companies. Operations with Gold Plus ratings will usually be fine. Gold and DNQ operations should be avoided.
Of course, researching Argus ratings is a difficult and tedious task. Here are some of the better-known Platinum-rated companies you may wish to consider.
XOJet is the standard bearer in the industry. The company employs the largest midsized fleet of private jets in the world and flies to 22,000 destinations, providing the flexibility necessary to reach just about any airport easily. The company offers travel-on-demand charter services, but also develops custom travel arrangements for groups and company executives who travel frequently.
XOJet is not only platinum-rated by Argus as a professional and safe charter, the company is ranked in the top two positions for each of the Argus audit criteria. In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded XOJet with the elite Diamond Award of Excellence.
XOJet can be reached online via its website or by phone; for the personal touch, they have offices in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Omni Air Transport
If you need to arrange a private jet quickly, Omni Air is a major jet charter company to seriously consider. Omni promises to have a jet headed to your destination within two hours of your order. That contrasts with most charter jet services, which require a minimum of two days to make arrangements.
Omni Air Transport is also unique because of some of the services it provides to its clientele. The company offers the standard personal and business flight options found with every jet charter service, but also can provide promotional flight services to be used in customer contests or branding campaigns. Omni even provides air ambulance services to facilitate the quick and efficient transport of injured individuals.
Omni Air flies to public and private destinations in North, South and Central America, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Europe. It flies the prestigious Lear Jet line, including the Legacy 600, Lear 60, Lear 45 and Lear 35A.
Launched in 2006, JetSuite is a charter jet company which has tailored its service to smaller groups of travelers. The company employs a fleet of Phenom 100 private jets, which are perfect for carrying up to four travelers in luxury. The Phenom is considered an elite executive travel jet, but there is no reason it can’t be used for entertainment or vacation travel as well. JetSuite also maintains a smaller fleet of CJ3 aircraft which are perfect for carrying groups of 4 to 6 travelers.
A unique aspect of JetSuite’s service is extended use of the plane. If a big meeting or client dinner runs late, the jet will sit on the tarmac until you’re ready to return, giving you the ability to change plans on the fly. The company also allows you to select an FBO terminal (those maintained by private individuals) for departures and arrivals, and to bring reasonably-sized pets on board. JetSuite guarantees the price of its trips prior to flight.
The vast majority of private jet charters solely provide air travel. Club Jet takes a more comprehensive approach to meeting clients’ needs. Based in Minneapolis, this Platinum-rated company will arrange every aspect of a trip, including:
- Four-star hotel reservations
- Luxury ground transportation
- Local entertainment reservations or arrangements
- Pet services
- Complete concierge services
Club Jet is also known for its large and varied fleet of aircraft, including Falcon 10 Light Jets, Falcon 20 Midsize Jets, Falcon 50 Supersize Midsize Jets, and Pilatus PC-12 Large Turbo Props. A fleet with a variety of jets is an important factor to consider when evaluating private jet services, since the size of a travel group often changes.
Pentastar Aviation, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is one of the oldest companies, having been in operation since 1964. Pentastar was originally the private jet division of Chrysler, responsible for transporting Chrysler executives around the world until the 1980s. Because of this background the firm takes a unique approach to customer service, providing clients with their own concierge. This “trip coordinator” is responsible for all aspects of flight arrangements, suggesting specific jets which will meet your needs, arranging for any special requirements you have in-flight, and providing ground services upon request.
Pentastar maintains both a company-owned fleet of jets and a network of privately-maintained aircraft for clients. The company-owned fleet is comprised of Gulfstream G-Vs, Gulfstream G-IVs, Falcon 2000s, Citation Sovereigns and Citation XLSs.
Private Jet Charters: Saving Valuable Time
A private jet flight is the height of luxury travel: comfort, flexibility and prestige and safety. That is why so many corporate travel managers and executives, as well as small business owners, have decided to utilize charter jets in order to maximize their most important resource: time.
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