Fliers with flexibility should sign up for empty-leg email lists of companies like Magellan Jets, who regularly send out emails selling discounted flights from, say, the plane of a corporate exec who flew to Los Angeles but is looking to offset his cost of getting the plane back to New York. “I wouldn’t say that the cost of flying private has gone down, but there are new ways of pricing charter that makes it more accessible,” says David Zipkin, co-founder and VP of Tradewind, the service known for semi-private flights in the Northeast and Caribbean. “In our case, we save people money with our shared charters, and we also sell discounted empty legs.”
If you’re flexible both on when you fly and where you fly, you’ll likely get the best deals, says Trance. Call the company and ask about the cost differences between, say, a Saturday and a Tuesday and see if you can fly into a nearby airport. Fridays and Sundays tend to be the most expensive times to travel, says Justin Sullivan, the co-founder of FLITE Air Taxi. And, of course, last-minute deals can be significant so it may be worth waiting until about 72 hours before you want to fly to find deals, says Trance, though this is, of course, risky.
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A public charter is one in which a tour operator rents the aircraft and advertises and sells seats to members of the public, either directly or through a travel agent. In the case of public charters, the flight must be filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the tour operator must supply a charter prospectus. The tour operator also must assume a legal responsibility to provide the transportation service, and must abide by DOT requirements for the protection of the clients' money. Public charters often operate only seasonally, and are often sold as part of a vacation package deal, although spare seats may be offered at bargain prices.
Waiting until the last minute isn’t an option for most travelers, of course. For those whose schedules can’t accommodate a last-minute booking, there are other options, though they can be pricier. West Coast airline Surf Air offers unlimited private plane flights to and from roughly a dozen California and Nevada locales like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Santa Barbara for $1,750 per month (plus a one-time $1000 initiation fee); the airline operates up to 90 flights each day and it added Monterey, Calif., to its list of itineraries on July 13, 2015.
The key words here are prop planes, turboplanes, and light jets. Prop planes like the Cessna Caravan are popular because they're roomy (the seats are like business class, and often configured face to face). More popular these days are planes like the six- to eight-seater Pilatus PC-12, and KingAirs, which fly faster and feel more like jets. And then you get into light jets like Learjets, Embraer Phenom 300s, and Citation CJ3s, and Hawkers, all of which are sleeker and more streamlined, and can fly for four to five hours, for slightly longer trips.
In October 2017 Jetcraft forecasts 8,349 unit deliveries in the next decade for $252 billion, a 30.2 $M average. Cessna should lead the numbers with 27.3% of the deliveries ahead of Bombardier with 20.9% while Gulfstream would almost lead the revenue market share with 27.8% trailing Bombardier with 29.2%. For 2016-2025, Jetcraft forecasted Pratt & Whitney Canada should be the first engine supplier with 30% of the $24B revenue, in front of the current leader Rolls-Royce at 25%. Honeywell will hold 45% of the avionics $16B revenue ahead of Rockwell Collins with 37% and Garmin.