JetSuite.com, which flies to more than 2,000 airports, aggregates private jet flights with empty seats to offer daily “next-day” deals. You can rent the entire plane — a max of 6 seats — starting at just $536 each way, which shakes out to less than $90 per person. Past deals have included a flight for six people from Oxford, Conn., to Philadelphia for $536.43 (that’s about $90 per person, which includes the 7.5% federal excise tax), a flight for four people from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for $499 (that’s about $124 per person); for four people from Orange County, Calif., to Chicago for $536 (that’s about $135 per person); and for six people from Teterboro (in New Jersey, near New York City) to Nassau, Bahamas, for $1,074 (that’s about $179 per person). (In all of the above cases, to get the per person rate, you must book all seats on the plane.)
The most economical option is chartering, which doesn't require any cash upfront (other than a deposit) through companies like Tradewind, Sentient, and Solairus, (which we took home from North Carolina). Of course, there are the old standbys like NetJets and Marquis, who sell fractional ownership (like 1/16th) of a single jet for upwards of $100K. One step down from that, pricewise, is the jet card, where you buy a set amount of hours from a company like Nicholas or Private Jet Services, and can use those hours for different planes. Then there are membership models like WheelsUp, where you pay $17,500 as an initiation fee to fly in their fleet, and then a $8,500 annual dues fee starting the second year. It's like a country club—only you're guaranteed access to a KingAir350i or Citation Excel / XLS instead of a golf course.
Privacy is one of the main advantages of a charter flight. Unlike a commercial flight, where travelers are herded through a crowded airport, having to undergo an intrusive security screening, passengers on a charter flight depart from a private facility known as an FBO. At most private airports, passengers can pull their cars right up to the plane.
At 102 in (259 cm), the G650ER has the widest cabin yet but should be joined by the Falcon 5X (a Global 5000/G500 competitor) and its replacement, and the 4,500 nmi (8,300 km) Citation Hemisphere in 2021; at 98 in (249 cm), the Global 7000/8000 is wider than the 95 in (241 cm) Global 5000/6000, the same as the Gulfstream G500/G600 and the Canadair Challenger, while the Dassault Falcon 8X is 92 in (234 cm) wide and the G450/G550 88 in (224 cm).
The Private Jet category encompasses a wide variety of aircraft, of many different sizes and capabilities ranging from aircraft optimized for relatively short-range regional travel, to large cabin aircraft able to traverse entire continents and oceans. These aircraft are manufactured by worldwide companies including Beechcraft, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault Aviation, Embraer, Gulfstream, Hawker, Learjet, and Pilatus. Additionally, Airbus and Boeing build exclusive, private variants of many of the same aircraft operated by commercial airlines throughout the world.
No matter what company you're flying with, be sure to ask if there two pilots or one. (Though two pilots are standard on commercial flights, regulations vary for private planes of all sizes.) It also helps to ask if the operator owns the plane—typically, companies that own their planes offer better service. Never forget to ask about daily minimums and taxi fees. "If the hourly rate is $9,000 and you have a single 40-minute flight, you might assume you are going to pay $6,000," says Doug Gollan, creator of PrivateJetCardComparisons.com. "But if your provider has a daily minimum of 1.5 hours, you are going to actually be charged $13,500, plus taxi time, which in my comparisons I have found varies between being included and up to 12 minutes per segment."
Manufactured by Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier, the Challenger name encompasses a family of aircraft billed as “the best-selling business jet platform of the last decade.” All Challenger jets feature fuel-efficient turbofan engines, true “walk-about” cabins, and a supercritical wing design offering impressive climb and cruise performance at lower thrust settings.