Are these lower prices the reason more Americans are chartering planes? Virtuoso’s statistics indicate that the number of private charter trips increased by 10 percent from 2014 to 2016, and statistics from the research company Euromonitor show that the number of passengers in the United States who chartered planes increased from 4.88 million in 2013 to 5.32 million in 2016 (this number excludes helicopter charters).
An affinity charter is slightly different in that, although all of the passengers are affiliated with a specific business, group or organization, each pays his own air fare. The passengers might sports or music fans traveling to a special event, or a bunch of friends going on vacation. With this type of charter, none of the seats can be sold to members of public.
Because the cost of a high-end modern private aircraft may be tens of millions of dollars, lending for aircraft purchases is accompanied by a security interest in the aircraft, so that the aircraft may be repossessed in event of nonpayment. It is generally very difficult for borrowers to obtain affordable private unsecured financing of an aircraft purchase, unless the borrower is deemed particularly creditworthy (e.g. an established carrier with high equity and a steady cash flow).
For those who don't mind mingling with strangers, companies like Tradewind offer shuttles between places like New York and Boston, Stowe, and Nantucket, as well as Caribbean Islands like St. Barth's and Anguilla. (Flights begin at $250 plus tax each way.) The bonus? On a route from from San Juan to St. Barth's, a Tradewind rep will meet you at your terminal and help shuttle you through. JetSuiteX, affiliated with JetBlue, sells seats on planes between Burbank and Las Vegas.
Ms. Broder frequently books private jets for clients and gets a weekly list from several private jet companies of empty leg availability for the coming week (other agents specializing in private jet travel also get similar lists). Recent flights included an $8,500 trip from Naples to Cleveland on a Beechjet 400A, a plane that seats seven people, and a $6,500 trip from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Colorado Springs on a Learjet 45XR, accommodating eight fliers.
Aircraft charter brokers have entered the marketplace through the ease of setting up a website and business online. Aircraft charter operators are legally responsible for the safe operation of aircraft and charter brokers require no economic authority and are largely unregulated. The Department of Transportation requires that air charter brokers disclose to the consumer that they do not operate aircraft and cannot use terms like "our fleet of aircraft", "we operate", "our charter service" and others.
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."
When it comes to small planes, weight matters. Don't be surprised when your contact emails you for all passenger weights, and when the pilot organizes seating by weights. (You don't want the three biggest people on the right side, for instance.) Similarly, don't expect to bring two weeks of stuff for a weekend, and definitely mention if you're planning on bringing golf clubs or skis. If they don't fit, check out ShipSticks or LuggageForward, which sends your equipment beforehand for a relatively small fee.