In addition to luxurious cabin fittings and a host of amenities, many of today's private jets also in-flight connectivity systems allowing passengers to connect to the Internet in much the same manner as they would in their own homes and offices, allowing busy CEOs to conduct important business meetings at 40,000 feet. Whether it's visiting multiple clients or offices in a single day, or carrying your family to a top-level vacation destination, private jets provide an incredibly fast, safe, and secure travel alternative for you, your friends and family, and your employees, all in unmatched style and luxury.
JetSmarter, around since 2013, is an example of a player in the private aviation space selling shared flights. The company operates on a membership model: Fliers pay a minimum of $15,000 a year and book seats on already scheduled flights through the JetSmarter app, which lists more than 150 domestic and international trips a day. Trips under three hours are included in the cost of the membership while longer ones are an average of $300 a person, according to Sergey Petrossov, the company’s chief executive officer; most flights have an average of eight to 10 passengers.
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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.
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Because jet charter is not priced on a per person or ticket basis, it is not likely that it would be more cost effective for a group of 10-15 individuals to charter a jet compared with flying via scheduled airline service in coach or first class. Even if the total cost for a charter trip is split among 10 people, the cost each person would cover would still be significant.
Some other examples of prices come from Avinode, which powers a charter marketplace for brokers and operators and gathers a large amount of data on pricing. Their recent data shows the average price per hour for return trips, for various aircraft. As noted above, these rates can vary depending on when you fly, where you fly and if your flight is one way or return, plus landing fees, ramp fees and any repositioning can all add to the costs. Always ask for a fully inclusive quote from your broker or operator.
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.
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.)
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.”
Conversely, the aircraft's residual value at the end of the lease is an important consideration for the owner. The owner may require that the aircraft be returned in the same maintenance condition (e.g. post-C check) as it was delivered, so as to expedite turnaround to the next operator. Like leases in other fields, a security deposit is often required.
Charter operators own or manage private jets for multiple clients. Like traditional flight departments, charter companies handle all aspects of aircraft operation and maintenance. However, they are not aligned with just one corporation. They manage aircraft for a private owner or corporation and also handle the sales of available flight time on the aircraft they own or manage. Maintenance services can also be provided which typically include on-site or mobile repair, major and minor routine inspections, troubleshooting assistance away from base, avionics installation and repair, jet engine and battery service, interior modifications and refurbishment, Inspection Authority (IA) qualified inspectors, aircraft planning and budgetary projections, compliance with service bulletins, aircraft storage management, record keeping and management, technical appraisal of private jet purchases, leases and lease terminations, and Part 91 or Part 135 conformity inspections.