Companies like Surf Air and FLITE Air Taxi can charge less than big-name competitors, in part, because they use different planes — like, for example, single-prop turbo planes — that cost less to operate because they use less fuel than larger jets. “The operational cost can be a fraction of other planes,” says Justin Hart, vice president of Surf Air memberships.
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.”
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.
Because a charter flight is not part of a scheduled service, the flight will depart when you want it to. You are also able to choose which cities you fly to and from. Charter Flights are particularly convenient when you need to travel to a city where scheduled airline service may require multiple connections or layovers before you reach your destination.
And typically, you can’t just buy one discount ticket on these planes; they’ll want you to pay for the whole cost of the plane, so you’ll need to find a group to go with you to get the most savings. Plus, if you want to save big, you likely won’t get a brand-new primo jet, as these tend to cost more. And finally, there’s the issue of safety: Private chartered planes tend to get in more crashes than commercial jets — though they are still far safer than cars. Most small-plane accidents were due to pilot error, so call the private jet company to determine how many hours of flying experience your pilot has.
Though the early Lockheed Jetstar had four, most production business jets have two jet engines, mostly rear-mounted podded engine. If mounted below their low wing, it wouldn't allow sufficient engine clearance without a too long landing gear. The HondaJet is the exception with its over the wing engine pods. Dassault Falcon still builds three-engine models derived from the Falcon 50, and the very light jet market has seen several single-engine design concepts and the introduction of the Cirrus Vision SF50 in 2016.