Its compelling to write about private air travel today because it is getting excitingly more accessible to the middle class; people like you and me. This democratization happened slowly, with ebbs and flows in private air travel, accessibility being thought of as only the domain of the rich and famous – “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” as Robin Leach from a famous TV show would say.
There are changes in the political, social and economic environment that are playing a forcing function, causing a larger number of professionals and their families to rethink the concept of flying privately, not as simply something frivolous, a nice-to-have, but something more necessary and strategically important. Primary among the changes is the greater availability of well-maintained commercial aircraft, the sophistication of navigation equipment that allows for single pilot commercial flights, and the logistical difficulties imposed on travelers by the authorities post 9/11.
Let me provide a point of view on the considerations and objections previously made that are being overcome by the industry and air travel environment.
1. Circumvent Airport Hassle!
In private air travel, convenience is the key. You usually fly out of a smaller airport in a limo normally arranged by the charter service for you and your family at little more cost than a cab. Your kids, their equipment and bags, are stowed for you in the plane with access to belongings while you are airborne. The treatment of you, your family and friends are top notch and it’s an experience worth every penny.
Let’s not forget, except for an online background check prior to flight, there is no TSA to deal with!
It’s true that flying private is generally more expensive than the cost of a commercial airline ticket; however, it is possible to find great deals with Charter Airlines these days. It’s also possible to find flights to a greater number of locations at odd times! Charter companies like Potomac Air are making this happen. For example, all seats filled, you could fly from Washington DC in a seven-seater private aircraft for around $500 per person – not bad at all!
There is also the opportunity of buying seats on “empty legs,” where charter flights are returning without any passengers and will often discount these empty legs for a deep discount. Though, locations and legs are limited and hard to predict.(1)
Scheduling these days is a breeze. Many charters will quote you rates quickly online, but often there are hidden fees you should be aware of. To overcome these cost overruns, some enterprising entrepreneurs, like YouCanJet of Washington DC, offers a sophisticated web-based private jet charter application, providing the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia the convenience of reserving the area’s best priced aircraft with a few simple clicks. No membership fees and no hidden charges—YouCanJet aims to make flying private easy and affordable.
4. VIP Treatment
Goes without saying that private aviation is known for this. When on a private aircraft, expect VIP treatment, that includes gourmet meals, champagne and reclining seats offering luxurious comfort. You can get connectivity with the internet and with phone services that are available throughout the flight. The level of personalization is extreme and you feel like you are in your own study or office. (2)
This is a difficult one to defend, so I’m not going to. Private charter flying has had more accidents than US Passenger lines (14 more fatalities in the last 14 years) (3) however due to the nature of industry self-policing
, the trend has been reversing as Air Charters are getting more professional. Private air travel can be very safe if a few precautions are followed. The way to utilize air charter safely is to ensure the reputation of the carrier
is researched online along with a detailed interview and reference check. It is encouraged for passengers to ask for records of any accidents and incidents, which, can be done via an online service.
It’s also incumbent on the customer to be extra cautious and not override weather and other safety concerns that the pilots bring up. Potomac Air Charter for example, always has two pilots even though regulations call for only one necessary in their aircraft type. Both their pilots are Airline Transport Pilot certified. They are also National Air Transportation Services (Aviation HR Compliance), ARGUS third party validation of Air Charter quality, and FAA Registered Operator certified. These are the types of quality and safety validations the customer must research prior to chartering.
Private flying gives you complete control of your schedule – you never miss your flight! If your travel calls for overseas travel, all your details are cleared before your arrival, so following a quick security check – you are whisked to your aircraft. Delayed at a meeting? Your plane won’t leave without you. Change of plans? Your route can be changed at almost a moment’s notice. You can take care of business, make a stop for shopping and another for a concert or a game – complete flexibility!
Some Reasons That Make Private Flying A Necessity
- Emergency flight to a location that is not accessible by a commercial airline or it takes to many legs to get there
- A business trip with clients and staff. Sometimes it becomes cheaper moving staff to a new location during an event
- Employee shuttle with privacy
- Special occasions (Golfing, hunting or fishing parties, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries etc.).
Written by a YouCanJet guest author, Vic Datta. [Click to view the original article]
- “Experts Shed Light on Gray Areas of FAA and DOT Compliance.” October 2013, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) online newsletter (no author mentioned)
- Editorial Comment: With respect to the “VIP Treatment” aspects of private flying, certain facts must be kept in perspective. Yes, you can pretty much have anything your heart desires in the air that is not illegal nor cause any degree of safety issue, it’s also true that you will be expected to pay for this luxury (food, alcohol, etc.) And these items can become expensive so the guidance is you should have these costs clarified as part of an itemized quote when you are first inquiring about the travel, not after. It’s a better negotiating position. Most air charters are standard business or personal family flights, with vanilla services asked for and provided – internet, coffee, light meals, etc. and some come with these basics included in the costs per hour of flight.
- Levin, Alan. “Private Jets Have More Fatal Accidents Than Commercial Planes.” BloombergBusinessWeek, May 15, 2015