How to Fly Private Jet on a Budget
Imagine not having security lines or TSA pat downs, comfy seats and leg room for stretching, your dog right next to you and on a lose. These are the things only rich can enjoy during the flight. Or is it? It definitely used to be, but things are changing and now you can enjoy the same perks for under $200 if you know how to shop smart.
Quite a few sites and private jet companies are opening up their unused inventory and non-booked flights for general public to snatch as a last-minute deal. Private plane travel is becoming more affordable due to changes to cost structure many companies are undergoing.
JetSuite.com flies to over 2,000 airports and now aggregates private plane flights with unsold seats for “next-day” deals. The entire plane with 6 seats can be rented for $536 each way, that comes to just $90 per person. Sure, you have to be flexible, but the price is better than it would be on the commercial flight. Some pricing examples: flight Oxford, Conn., to Philadelphia for $90 per person, Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas for 4 people for $124 each, Orange County to Chicago for 4 people for $135 per person. All you have to do is book the entire plane, so get ready to travel with a group.
JetSuite is not the only company to offer such rates. You can receive similar deals by calling local private jet companies a few days in advance of your travels, even if they don’t advertise.
Not everybody can be so flexible with their travel plans, of course. There are non-last minute options, but significantly more expensive. Surf Air is a company on the West Coast that offers unlimited monthly flights for $1,750 per month + $1000 one-time fee. The flights are in California and Nevada. The company has 90 flights every day and keeps adding more destinations.
East Coast dwellers can use Beacon, another monthly membership company that flies 18-20 flights per day New York to Boston and Hamptons and Nantucket in summer. The monthly cost here is $2,000 + $1,000 initial fee.
It might look expensive, but if you are a frequent visitor to those places and travel 4 or more times per month, each flight amounts to just $200. This is less than a coach class ticket.
FLITE Air Taxi offers jet flights on Northeast coast, New York to Martha’s Vineyard or Boston to Saratoga, N.Y for a reasonable price, about $541 per person if all 6 seats are booked.
The reason why such low rates for private jet companies are available is because otherwise the planes would stand idle and empty, so better less money than nothing. About 40% of private plane flights have vacant seats. Sometimes these flights are going to other cities to pick up people and have seats to be filled on the way there.
Surf Air and FLITE Air Taxi use single propeller turbo planes that are cheaper to use and maintain. Big name companies have planes that require a lot more fuel and become expensive to operate, so they can’t offer deals like that.
There are many other considerations for discounted deals. Often times the ticket might be for one way only. Sometimes you will be looking at other costs, added to your cheap ticket, like taxes and airport fees. Always read the contract and make sure you know what is included.
One other major consideration is that to get discounted price you will have to buy the entire plane, all the seats in it, so you have to have a group of willing travel companions. You will also not going to get a brand new limo jet for the bottom dollar price. One final consideration is safety. Small private jets tend to get into more accidents and crashes than big commercial jet liners. Most crashes are caused by pilot errors, so call the company and inquire about the experience and flight hours of their pilots.
Yes, there are the downsides to budget private jet traveling, but airports and commercial flights are so uncomfortable that more and more people are turning towards the private industry.
Here are 4 ways to save and enjoy that private jet trip:
1. Be flexible
Be open to when to fly and where to fly and you will score big. Call the company and inquire about rates for weekends and for the middle of the week flights. See if you can fly to a nearby airport. Avoid Fridays and Sundays, they are the most expensive days. Try to catch last-minute deals and be ready to travel within 72 hour notice once you get your tickets.
2. Know where the deals are
The Northeast, West Coast, and Northeast to Florida usually have the most discounted deals to choose from, according to industry experts.
Shop around before making the final decision. Check out FlyVictor.com and compare the private ticket costs from different companies. JetSuite is the best when it comes to last-minute deals. You might want to hire a broker to do the research for you. Brokers work on commission, so ask what their rates are and how they get paid before working with one. They know where the best deals are and might find you great options, if you can afford them.
4. Travel with a group
Small group is the best way to score private plane deals. 6 people are often required for a discounted price. If your group is larger than 6, you will have to get a bigger plane and will run up the cost. Party of two is not very likely to get a good deal as most companies require buying out the entire plane.