No, not hot dates as in somebody you just met on Tinder. As much as a private plane may impress a hot date, we’re talking about days of the year when private jet travel is in high demand. More demand means less availability and (you’ve guessed it) higher prices. We’re talking about peak days, when jet card memberships incur a surcharge and it’s wise to book your air charter well in advance.
So, sorry to those who wanted to know how to pimp a plane for a Tinder date. That's not what this article is about. Instead, this article guides you through typical peak days and how to avoid paying more on a hot date.
Hot Dates for Private Jet Travel: Who, When & How To Avoid
What Are Peak Days?
Travel is travel. It takes people where they need to be, when they want to travel. Private air charter is just like commercial aviation in this regard. Many people need to be somewhere two days before Christmas. There’s not as much demand on a wet Wednesday in February. Everyone wants to get home for Thanksgiving (or at least make some nod to the family); so delays are inevitable on commercial flights as demand outstrips capacity. It’s the same with private jet travel. More people want to fly and there’s a surge in demand.
What Are the Typical Hot Dates for Private Jet Travel?
[insert sentence here if you’re still hoping for an article about what to do on a private jet tinder date]. Hot dates for private jet travel can be:
- Days immediately before Christmas
- Days in and around New Year
- Easter weekend
- Thanksgiving, plus one or two before and maybe the weekend afterwards
- Labor Day weekend
- Fourth of July
- Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Augusta Masters and Kentucky Derby
- Other dates dependent on an operator’s location
Everybody has a different idea of what constitutes a hot date. That includes air charter operators. Their type? Any day when they are busy.
Air charter and jet card operators designate peak days as those when there is the highest demand for their aircraft. Those with very large fleets can handle increased demand, so they may only have ten peak days per year. However, some jet cards list over 100 peak days, including every single Saturday.
For jet card holders, the number of peak days per year also depends on your level of membership. For example, Tier 3 Delta Private Jets member have 30 each year, whereas Tier 1 members only suffer from ten.
There is no standard list to work from. Air operators based out of Georgia are in high demand for the Masters - naturally they add a surcharge for this event. However, operators in Colorado are more likely to charge more at the height of ski season.
Ultimately, all those traveling regularly or occasionally by private jet should always be aware of heightened demand around major public holidays. Christmas, New Year and Easter are the times when almost every operator flips into peak day mode.
What Changes On a Peak Day?
This really depends on who you are flying with. There is a very good chance that you will have to pay more for the same private jet travel. The surcharge could go as high as 40%, even if you have a guaranteed hourly rate through your jet card. But you can use different strategies to avoid peak day extras (see below).
Peak days are an opportunity for operators to make money. There’s is nothing wrong in this. Like any business, air charter operators must make profit during the good times, so they can comfortably exist through times of low demand.
Demand for Aircraft
The hottest dates are in highest demand. Excuse returning to the same pun but hopefully it will help you remember the importance of peak day private jet travel. Put simply, more people want private jet flights, which means less aircraft are available. So you should:
- Try to book further in advance
- Be more flexible about your flight plans
- Consider alternative dates for better deals
Demands Placed on Airports
Increased private jet travel also place higher demand on certain airports. As you would imagine, the closest airport to the Super Bowl is going to be busy in and around the football season finale. Operators want to book their slots as early as possible, so they can guarantee space and time to land. Maybe they can squeeze their jet in by calling a few favors - but that requires time and stress which probably means charging more. Again, booking further in advance and being more flexible helps you avoid peak day changes.
What Are Peak Day Surcharges for Private Jet Cards?
This is an almost impossible question to answer, even if the data is objective. There are over 250 private jet card programs in the US alone and each has its own surcharge policy. It’s further complicated by the same jet card implementing different surcharge percentages dependent on the plane. For example, Flexjet charge 10% more for peak day use on a Phenom 300; for a Challenger 300 that surcharge rises to 40%. Why? Probably because the aircraft’s fractional owners are stretching their own profit through peak day private jet travel.
The majority of private jet card membership programs, with guaranteed hourly rates, charge between 5% and 40% extra for peak day travel. Those with entry level memberships pay more, whereas those with the highest level of membership and pre-investment may not have to pay any surcharges.
And yes, you read that correct: programs with guaranteed hourly rates typically charge a surcharge from 5% to 40%. The rate is only guaranteed for non peak days and there’s a good chance you’ll be paying more on the days you actually want to travel.
Let’s put those costs into perspective. If your private jet card is $8000 per flying hour and it’s a four-hour return flight at 20% surcharge, that’s a $6400 surcharge.
What Other Policy Changes Affect Private Jet Card Memberships on Peak Days
But cost is just one thing that changes on a peak day. When private jet card operators are running to capacity they have lower flexibility and an increased stress on their services. To compensate this many will implement special policies. The cynical could say that these policies are another mechanism for extracting consumer cash - which may be true of some operations - but in order to run at full capacity, jet card operators must also streamline their service. So they implement special policies around:
- Increased Lead Time - meaning you must book further in advance, especially on a program with guaranteed availability.
- Cancellation - the operator needs planes, so there’s often greater flexibility over cancellations without penalty.
- Flights Changes - operators may adjust flight times by up to three hours in order to meet demands placed on their fleet.
- Blackout Dates - Jet cards with guaranteed availability implement blackout dates. Unsurprisingly, these are the peak days, when most people want to travel.
- No Availability - Jet card memberships may promise no blackout dates - but if aircraft aren’t available then it’s essentially the same thing.
Questions about surcharges and policy changes must be considered before you purchase a private jet card. There are many other considerations and surcharges - this article has all you need to know about private jet cards and their alternatives.
How to Avoid Peak Day Travel Challenges
Don’t fly on a peak day. But that’s not very useful advice is it. It’s like saying the best way to avoid the challenges created by hot dates is not to go on any hot dates. Peak days are peak days because they are when more people want to travel; hot dates are hot dates as more people want to date them.
Peak day surcharges and blackout dates are a challenge for almost anyone with a jet card membership program. Jet cards advertise themselves as flexible, fair and full of possibility. Peak days are just one area they fall down. If your jet card has a guaranteed hourly rate, why are you paying surcharges? If your jet card provides a set number of hours on a set aircraft, why is that aircraft not available?
On-demand charter is completely different. Rather than a pre-paid membership program you book flights just as you would any other form of transport. It’s a pay as you travel model, the same as flying on a commercial airline, the same as traveling in an Uber, the same as just about everything else in the travel industry. To avoid unwarranted fees and membership surcharges you can just book flights as you use them.
Is next Sunday a peak travel day? You don’t know because it depends on the operator. When booking private jet travel look for a single transparent price. There shouldn’t be a small-print or a set of additional fees. While you can’t control certain operators charging more on a peak day, you can make sure you don’t get stung after selecting an aircraft and flight.
Booking in Advance
The longer you book in advance the more aircraft are available. That’s the basic mathematics behind flying on a hot date. For example, contact Airvel for a Teterboro (TEB) to Van Nuys (VNY) flight leaving today and Airvel will find you a choice of aircraft at different prices. Contact Airvel six months in advance for the same flight and Airvel can find you a far greater choice of aircraft.
Compare Prices and Aircraft
Some operators add a surcharge for Sunday travel while others don’t make you pay more even on Christmas day. You could contact every single air charter operator there is, as if you were a private jet broker of old. Or you could search flights in an instant at Airvel.com and compare the prices.
Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean moving away from flying anywhere, anytime. Often there’s flexibility that you don’t know of. That could be an alternative airport that is actually closer to your destination. Or perhaps a flight route that gets you there while saving you 40 - 50% on the typical flight cost. Airvel’s Customer Experience team are experts in finding that flexibility and will provide you with alternatives to consider.
Airvel: No Peak Days, No Surcharges, No Nasty Surprises
Airvel is the world’s leading marketplace for on-demand air charter. Using proprietary technology, the Airvel marketplace provides instant and transparent pricing for an unrestricted choice of aircraft and routes. Just search, compare, pay and fly. Try Airvel today or ask the Customer Service team to do all the searching for you.