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Private air travel is growing in popularity year on year. Why? It's cheaper and easier to charter a plane. So now almost anyone can fly privately.

Private Air Travel – The Myth

For many travelers, air charters come from the realm of fantasy. They’re considered exclusive and extravagant, something reserved for the elite. But that perception is changing, quickly. You no longer need a double platinum credit card to fly private. Nor do you need a jet card or any significant financial investment.

You only need to go back to the 1960s and 1970s to find a time when all air travel was considered an elite domain, unaffordable and unthinkable for most people. Just 50 years on it’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t stepped foot inside a plane. Private air travel is moving in the same direction.

  • Exclusive to inclusive.
  • Extravagance to everyday convenience.
  • Unaffordable to practical.
  • Elite to commonplace.

Saving Time – Why Air Charters Make Sense

Air charters have become more beneficial as the value of time has increased. Contemporary society has made us short on time. We need more of it. The scale is different but back in the 1960s there were many people who didn’t have time to spend a month at sea traveling across the world. Saving time was a worthwhile expenditure so they chose to fly. The same thing is happening today with private air travel.

If an air charter saves on an overnight layover then what is that worth to you? If a week of hopping between business locations can be shortened to two days then there is profit to be made. Put simply, private air travel is the fastest and most convenient way to travel between destinations, especially if those destinations are remote or not directly connected by commercial flights. With air charters you can:

  • Fly to and from 2500+ airports in the US.
  • Always fly direct and remove all layovers.
  • Arrive just 15 minutes before the flight.
  • Use an airport FBO to streamline departure and arrival.
  • Connect multiple destinations in a single day, with the same plane.
  • Enjoy a flexible schedule that you control.

The luxury of air charters is not privacy. The luxury of private jets is the time you save.

Saving Money – Why Private Air Travel Is Cheaper Than You Think

The financial argument for air charters usually revolves around the cost of the time you save. You get more business done in a shorter amount of time, and while it’s hard to pinpoint the exact figure such efficiency savings are what 21st-century business is all about. How about being able to get home a day earlier and spend an extra day with your family – it’s another cost that’s difficult to quantify yet highly valuable to all.

However, the key driver behind increasing private air charters has always been cost. Just like the cost of commercial air travel plummeted through the 1990s and 2000s, private air travel has become cheaper and cheaper. Quite apart from the auxiliary hard-to-quantify benefits, the cheaper the planes the more likely they are to be chartered. More affordable air charters are being driven by a number of factors:

  • Availability of aircraft – there are more jets to charter than ever before.
  • The increasing abundance of private air travel companies.
  • Empty leg flights.
  • The possibility of splitting the cost of an air charter with other passengers.
  • A smarter, more connected industry that has reduced waste.
  • Wider choice and means to book a charter.

Increased Consumer Choice

Like any industry, increased choice is driving down prices and providing better value to the consumer. It’s worth noting the resistance that was encountered along the way. An element of the private aviation industry still clings to the idea that chartering a plane is exclusive and deliberately expensive. Fortunately the sea change has been strong enough to sweep this idea away. Now it’s widely recognized that everyone can fly, even if that message is yet to spread much beyond the industry.

The actual cost of an air charter remains dependent on the number of seats being used. With an air charter the cost of the plane doesn’t change based on the number of passengers. Fill the aircraft and the per seat cost is rarely much different from flying in business class on a commercial flight. Having unrestricted access to aircraft types means you are more likely to fill each seat. For example, booking a 12-seat aircraft for six passengers doesn’t make sense, but a smaller plane will realize the cost benefits.

Connecting Consumers With Airlines and Operators

Airlines and operators want their aircraft in the air. Just think of a car rental company – the cost of buying a car stays the same regardless of how much it’s booked out. The traditional challenge has been connecting these airlines and operators with customers; customers who didn’t know of the operator, plus potential customers who didn’t know the benefits of private air charters. The Internet has made this far easier.

In addition, electronic contracts are just one way the booking process has been streamlined. Instant communication between passenger and operator means less time is wasted when making changes. Operators have a greater reach, consumers have a greater choice, it all takes less time, and it’s all driving down the cost of your air charter.

Private Air Travel Options

But what benefit is all that time saved, if it takes many hours (even days) to book an air charter? Part of the industry’s elite image has been its inaccessibility. Booking air charters required significant knowledge and contacts, or a trusted person to do everything on your behalf (for a percentage of course). And it always took time, going back and forth with different operators and airlines, whether you did it yourself or through a broker.

Jet Brokers

The original model revolved around jet brokers, the all-knowing industry contact who found you a plane and a pilot. As with any broker system there were limitations: Impartiality; fees; inflated prices; the lack of a trusted jet broker qualification or quality seal. Many that were new to the air charter industry complained about struggling to find a broker who they could trust – a similar complaint to those leasing out their house through an agent for the first time.

Jet Cards

Brokers became somewhat redundant in the air charter industry due to the evolution of jet cards. Rather than dealing with a broker you could buy a pre-paid private jet card which provided a set number of hours on a specific style of jet. Whenever you wanted to fly you called up and booked a slot. This remains a popular private air travel option. However, it’s important to note limitations consistent across jet cards:

  • Pre-paying requires a significant amount of upfront cash (usually $50k +).
  • Blackout dates and times restrict travel or make it more expensive.
  • A minimum number of billed hours per flight make short journeys poor value.
  • Buying hours on a specific type of plane is fine if you are always flying a similar distance with a similar number of passengers.
  • Hours can expire (usually after 12 months) so money is often wasted.
  • Various additional fees are paid on top of the jet card (e.g. overnight fees, membership fees, de-icing fees).

Booking Air Charters Direct

Surely this is the best approach if you want to save money...but how much time is it going to take? And which infrequent private air traveler understands who to contact and how to book? If you’re completely new to air charter then check out Part 135, the FAA directive that governs this part of the industry. Even with that knowledge this is not an industry that’s easy to engage with.

The solution is an online booking engine, something like Skyscanner or Expedia, where you can search all the available airlines and aircraft, then book the best deal for you. A system where you can compare options side by side and make an informed decision based on what you actually need. A system that is free to use and handles all the contracts and itineraries electronically, in one place. And unlike Skyscanner or Expedia, a system that makes it easy to make changes and realize the flexibility of air charters.

Such a system exists and it’s called Airvel.

  • Instantly search 4000+ aircraft for charter, from hundreds of operators and airlines.
  • Fly from 2500+ US airports as well as international.
  • Choose from an unrestricted choice of aircraft, dependent on your needs for each individual flight.
  • Pay online and keep all documentation electronic, in one easy to access portal.
  • Share the flight and split the cost with other passengers.
  • Make all your changes online.
  • Have direct human contact with a concierge, whenever it’s required, 24-7-365.
  • No membership fees and no pre-investment required – just pay for the flights you need.
  • Fly whenever, wherever.

It’s the future of private air travel and soon there will be a day when everyone can fly by air charter.


About Author

Stephen Bailey
Stephen Bailey

An award-winning travel writer who swapped the newspaper editorial desk for the life of a travel hacker. Writes about how to find the best deals, inspirational places to go, and irreverent articles that no purpose other than pleasure.


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