In 2021, 674 million passengers flew on airlines in the United States, representing an 82.5% increase from the previous year when COVID-19 limited travel and movement. The majority of these passengers flew on domestic flights (612 million), with a small number of passengers traveling internationally (62 million). The airline industry in the United States is continuing to recover following the pandemic in 2019, a record 927 million people traveled on airlines compared to 369 million in 2020.
While most Americans opt to travel commercially, there are a host of benefits to choosing a plane charter, including concerns around mass travel as the country comes back from COVID-19 and its effects. If you are interested in learning more about using a private plane charter for travel, this blog post is for you. Here, we will highlight everything you need to know before booking and enjoying a private plane charter for your next flight.
This includes the benefits of chartering a private plane, the differences between a private jet and commercial travel, how charting a plane works, etiquette for flying privately, and much more. Let’s get started with our guide to private plane hire.
What Is a Private Plane Charter?
The pandemic has changed society in many ways, including increasing the interest in and demand for private jets. In December 2021, the number of global private jet flights was considerably higher (21% higher) than in December 2019, just before the onset of the pandemic.
Specifically in the United States, the percentage of private flights that took place over Christmas week in 2021 was 45% higher than at the same time in 2019. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the United States is the global leader in private jet travel, making up more than 70% of the worldwide market.
A private plane charter is a personalized travel experience. Charters are booked by private parties, meaning that the entire aircraft itself is rented and that its individual seats are not for sale to other parties. Below we will take a look at how a private plane charter differs from flying on a commercial flight.
Private Plane Charter vs. Commerical Travel
As highlighted above, a private plane charter involved hiring a private plane to travel to a specific destination. On the other hand, a commercial flight is operated by a commercial airline and runs on a regular schedule with individuals or groups able to buy seats for a particular flight on its schedule. The vast majority of people who travel by aircraft do so on a commercial aircraft, due largely to the difference in cost between it and chartering a private plane.
Below, we will highlight the benefits of chartering a private plane. Here, however, it is worth briefly mentioning the specific advantages that those who charter a private plane have over those who choose to fly commercially. These include:
- Greater flexibility in terms of travel
- Fewer delays and weather impact
- Choice of specific aircraft
- Use of dedicated terminals
- Greater level of comfort
- Access to closer airports and more remote destinations
- Tailored inflight experience
It’s also worth highlighting the fact that private flying is not as expensive as you might think. When you factor everything in, including baggage, onward transport needs, flexibility, and time saved, chartering a private plane makes a lot of sense for travelers.
What Are the Benefits of Chartering a Private Plane?
Let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of chartering a private plane. These include personalized service, a hassle-free experience, arriving feeling refreshed, and the ability to fly to specific destinations easily.
On a commercial flight, you are likely to have a couple of hundred other passengers traveling on the same plane. You have to put up with the queues, the noise, the complaints of other passengers, the limited on-board space for luggage, and more. Safe to say, it’s difficult to feel like a VIP on a commercial flight.
However, as soon as you step on board a private flight, you will enjoy an incredible level of service than is simply not possible on a commercial flight (even in business class). The VIP treatment begins even before you step on board, with a host of benefits prior to flying that makes the entire process more streamlined and enjoyable.
A majority of people (55%) say that air travel is more stressful than going to work. Dealing with limited legroom, experiencing delays, lengthy layovers, and waiting for baggage rank among some of the biggest stresses that people experience when flying. However, it is important to note that these stresses are related to commercial travel, not private flights.
Flying on a chartered flight allows for a smooth and hassle-free experience. There is no need to worry about lost luggage, long lines, or crowded terminals. What’s more, you have the ability to tailor your flight exactly to meet your needs and schedule.
The bottom line is that chartering a private plane puts you in control, rather than having to schedule your flight based on the availability of a commercial flight.
Arrive Feeling Refreshed
Commercial and chartered travel differ greatly in terms of the level of relaxation. The stress associated with commercial travel often leaves passengers feeling jet-lagged and tired. On a private flight, the freedom and space that those on board have, coupled with the relaxed atmosphere that exists, helps reduce feelings of fatigue and irritability.
This is the case whether you are flying for business or pleasure. When traveling for business, you will be able to focus on your work (for example, that important business meeting you have coming up), rather than trying to figure out if you are going to have enough time to reach the office due to delays or crowds.
When traveling for pleasure, you can expect your holiday to start early and get into the right mood even before the wheels are up. This is especially true if you are flying with a group, whether friends or family members, given that coordinating a larger group for a commercial flight can be difficult.
Fly to Specific Destinations
Undoubtedly, another key benefit of chartering a private plane is the ability to fly to specific destinations, including those that are not serviced by commercial airlines. Remote destinations and smaller cities are easily within reach when you charter a private plane.
If you are heading somewhere a little off the beaten path, then you can trust a charter plane to take you there without complications.
How Does Catering a Private Plane Work?
When booking a charter flight, there are a number of different companies that you can consider. For example, NetJets, Flexjet, Sentient Jet, Tradewind, Verijet, Wheels Up, and Vistajet, are all popular options.
In terms of cost, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. For example, the duration of the flight and the type of place will work to determine how much you need to pay.
As a general guide, many aircraft cost between $5,000 and $10,000 per hour. Frequent flyers on private planes are often able to utilize subscription or loyalty plans. In terms of the above cost estimate, note that this generally includes costs such as handling fees, crew, fuel, and basic catering.
There are different types of membership that a person can use to charter a private plane. These include fractional memberships, lease memberships, jet card memberships, and charter memberships.
How to Choose a Private Plane?
When chartering a private plane, it’s important to consider the exact type of aircraft you wish to travel on. As noted above, this will play a role in determining the total cost. There is a wide range of aircraft to choose from and so you should opt for the one that best fits your traveling needs and budget.
The most cost-effective type of private jets are classified as very light jets. They are affordable to operate and maintain. If you are traveling solo or with a small number of people over a shorter distance, this option may be perfect for you.
For trips ranging from 1,400 to 2,500 nautical miles, small light jets are a good option. They can typically seat up to eight people comfortably and are very popular among business travelers. Super lights jets are especially recommended for those traveling to airports that have short runways or are keen to avoid the need to use major airports.
Mid-size cabin jets are suitable for travelers who require longer flight capacity (up to around five hours, non-stop). For an even longer flight capacity, super mid-sized cabin jets are recommended as they are able to travel for up to seven hours. They also have larger cabin space.
At the top end of the list are the heavy jets and ultra-long-range heavy jets. The former is able to travel for up to around nine hours and is perfect for groups of 10-plus. The latter has the longest flying range and is capable of carrying up to 17 passengers in luxury and comfort.
Etiquette Guide for Flying on a Private Plane
Whether you are new to flying on a private jet or have done it several times before, it is always important to understand the correct etiquette for traveling. Let’s take a look at some tips to remember.
Arrive On Time
There is no doubt that traveling by charter plane is more streamlined compared to commercial air travel. For a commercial flight, passengers need to arrive one to two hours early to leave time for check-in, baggage check, and security. Thankfully, that’s not the case with a chartered flight.
Generally, passengers should aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before their flight is due to take off. It is a courtesy to the staff and makes it easier for them to ensure that everything is ready for an on-time departure.
Try Not to Overpack
One of the biggest hassles of flying commercially is the need to adhere to strict baggage weight limits. You may think that these simply don’t apply when chartering a private plane, however, that isn’t the case. On smaller planes, there are strict safety-related weight restrictions to keep in mind (this will depend on the exact type of aircraft).
Therefore, we recommend that you pack smartly and avoid bringing items in your baggage that are not necessary. You should make yourself aware of the baggage restrictions before packing.
Make Specific Requests in Advance
If you do have any specific requests for your flight, such as requests for beverages or if you have dietary restrictions, it’s important to make these requests in advance (at least one day in advance ideally). Waiting to make requests until after boarding increases the likelihood that your request cannot be fulfilled.
Be Sure to Bring Your ID
Even those you won’t need to go through a TSA checkpoint, it is still necessary to provide identification. Note that if you are traveling internationally, you will also need to bring your passport with you.
Using a Private Plane Charter for Travel
The above information highlights what you need to know about using a private plane charter for travel, whether nationally or internationally. While the cost is higher than commercial travel, you may be surprised by some of the rates you are able to find when searching for a private charter. It’s also important to keep in mind the fact that chartering a plane results in a far less stressful and convenient traveling experience.
If you need help with charters or an FBO, contact us today for help. Here at Republic Jet Center, we offer a comprehensive set of FBO services to ensure that your next charter flight is a memorable experience.