Many of today’s airlines boast “luxury” services, but no amount of fancy magazines, upscale wines, or à la carte menus can measure up to the true opulence of private air travel. For the majority of us (i.e.: the average Joe), private jet travel has always been out of reach; reserved only for the ultra-rich and uber-privileged.
But pilot Justin Crabbe, is the Founder and CEO of Jettly, a Web and single app charter booking platform with over 9,500 aircraft and 19K customers, offers advice on how a flight on a private jet could be within reach.
Says Crabbe: “Modern innovators are revamping the traditionally-limiting industry with economy-sharing business models that significantly reduce costs, making private air travel more accessible to the general population. And while technology is helping travelers make more informed, budget-friendly decisions, booking a private jet can still be a daunting task. To make the most out of one’s budget, it is important to understand market variables and be aware of the elements that can impact the cost.”
Crabbe offers the following tips and tricks that will arm travelers with the right tools to successfully book a private flight.
Carefully choosing the airports…
Frequent travelers are all-too familiar with the inner workings of the large airports that house commercial airlines. But when it comes to private jet travel, regional or smaller airports can drastically reduce overall travel time, as well as provide cost savings on typical extras such as handling, ramp, landing and airport fees. And since smaller aircraft can land on shorter runways and landing strips, travelers will benefit from the peace and luxury provided by a less hectic and more flexible arrival/departure schedule.
To maximize their budget, travelers should consider their choice in aircraft. Single or double engine aircraft incur lower operating fees, helping to decrease general flight costs. On the whole, compact aircraft such as helicopters, air taxis, propeller planes, and very light jets are more cost effective for short-haul flights—especially since most of them will require a minimum 2-hour flight fee. Smaller jets can certainly accommodate longer flights, but travelers should be aware that extra fees will be added to cover the necessary refueling stopovers.
Online Booking Options
There are several online booking platforms where travelers can compare prices and check availability at a low cost, often by cutting out the middleman and directing the consumer straight to the operator. Spontaneous travelers can book through sites selling same-day-flights for small groups. Other websites allow consumers to bid for a flight and if the bid is accepted off they go. Some also operate through membership programs with monthly or yearly fees in multiple pricing brackets. Additionally, there are new business models with direct-to-consumer pricing for fixed single flight arrangements in private aviation.
Consider empty legs…
Travelers can secure a seat on a private jet, at a fraction of the cost, by booking an empty leg. Since private aircraft operators tend to operate empty flights after dropping off a group of passengers, they are always searching for ways to avoid a loss on fuel costs. Having a flexible schedule that allows travelers to book a flight on one-way legs at the very last minute can provide savings of up to 75%, making the price competitive with commercial airlines. Travelers who book private jets can also reap extra savings if they share their flight with additional passengers. When it comes to empty legs and tagalongs, spontaneity and flexibility are the key to unlocking major savings.
If empty legs aren’t a feasible option, travelers can still find cost-saving benefits by employing a more proactive approach; that is, booking a flight early. This ensures a wider choice of available aircraft, which is crucial when determining a budget, fitting specific travel requirements, and scoring the lowest price. Although it can be difficult to book a cheaper flight during peak travel periods, success can be achieved if travelers book their trip a minimum of six weeks in advance.
Further cost reduction can be obtained by opting for the airline’s “No Frills” service. From lobsters and steaks, to cocktails and champagne, private jet operators are capable of serving up the most extravagant meals. And while these luxury food items are considered standard on a private jet, they can dramatically hike up the cost of a flight. Pairing down the service by ordering a simple meal is an option that can save big bucks. Larger aircraft usually include a flight attendant, while smaller jets will offer different service selections, so travelers should take the time to browse each option carefully. Another element that can affect overall price is the age of the jet. Choosing an older aircraft will usually result in greater cost savings. And just because a private jet is a little dated, that doesn’t mean its quality and maintenance schedules are compromised. When it comes to private travel, quality always ranks at the top of the list.
Pilot Justin Crabbe is the Founder and CEO of Jettly, a Web and single app charter booking platform with over 9,500 aircraft and 19K customers. Jettly offers private air travel to travelers through on-demand features similar to Expedia/UBER/AirBNB.