For travelers who have to get to or from London, or whose travel plans would entail a connection using British Airways through London are probably thinking about Plan B options about now. Current strike dates by the pilots are set for Sept. 9, 10, and 27.
The chaos started earlier this week when BA mistakenly emailed some passengers telling them their flights had been canceled. The British flag carrier doesn’t have a particularly ideal record in dealing with disruptions, either via industrial actions, IT meltdowns or extreme weather.
In other words, if you are traveling to or from London, or via London, and you are planning to fly BA, it’s time to think about options. A natural options is just rebooking on other airlines, although as low fares get sold, you may find that only the highest fares are left to buy
What’s more, if you are flying to, from or via Heathrow Airport, BA’s flights are largely concentrated in Terminal 5 in which it is nearly the exclusive tenant. That means while on strike days, if BA cancels most or all its flights, T5, as it’s known, may be nearly empty, while the other terminals will be stuffed to the brim with fliers taking other airlines. It would likely mean longer waits for security and immigration, the former which impacts all transit passengers.
So, private jets are a good option if you need to travel on those dates. The Cannes Yacht Show runs Sept. 10-15 and the Monaco Yacht Show this year runs Sept. 25-28, so both events will be impacted by the BA strike.
You can charter a private jet as a good way to avoid being impacted by the BA strike, but with on-demand charter, you may find various cancelation policies meaning once you book, you are committed, or at least you lose some flexibility.
On the flip side, a number of jet cards that provide fixed rates and guaranteed availability are refundable, including Air Partner, JetLogic, and Starflight Aviation, so you can purchase the jet card now so you have a Plan B in place.
Typically, jet cards in Europe have a lead time to make a booking of 24 to 72 hours, so even after you buy your jet card, you don’t have book your flights if your jet card offers guaranteed availability.
If you buy a refundable program, if you don’t use your jet card, and don’t plan to make any private flights, you can then get a refund. Some cards will refund your unused balance, so if you need to use the card, you can then get unused funds back after your trip. Make sure to check the conditions of refundability.
Of course, the smart move would be to keep the jet card to use in future emergencies.
Another option is PrivateFly’s City Pairs fixed pricing by route, which was launched for the summer but is in place until the end of September.
The service offers one-way rates ranging from £4,140 to £32,660 on a six-seat Nextant 400XTi or 13-seat Embraer Legacy 600. Routes from London are to and from Paris, Geneva, Milan, Nice, Ibiza, Palma, Marrakech, Faro, and Mykonos.
As an example, London to or from Nice on the 400XTi is £6,440 or £17,480 on the Legacy 600. Currently, Google flights show no availability on the route on Sept. 27 during the Monaco Boat Show, or for that matter on Sept. 26 or 28.
If you are going to or from the U.S. during or immediately before or after the strike dates, you’re really in luck. While NetJets and VistaJet have fixed-rate, guaranteed availability private jet memberships for transatlantic flights, they require a minimum purchase of 25 and 50 hours respectively.
Earlier this summer, Air Partner and the JetSet Group, both launched 10-hour jet cards that give you a fixed hourly rate, guaranteed availability with 72 hours notice, oh, and by the way, both are refundable.
British Airways currently is showing one-way first class fares from London to New York at $11,528 westbound and $7,104 eastbound, so $18,632 roundtrip.
Air Partner charges $15,650 per hour with a seven-hour segment minimum, and there is a 15% roundtrip discount based on an average of at least four flight hours per day.
That means if you tallied 20 flight hours, you could take a five-day trip (20 hours divided by 4 hours average per day = 5 days) and earn the 15% discount, bringing your transatlantic hourly rate down to $13,300 per hour.
Air Partner estimates about $190,000 based on a roundtrip and it guarantees and private jet with at least 12 seats, so if you are going with a group, maybe for business meetings, a wedding or celebration, at $15,833 per person, it actually maybe be one of those rare instances when flying privately costs less than commercial flights.
The JetSet Transatlantic Jet Card runs $14,500 per hour and offers a 10% discount for qualifying roundtrips.
If you buy a jet card from Air Partner, Air Charter Service, NetJets, Starflight Aviation or VistaJet, you will be able to use your deposit for domestic U.S. flights as well.
One interesting byproduct of these type of strikes is that while it doesn’t necessarily result in floods of new private aviation customers, those who give it a try generally end up sticking with it, particularly for strategic missions.
Compare all the jet card options by subscribing to Private Jet Card Comparisons.