Private Jet Rental – Everything you need to know about operators, brokers, cost, safety, cancelations, extra charges, and more
Chartering a private jet, sometimes referred to as private jet rental, on-demand, or ad hoc charter, is not as simple as booking a flight on Expedia or reserving an Uber, despite what you may read.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about chartering a private jet.
Who sells private jet charters?
Charter flights are sold directly by operators, brokers, and platforms that connect consumers directly to operators. When an operator doesn’t have a charter aircraft to fit your needs when you need it, operators will broker flights on other operators, what’s referred to as off-fleet bookings.
What is an on-demand private jet charter?
On-demand private jet charter or ad hoc charter refers to chartering a private jet, turboprop, or piston aircraft on a flight-by-flight basis. With an on-demand charter, your trip is priced out each time based on market conditions at that time. Pricing for ad hoc private jet rentals can vary widely based on supply and demand.
Are jet cards charter?
Yes. Jet cards are a form of private jet charter. However, jet cards are not an on-demand charter. They typically entail paying a membership fee to join a program or depositing funds for future flights, in some cases both. Here are some frequently asked questions about jet cards.
Do charter operators have to be certified?
Yes. To conduct charter flights, the operator has to have an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) issued by a national governing body. In the U.S., the rules governing charter operators are referred to as Part 135, or specifically 14 CFR Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator Certification.
Who owns the charter aircraft?
The aircraft you charter are sometimes owned or leased by the operator you are flying with. However, a large portion of charter aircraft is managed for third-party owners. These owners are usually UHNW individuals and companies. When they aren’t using their aircraft, they allow their operator to rent their jet on the charter market. In some cases, owners give their operators blanket approval to charter their aircraft based on a calendar of when they won’t need the aircraft. In other instances, particularly for larger and newer jets, owners may need to approve each trip. It’s part of how the charter market is changing.
How safe are private jet charter flights?
U.S. charter operators had three fatal private jet accidents with 18 deaths from 2010 through 2019. Turboprops operating charter flights under Part 135 suffered 15 fatal accidents with 43 deaths, according to a report by Aviation International News. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports 100 annual bathtub drownings. You can find Private Jet Safety: Questions To Ask here.
What is an Illegal Charter?
Illegal charter, sometimes referred to as gray market charter or Part 134.5, are flights operated for compensation by an aircraft that is not on the certificate of an operator with an Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Illegal charter is often hidden via non-compliant dry leases. Compensation doesn’t need to be monetary. Aircraft not on an operator’s Part 135 certificate do not have to comply with the same maintenance, pilot safety, training, duty time, and medical requirements. From 2010 through 2019, Part 91 jet operations had 31 fatal accidents compared to 3 for Part 135. For turboprops, it was an 82-to-15 margin. In addition to liability issues, Part 135 flights have a significantly stronger safety record.
How do I know if I am being sold on an Illegal Charter?
You can submit a report via the National Air Transportation website here.
Do charter brokers have to be certified?
Not in the United States. However, they need to abide by the Federal Aviation Administration’s 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 295 rules set in 2019. The rule defines air charter brokers and allows them to provide single-entity charter air transportation of passengers as principals or bona fide agents. It also requires air charter brokers to automatically make certain disclosures to consumers in some cases and upon request in others. Further, it outlines practices by air charter brokers as prohibited or unfair practices.
Is there an Expedia or Uber of private jets broker or platform?
While several charter brokers and platforms like Jettly claim to private jet charters like Expedia, Uber, or Kayak or to airlines, for the most part, it’s simply not true.
Despite PR claims, these brokers and platforms source and book charter flights in a similar way to analog brokers. That includes them having to contact operators, verify aircraft availability and get hard quotes – final pricing. In some cases, your request goes directly to the operator, and the operator responds to you. However, this involves the operator receiving your request and some type of manual processing. In many cases, operators may not quote your flight, or it may take a day or two for a response.
Several providers do offer hard quotes with instant booking. This is more like Expedia or Uber, where your booking request is confirmed at a final price in one step without human interaction. They do this by quoting a price they believe they can then buy or operate your flight at a profit. That’s because, unlike airlines that schedule flights six months in advance, charter flights are only scheduled after you call to request one.
What is Dynamic Pricing?
On-demand or ad hoc private charter flights are priced dynamically, which simply means market-based rates. The cost of your flight in the same type of aircraft on the same route can vary widely based on season, day or week, and time of day, driven by market demand and supply.
Do charter prices vary regionally or by route?
Yes. You will find more attractive charter pricing between high-density airports, especially up and down the East Coast. Flights between busy airports are usually less expensive. For example, flying from Morristown Airport in New Jersey to Ontario Airport in Los Angeles is likely to be several thousand dollars more than flying between Teterboro and Van Nuys, nearby airports, both among the busiest for private jets in the country. That’s because using lesser-used airports means the operator will likely have to fly the aircraft empty to pick you up and then empty after dropping you off. It means a two-hour flight between secondary airports in the Midwest will generally be more expensive than a slightly longer flight between New York and South Florida.
What are empty-leg flights?
Empty legs are repositioning flights that bring a charter aircraft back to base after dropping passengers off or picking up the next group of customers. These empty flights are sold at a discount and can save money. However, they will be canceled if others customers change their plans or the operator can better serve them using a different aircraft. Read about the good and bad of chartering empty legs.
Do brokers have to disclose the operator at the time of contracting?
No. Charter brokers may sell a charter without disclosing a broker. However, under FAR Part 295, you are entitled to a full refund at the time they communicate who the operator is. After operator disclosure, the DOT notes, “[A]ir charter brokers must provide the charterer with the opportunity to cancel the contract for charter air transportation, including any services in connection with such contract, and receive a full refund of any monies paid for the charter air transportation and services.”
How much does it cost to charter a private jet?
The price to rent a private jet on-demand varies significantly based on where and when you are flying, how far in advance you book, in addition to the number of passengers. Assuming you are buying a one-way charter – not coming back the same or the next day, based on current jet card pricing, expect to pay:
$7,000 per hour for Turboprops $7,500 per hour for Very Light Jets $8,500 per hour for Light Jets $9,800 per hour for Midsize Jets $12,500 per hour for Super Midsize Jets $16,000 per hour for Large Cabin Jets $21,000 per hour for Ultra Long-Haul Jets
You will often see brokers promoting lower hourly prices. Those cheap private jet charter prices are based on the total flight hours of an aircraft operating from a base. So you are paying for both the time you are in the airplane, and the time it takes to fly back to base as well as to pick you up if you were starting from a different airport. In the end, you will likely be paying in the ballpark of the above rates.
If your charter quotes are higher than the above pricing, you probably should consider buying a jet card to lock in better pricing for when the on-demand charter market is more expensive.
Do brokers really have access to thousands of private jets?
Yes, but with qualifications. When you see brokers or platforms claiming access to 5,000, 10,000 or 20,00 private aircraft, it’s more in theory. After you request a flight, brokers have to then source the aircraft options that best fit your mission. Operators are inundated by quote requests, often from online platforms. They prioritize the brokers who are good customers. They also have “Do not quote” lists of brokers they don’t want to do business with for a variety of reasons. What it means is some brokers have access to charter aircraft while others don’t.
What happens if I need to cancel?
The cancelation policy is in the contract. It’s not unusual that one-way flights and flights during busy policy periods cannot be canceled or changed after contracting. In other words, you would lose 100% of what you paid. While brokers and operators sometimes will and do waive or reduce penalties, don’t count on it.
Jet cards, in many cases, have more lenient cancelation and change policies, which is one reason experienced flyers will pay a premium for jet cards. They may also use jet cards for trips where they expect changes between booking and departure.
What happens if the Operator cancels your flight?
If the operator can’t perform your flight, be it mechanical, weather, pilot duty issues, or so forth, you will get a refund for the unused portion of your charter. You will then need a requote. Your provider will go to the market to source a replacement. You then have to choose between buying the new quote or finding an alternative.
What happens if I am delayed or lose out on a night at my vacation spot? What about any extra costs I incur for non-weather-related delays or cancelations?
All the contracts I’ve seen specifically exclude and release operators and brokers from any consequential damages. Whether your provider covers anything above, a refund of your unused charter fare will be based on goodwill; in other words, are you a frequent customer?
Some jet cards provide no-cost service recovery, so you can avoid a requote. However, jet card contracts also release brokers and operators from any consequential damages. That said, since you already deposited $100,000 or more, it’s not unusual to get some relief, again as a gesture so you stick around.
What’s the best way to find a good charter broker?
By far, the best way to find a good broker for on-demand charter flights is through recommendations from friends, particularly friends who fly privately on a frequent basis. They will often have a do not use list.
If you are getting a broker from another source, Google the company and executives searching for any previous lawsuits. Don’t use a broker without knowing who the owner and top executives are. Write-ups in general media only mean they hired a connected PR firm. Some of the industry’s most notable busts generated lavish praise in top outlets before closing shop. I haven’t been immune. Frankly, it’s often hard to tell.
Ask how many full-time employees they have. How long have they been in business? If they are in your area, visit the office. Who is responsible for sourcing your flights? How do they plan for recovery aircraft? What are their quality control programs both for selecting the operators they work with, verifying crews and aircraft are compliant, and then tracking everything up to your departure? Who can you contact if you have questions after hours?
What do you need to know before getting charter quotes?
To get quotes that reflect your needs, write out the following to provide to the broker or operator: – Where are you starting from, and where do you want to end up? Private aviation lets you fly into airports not used by the airlines, so there may be more convenient airports that will save you time. By giving your departure and arrival addresses, your provider can identify the best options. – Who and what are you bringing? The number of people, amount of luggage, and pets impact applicable aircraft. Note both adults and children by age. – Do you need to fly nonstop? If you are trying to save money, light jets or turboprops with a fuel stop can be less expensive. – Are you flexible on travel dates and times? Timing is everything, particularly if you want the lowest charter price. What is the window you can leave, both time of day and departure dates? – When are your coming back? Based aircraft have to price in flying to pick you up and then back to base. If your trip is short – the same day, the next day return, and the same airplane and crew can stay with you, they cut the empty flights, and you save money. – Are you bringing pets? Not all charter aircraft allow pets. It’s important you specify the number and type of pets and also the size of carriers. Some large carriers won’t’ fit through the door of certain jets. If you have a bigger cage, have the measurements to provide. – What extras do you want? Beyond sodas and packaged snacks, catering is an additional purchase. It’s better if you order it when or after you make the booking. With current supply chain issues, waiting until the day before may mean missing out. Also, you need to request WiFi. It’s also important to understand if use is included in your charter price or billed additionally post-flight. You can also arrange ground transportation at the time of booking, a good idea if you are flying to small airports that may not have taxis or Ubers readily available. – What type of experience do you want? Small and midsize aircraft for the most part don’t have stand-up cabins. This applies to even some super-midsize jets used for transcontinental flights. If you want a stand-up cabin – six feet high – you need to specify. Also, flight attendants are generally an extra charge and are not used on light and midsize jets due to space considerations. You can find more about booking on-demand charter flights here.
On-Demand Charter, Jet Cards, or Fractional Ownership?
While fractional ownership starts at 50 hours per year and requires a five-year commitment, jet cards work for anyone flying over 10 hours per year, in some cases less. On-demand charter serves an equally broad market. Some private jet users who fly over 100 hours per year use on-demand charter exclusively.
You will find a large number of private flyers use multiple solutions. Even if you own your own aircraft, it will be down for maintenance and it may not fit all your missions. A big jet could be too large for short runways, a small jet may not have the seats or range for all your flights. In other words, private jet owners also charter and use jet cards for supplemental flights. View it like cars in the driveway – different autos for different missions.
What’s the sweet spot for On-Demand Charter?
If you are doing a one-off fight and don’t expect to be taking more private flights in the next six months, On-Demand Charter will likely be the best option. The same goes if you only want specific aircraft types – or specific configurations, for example, a couch in the back instead of club seats. If you need a six-feet high cabin on a super-midsize, outside of fractional ownership, there are limited jet card options. If you are flying outside the areas where jet cards offer fixed or capped one-way pricing – a big reason to buy a jet card – On-Demand may be a better option for those flights.
If you find a good broker or operator that accommodates your needs and makes things work when things go wrong, you may have already found your optimal solution. If you are always looking for the best price and fly heavily trafficked routes such as New York to South Florida and are flexible, you may find better pricing via On-Demand options. When preparing a Custom Analysis for subscribers who are using a broker for ad hoc bookings on a regular basis, I often find a card is supplemental, not a replacement.
Charter brokers are navigating new rules of engagement for sourcing your private charter flights. It impacts what you pay and how you fly
Brokers who sell on-demand private jet charter flights say it’s not just availability and price that’s an issue. Record demand has changed the ways jet owners and the operators who manage their aircraft and sell charter flights are working.
Private jet charter – sometimes referred to as private jet rental, jet hire or on-demand charter – generally refers to buying your private flights on a one-by-one basis
There are over 2,000 private jet charter operators and brokers in the U.S. alone to choose from
How do you know who’s behind that slick website?
Here’s everything you need to know before you charter a private jet
If you read a lot of stories about renting a private jet, you might believe it’s like booking an airline ticket. Online apps and websites promise you can charter a private jet with just a few clicks. And you can. But that would be like saying you can buy expensive jewelry online. Yes, you can, but what are you really buying?
In the world of diamonds, somebody who knows all about cut, color, carat weight, and clarity can likely spot what’s a good deal – and what to avoid. They also know who to avoid!
If you book hotels online, at least there are review sites where popular luxury properties have hundreds if not thousands of critiques by customers who have stayed there. Still, it can be tricky to find specific rooms that have the best view – and make sure you get the one you want. And then, then there is the old adage, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” One reason travel agents remain popular with luxury travelers is that they know which rooms have the best views and the most space. They also get upgrades, dining, and spa credits for their clients. Plus, if something goes wrong – more likely than ever these days – they can help get it fixed.
In this report, we look at what you need to know to make you a smarter buyer of private jet charter. You then will be able to decide the best route for you. If you are new to private flying, the best news is it’s a great experience. It will save you time. It’s much more convenient. You can use airports that are closer to you. Virtually every trip can be a nonstop flight. No more changing in Atlanta or Dallas. You can reduce exposure to COVI-19. Flying privately has fewer than 20 touch points compared to over 700 with the airlines.
So, what is a private jet charter?
Private jet charters – or rentals – mean you are contracting with a company that has been granted by a national aviation body authority to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets, and system in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public.
There are different types of charter, including those shared flights where can buy a seat. Jet cards are prepaid charter. However, for this article, we will be focused on chartering the full entire aircraft on a flight-by-flight basis, and what you need to know.
In the U.S., charter operators adhere to what is referred to as Part 135 regulations. You can work directly with the operator or through a broker. A charter broker will solicit quotes from operators they think best fit your request. Unlike lawyers, financial advisors, and even real estate agents, private jet charter brokers are not regulated. However, in the U.S. they do have to abide by various government rules that were updated in 2018 and went into effect last year.
“These new regulations address many concerns from the past caused by ‘bad actor’ brokers and will allow increased opportunities for legitimate air charter brokers to continue providing the good service they have provided for years,” says Mike Nichols, National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) vice president of operational excellence and professional development.
DOT rules governing air charter brokers
Here are the highlights of those rules for brokers. Air charter brokers must not:
Misrepresent themselves as direct air carriers.
Use their names and slogans in connection with the name of the direct air carrier in such a manner that may confuse consumers as to the status of the air charter broker.
Misrepresent the service, type of aircraft, or itinerary.
Misrepresent the qualifications of pilots or the safety record and certification of pilots, aircraft, and air carriers.
Make misrepresentations regarding insurance.
Misrepresent the cost of air transportation.
Misrepresent membership in or involvement with organizations that audit air charter brokers or direct air carriers.
Represent that they possess a contract with a direct air carrier until they have received a binding commitment from the direct air carrier.
Sell or contract for air transportation that they know cannot be legally performed by the entity that is to operate the air transportation.
Misrepresent the requirements that must be met by charterers to qualify for charter flights.
Also, be aware of illegal charters and schemes represented as charter flights which are, in fact, dry leases. Both can have serious safety and legal implications for you.
What do you need to know before you rent a private jet?
Here are some things you should know before you contact brokers or operators. By having this information, they will be better prepared to help you.
– Where are you starting from and where do you want to end up?
There are oover 5,000 airports in the U.S. compared to less than 500 used by the airlines. There’s a good chance there are closer airports than you are used to. Let your operator or broker know the address you are leaving from and where you are going. They can suggest alternative airports that can shave hours off your door-to-door travel time.
– Who and what are you bringing?
If you are looking for the most cost-efficient solution, the type of aircraft that fits your mission is going to depend not only on number of seats, but the number of adults, children under the age of two, size of your pets, amount of luggage, and total weight. The number of seats along with weight, weather and winds will impact the type of private jet best suited for your flight.
The range of a light jet varies from around 600 to 2,000 miles depending on the make and model, plus how many people and how much luggage you have. To get the quotes that best match your needs, details matter, for example, six adults, including three large adults over 300 pounds, six sets of golf clubs, a 150-pound Golden Retriever, etc. This will enable your provider to identify specific aircraft that best fit your needs. You can review cabin height and space, baggage space, range, and speed for over 100 private jets here.
– Do you need to fly nonstop?
Are you looking for the cheapest private charter solution? In some cases, a smaller jet with a fuel stop that has the capacity for your group might be less expensive than aircraft that can make it nonstop. In other times, you might say that defeats the purpose of flying privately. However, with COVID-19 driving more consumers to private aviation, the extra time may not be a big factor. That said, you may find being in a small jet four or five hours even with a stop confining and less than ideal. Some light jets don’t have fully enclosed toilets, and others have only an emergency potty or nothing at all.
– Are you flexible on travel dates and times?
While you get to set your departure date and time – it’s on your schedule, not some airline planner – your choices impact your cost. If you are flexible to leave over a span of certain days or times, let your provider know that up front. That will enable them to look for potentially money-savings alternatives. I’ve seen lead pricing between South Florida and New York vary by as much as $5,000 from one day to the next.
If you are really flexible, don’t mind a last-minute cancelation, and are happy to regroup and look for options on other days, or you have alternate transportation, empty leg flights can provide savings of around 50%. These repositioning flights are returning to base after dropping off customers or heading to their next mission. They are sold at big discounts, however, if the person on the other side of the equation changes his or her plans, yours will cancel, and it could be while you are at the airport waiting to board.
– When are your coming back?
Qualifying roundtrips in private aviation can cut costs by up to 40% off one-way pricing. What do you have to do to get that discount? The standard is two billable flight hours per day. That could be a same-day trip where the outbound and return legs are at least one hour each. It could also mean two four-hour flights leaving on day one and returning day four. Four hours plus four hours equals eight hours, divided by four days, equals an average of two billable hours per day. You’ll have to leave and return from the same airport.
It is based on the operator using the same aircraft and flight crew for both legs, so while with jet cards it’s a formalized part of your contract, with on-demand charter it’s more a rule of thumb. If your flight doesn’t qualify as a roundtrip per this definition, in private aviation terms you are booking a one-way, even if you are starting and returning to the same airport. Operators with aircraft based at your local airport often have the best pricing for qualifying roundtrips. However, make sure to read below on what happens when your operator cancels your flight. Keep in mind, for Part 135, pilots are limited to a duty time of 14 hours, which starts when they show up for work to prepare for your flight and includes any flights before yours that day.
– How likely are you to change your mind or need to reschedule?
Just like the airlines, when you are chartering a private aircraft, you are entering into a contract that covers what happens if you want to cancel or change. Typically brokers and operators come back with several quotes based on your request.
Since quotes are often based on a specific aircraft or tail number in industry lingo, the terms can vary. In other words, each quote may have different cancelation terms, including no refunds or changes. When booking ad hoc charters, it’s critical you review the terms of each quote fully.
– Are you bringing pets?
Some aircraft don’t allow pets. In other words, you need to decide if Fido might be traveling with you when you contact the provider. Don’t assume you can show up with your furry friends and they will be allowed to fly. Also, confirm what type of pets are accepted before you sign the contract. It could be the owner of that aircraft prohibits all pets or at least certain types of pets. More on who owns the airplane below.
– What extras do you want?
If you want catering beyond packaged snacks, coffee, waters, and sodas, be sure to specify. Your provider will give you a menu. You will find prices steep for what you get, however, if it adds to your enjoyment go for it!
Also, if you need WiFi, make that clear. Not all private jets have connectivity, and some that do, don’t turn it on for charter flights. Your contract holds you responsible for post-flight charges, so if you ask the pilot to turn on the WiFi and it wasn’t part of the agreement, you could find something akin to those post-check-out charges you get at hotels.
Flight attendants also need to be specified, although they are sometimes included when you charter a large cabin aircraft. On anything smaller than a super-midsize jet, you’ll probably be fine on your own, and in fact, the limited space means you won’t want an extra person.
Lastly, don’t forget about ground transportation. At smaller airports, taxis and ride-sharing may not be readily available. Your provider will normally ask you if you need ground transportation.
– What type of experience do you want?
With apologies to any pre-conceived image about what it’s like to fly privately, the cabin height on light jets is typically under five feet, with midsize aircraft six to eight inches more. The cabins are quite comfortable for sitting, but not so much for walking around. If you want to have that Kim Kardashian-type Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous experience, ask your provider to quote large-cabin aircraft. You can also specify the minimum cabin height.
What if you are flying overnight or to Europe and want to be able to sleep in a flatbed? You can request aircraft that have a separate sleeping compartment – generally for one to two passengers. You should also let your provider know how many passengers will require a flatbed. Not all seats on private jets convert as they do in first or business class on the airlines. In many cases, two club seats convert into a single bed. That means a large-cabin private jet with 14 seats may only sleep, seven passengers.
One-way charter pricing
Let’s talk about how much it costs to fly privately. One-way charter pricing as mentioned above doesn’t mean you aren’t coming back. In private aviation lingo, it simply means you don’t qualify for roundtrip pricing. Remember, that’s when the operator can handle your entire trip with one aircraft and the same flight crew. Here is a very rough range for one-way pricing by aircraft type and cabin size:
$1,000 to $2,500 per hour
$3,000 to $5,000 per hour
Very Light/Light Jet
$3,500 to $6,500 per hour
$5,000 to $8,000 per hour
Super Midsize Jet
$5,000 to $10,000 per hour
Large Cabin/Heavy Jet
$6,000 to $20,000 per hour
You’ll often see lower starting prices on charter broker and operator websites. It’s probably based on roundtrips or empty legs.
– Why do private jet rental prices vary so much?
There are quite a few reasons. One is the age of aircraft. The average private jet clocks an hour of flight time per day. In fact, they often sit idle for days. Compare that to airlines that fly their aircraft around 12 hours per day. That means that properly maintained private jets can literally fly forever. On the charter market, airplanes more than 25 years old are harder to rent, even if they are fine for their owners. Older jets tend to have lower pricing.
On the other end, new jet buyers are less likely to put them on a charter certificate. Owners of new jets are paying a premium. They tend to be high time fliers who want their aircraft available on short notice. That means if you specify very new jet types, there is less supply, hence higher pricing.
A lot of it also depends on where you are flying. The East Coast corridor from Boston to Miami is private jet heavy. There’s a good chance if you are flying from major airports with a lot of private jet activity like Teterboro, Palm Beach, Naples, or Ft. Lauderdale, the need to reposition the aircraft either before or after your flight is less likely.
In fact, you might be able to save money by going to the airport where the aircraft is going to be if it’s not too inconvenient. For example Opa-Locka Executive Airport versus Miami International. Ten miles in a car might save you $2,000.
Size matters with private jet airports
The flip side is if you are flying from Joplin, Missouri to Iowa City, a one hour flight, there’s a good chance your aircraft might need to fly an hour or more from somewhere to pick you up. It’s also likely it will have to fly somewhere else after it drops you off to pick up its next full revenue customers. Those extra hours of flying need to be factored into the quote for your 60-minute trip. It’s one reason jet cards are often the best solution if you fly in these types of markets.
Then you have routes like Teterboro and Westchester County to Van Nuys Airport, serving Los Angeles. You’re talking about three of the four busiest private jet airports. For the operator, you’re also generating about six hours of flight time and there’s a good chance they will pick up a flight going back the other way within a couple of days. It’s not unusual to see rates as low as $23,000 to $27,000 for a coast-to-coast nonstop flight between these airports.
Who owns the airplane?
Most of the U.S. charter fleet is not owned by the operators. The operator manages the airplanes for individual owners and companies that allow them to be rented out when they don’t need them. Hence, rules, pricing, and approval of trips must be granted by the owner, in some cases on a trip by trip basis. Expensive maintenance is based on landings and takeoffs – cycles – not necessarily flight hours. That means the owner of a large cabin jet might be happy to have their airplane booked for four and five-hour flights, but turn down a trip that has several short flights.
Floating fleets versus locally based private jets
Another factor is if the aircraft is part of a floating fleet or based at a particular airport. Floating fleets tend to be owned by the operator. That means the operator doesn’t have to bring them back to a home base. Instead, they hop around picking up and dropping off customers. Because of this, floating fleet one-way pricing is typically better than a local operator, particularly for longer flights.
Recently refurbished aircraft might cost more. Also, the number of seats can be a factor. Midsize jets can have between six and nine seats. Large-cabin jets range from 10 to 16 seats. Some large-cabin jets which have a separate sleeping compartment might price a bit higher.
Then comes the operator. Operators of higher-priced jets will argue that they are spending more money on pilot training, maintenance, and other upkeep that justifies their higher fees. While operators in the U.S. have to abide by the Part 135 regulations, many operators exceed them.
Sometimes it’s the owner. Owners can generally pull their aircraft even after you signed the contract. Good brokers stay away from these aircraft as in a way, it’s a sort of fool’s gold. You think you saved money until you didn’t. Then late in the game, you have to shop for a replacement, usually at a higher cost. Unless you are an industry insider, they may look like a great deal on a website.
By subscribing to Private Jet Card Comparisons you can compare on-demand charter quotes with jet card pricing specific to the flights you are planning with our Quick Compare Flight Pricing tool. Click here for more information.
Private Jet safety
It’s confusing, and there is no straight answer. Argus, Wyvern, and IS-BAO provide third-party safety ratings. You see their logos used like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval on many operator and broker websites. There are significant differences between the levels. While the highest levels include on-site audits, the lowest ones don’t.
In terms of the on-site audits – in some cases, they are only every two years. They are less an inspection of aircraft than the operations. Argus and Wyvern are both for-profit companies, and the audits are just one element of what they do. Below is how each entity describes its standards.
Operating certificate for a minimum of one year
At least one turbine aircraft on the certificate
In-depth Historical Safety Analysis
Pilot background check
Aircraft operational control validation
Argus Gold Plus
Operating certificate for a minimum of one year
At least one turbine aircraft on the certificate
In-depth Historical Safety Analysis
Pilot background check
Aircraft operational control validation
ARGUS On-site Audit with uncorrected findings
Pilot background check
Operating certificate for a minimum of one year
At least one turbine aircraft on the certificate
In-depth Historical Safety Analysis
Aircraft operational control validation
Emergency Response Plan
ARGUS On-site Audit with no or corrected findings
Functioning Safety Management System
This beginner program is granted to any operator who provides Wyvern with their records. Wyvern makes these records available to their clients to review and make sure the operator meets certain standards. These operators have not been audited by Wyvern.
This rating is harder to receive. Operators at this level must follow specific methods that reflect the latest and best safety practices. The Wyvern Wingman is only received by aircraft operators who have been audited against Wyvern’s audit standard.
The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and its member associations, is a recommended code of best practices designed to help flight departments worldwide achieve high levels of safety and professionalism. IS-BAO is an industry standard built for operators, by operators that provides standards based on the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).
IS-BAO Stage 1
Confirms that the Safety Management System (SMS) infrastructure is established and that safety management activities are appropriately targeted. All supporting standards have been established.
IS-BAO Stage 2
Ensures that safety management activities are appropriately targeted and that safety risks are being effectively managed.
IS-BAO Stage 3
Verifies that safety management activities are fully integrated into the operator’s business and that a positive safety culture is being sustained.
What’s my takeaway on the audit levels? In looking particularly at Argus and Wyvern, don’t infer that a Platinum rated operator is safer than Gold – or Wingman is safer the Registered for Wyvern. While the higher levels have additional criteria that must be met to qualify, it doesn’t mean the operator couldn’t attain that same level if they wanted to pay the associated fee. In other words, it’s not a grading system, like A, B, C, D, F, etc.
– What questions should I ask about safety?
The NBAA recommends asking the following questions:
What is the operator’s safety record?
Has the charter operator had any aircraft accidents or incidents? If so, what measures has the operator implemented to ensure increased safety?
How often is training provided to the crew and what is covered in the training?
Does the charter operator provide training above and beyond the minimum training requirements established by the FAA?
Where is the training conducted? Is the initial and recurrent training provided in a simulator or the aircraft?
What are the charter operator’s policy on crew flight time and duty limits? If a possible customer trip goes beyond the crew flight/duty times, how would the charter operator conduct the mission and maintain its policies?
Will there be a flight attendant onboard the flight? Is the flight attendant trained for the specific make/model of aircraft you are flying on?
Is the aircraft equipped with a defibrillator and are the crew trained in its use? Does the aircraft have a subscription to an in-flight medical assistance program in case of a medical emergency?
You can also call your regional FAA office to ask if there are any outstanding or pending actions against the operator you are considering.
– What questions should I ask about the charter operator?
Again, from NBAA:
What experience does the operator have? How long has the operator been in business: In aviation? As an air charter operator?
What type of aircraft is on the charter certificate?
How many aircraft and crew does the charter operator have? Has the FAA ever taken enforcement action against the operator or one of its flight crew members?
What experience does the crew have? How many flight hours total time? How many hours in the make/model of each aircraft?
For extended overwater and mountain airport flights, what experience does the crew have? Same for international operations.
– What happens if the operator cancels the flight?
With standard one-off charter contracts, be it a pilot gets sick or there is a last-minute mechanical, if the aircraft you chartered can’t make the flight, you’ll get a refund. That’s good news.
The bad news is if the replacement options cost more, and they usually do at the last minute, you the customer has to pay the difference if you want to travel. If you are a good, regular client – read spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – your broker might consider it a good business move to cover the difference, but that would be the exception.
– What other charges should I be aware of?
Taxes and Fees
For flights within the Continental U.S. or to destinations within 225 miles of the southern and northern borders, you pay the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, or FET. Due to the CARES Act, that tax is suspended for flights you book and pay for between now and Dec. 31, 2020, even if your flight is next year. Segment fees are $4.50 per person, also currently suspended. There are various fees for international flights if you are going outside your country of origin. That can include overflight fees. You will also pay for any airport and landing fees. There could also be hangar fees.
Crew Charges and Deicing
You might also have to pay for overnight crew stays if your trip includes them having to hotel somewhere. And don’t forget deicing. The cost of deicing can range fro $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the airport and the size of the jet. You might also get hit with double deicing charges. That would be if the aircraft needed to be deiced before the repositioning flight to pick you up, then again at your departure airport.
It’s rare and most brokers and operators tell me it hardly ever happens, yet I have subscribers who have told me they’ve been hit with double bills more than once. Some jet cards include deicing or offer deicing insurance for a fee. It’s one of the more than 65 variables you can compare when you subscribe. It’s also a reason if you are doing a lot of winter weather flying, a jet card could be a smart option.
Cleaning Fees and Damage
Your contract will likely hold you responsible for any damage incurred during your flight. That could include stains, ripped or scratched furnishings. Also, if you have pets, and there is special clean-up required. If you see any damage when you board, point it out to the pilots right away, and perhaps even take a picture. Also, my best advice is to treat the cabin the same way you would want guests in your home to behave.
Who should you contact to book your charter flights?
You have two choices – operators and brokers. Operators – the companies that fly the airplanes – at your local airport can be very efficient if you are making qualifying roundtrips. Keep in mind most operators are small.
While you’ll see brokers referencing access to 10,000 aircraft, according to Tuvoli, a B2B tech platform, there are only about 4,000 private jets on Part 135 certificates, in other words, that can be rented legally in exchange for compensation. The rest are helicopters, pistons, turboprops, and even airliners. Out of the 573 operators with at least one private jet on a Part 135 certificate, 408 operate five or fewer jets, and 156 operate only one jet. Brokers survey the entire market looking for operators that are the best fit for your flights. Operators, for the most part, will try to sell you onto their fleet first.
Like good travel advisors, good brokers are like gold. They also know why some prices you might see are lower and what’s a good deal versus the cheapest price.
– How do I find a good charter broker?
Argus and Wyvern publish lists of brokerages they’ve registered or certified, so in terms of looking for a good brokerage, both are solid resources. However, the quality of experience comes from the person you are interacting with. If you aren’t happy with your initial dealings, ask for another broker. Even better, ask friends who charter regularly for the phone number of their broker, and benefit from their good and bad experiences.
While most online booking is a request form, I highly recommend for first-timers, the best route is to speak to a human being, preferably one with multiple years of experience booking charter flights. Feel free to ask whomever you are speaking with, how many years of experience they have selling charter flights. If they are relatively new, there’s nothing wrong with politely telling them you would like to speak to a broker who has more experience.
Google is your friend
In looking at broker websites, look for the names of the CEO and other executives. If you don’t see any names of owners or executives, ask! Be cautious of companies that won’t share that information. Google names of companies and executives combined with phrases like “lawsuit” and “complaints.” There are often two sides to a story. Better to know and ask before you book.
If you are paying weeks or in some cases months in advance of your flight, ask who will be holding your money. How will your funds be protected?
The charter broker’s guide that comes along with your Private Jet Card Comparisons‘ subscription includes ratings from the Better Business Bureau, Trust Pilot, Glass Door, and Facebook, as well as whether or not they are part of the Argus and Wyvern programs. Keep in mind, most brokers have limited consumer feedback on these rating sites.
How about chartering a private jet online?
Here’s the first thing to know. In many cases, the app or computer interfaces you are using are merely digitalized request forms. Even the prices you see are estimates. It often takes a live body somewhere to verify the aircraft is still available. Virtually all online brokers, platforms, or whatever they call themselves require you to submit your contact information when you check pricing and availablity.
Expect a call from a salesperson before you get hard quotes.
It’s one reason I strongly recommend those of you who aren’t experts in chartering a private jet to use a human being as your broker. That doesn’t mean companies with slick apps don’t also have good brokers working there, by the way. More on this subject later.
– Can I use more than one broker or operator?
Yes, in fact, until you settle on a favorite or favorites, most consumers request quotes from three to four brokers to compare. That said, each request means you will have to deal with a salesperson following up. Many are great, but some can be a nuisance. Just remember three quotes from the same broker can have different sets up terms, so read the fine print. Some folks use a local operator for qualifying roundtrips, and then brokers or solutions like jet cards for other trips.
– Are there any other alternatives?
If you don’t want to go through the time it takes to shop and compare quotes for each trip, you need more flexible booking and cancelation terms, and you don’t want to find yourself having to get a last-minute re-quote, jet cards and memberships are a good option. The number of jet card providers has more than doubled since the Great Recession because they provide similar benefits to full or fractional ownership, with minimal commitment.
You can buy in for as little as $25,000, so the price of one of two flights. Some even offer pay-as-you-go options, although you pay a membership fee to join. Many jet cards offer fixed one-way rates with guaranteed availability. That means you know how much you will pay on a per flight hour basis when you sign up. To get that price, you simply have to book a minimum number of hours before departure, anywhere from 5 to 96 hours based on the provider. To secure on-demand pricing, you have to commit that day.
For fixed-rate jet cards, it’s the same with cancelations, including some requiring as few as 10 hours notice. And if the operator cancels, your provider will secure a replacement aircraft at their expense, and may even offer you compensation.
Best of all is the convenience. Instead of reviewing quotes for each trip, since you already signed a contract, you can make one call, in some cases book online, or even via email and text message. Do keep in mind, jet card pricing isn’t always lower than on-demand charter costs, so it’s a tradeoff.
Before you fly
Both Argus and Wyvern also provide reports primarily for brokers that ensure your aircraft and pilots are legal – in other words, meet government regulations. You should request from your provider either an Argus TRIPCheq or Wyvern PASS report before flying. If the crew changes before your departure, request an updated report.
Around 90 of the largest Part 135 operators covering over 6,000 aircraft are part of the Argus database, according to the company. With a couple of weeks’ notice, Argus can prepare a TripCheq for a company where it currently doesn’t have information.
Wyvern offers subscriptions for around $300 per month targeted for brokers. However, it can also provide a custom option for individual UHNW fliers or companies that want to do their own due diligence.
Should you subscribe to Private Jet Card Comparisons?
My answer, as you might expect, is yes. While our comparing functions are focused on jet cards and memberships, we also provide personal assistance via our VIP Jet Card Decider service. Regularly, we help folks figure out if they are better of going the on-demand charter route or even fractional ownership. We even help subscribers figure out if there are any sharing opportunities.
Our paid subscription is for 12 months and priced and $250 for the year. If you are looking at any type of private aviation solution, you are likely spending between $10,000 and up – sometimes over $1 million per year. I like to think a subscription to Private Jet Card Comparisons, including personal support is a pretty good value.
Unlike lead generation sites, we don’t sell your contact data nor do we accept commissions or finder’s fees from private aviation companies. We are the only private aviation research site that doesn’t sell your info to jet companies or get referral payments…We protect your privacy and give you comprehensive, unbiased, updated data so you can make the best decision for your needs! More information here.