What do I need to know before flying by Private Jet?
Private jets aren’t as safe as, say, BA or Virgin are they?
No – executive jet operators adhere to all the same strict safety and security regulations as major airlines. A good charter broker would be regularly appraised of the latest airline blacklists and check all operator, aircraft and crew maintenance documentation prior to each flight to ensure all is in good order. Executive aircraft are just as stringently tested as any airliner and typically operate less flying hours per day than a commercial airliner would. Crew are usually very experienced and have often progressed into executive aviation from airlines and therefore have many flying hours on their license.
But will I still have to check in with hordes of other passengers?
Nope – most airports have executive / general aviation terminals (called Fixed Base Operators or FBOs in the USA) where passengers travelling on private jets will check in and go through the usual security formalities such as baggage x-ray screening and passengers passing through metal detectors. In most circumstances, passengers can arrive 20 mins prior to the departure time and arrival formalities at the other end can take as little as five to 10 minutes. That’s a huge saving of time compared with normal commercial airline flights. Most major airports in Europe / USA and many other major cities will have a comparable facility.
It’s super expensive and reserved for the wealthy elite isn’t it?
Not necessarily and the value of leasing a private jet could surprise you. As an example, a day return for business from London to Nice for six passengers can cost as little as £6,000 to £7,000, which is almost comparable to six full business class fares. Add the priceless factor of flexibility to travel at times to suit you, from the airports closest to your origin and destination, and with greatly reduced airport check in times etc, the saving is one to think about. That’s why many people, from busy corporate executives to global rock stars, have worked out that a private jet is actually cost and time effective.
Why should I use an air charter broker?
A charter broker can add several real advantages. As a repeat client of the operator, brokers will already have purchasing power that will equate to a discount of anything between five to 20 per cent. A good broker will also give impartial advice as to the most suitable aircraft in terms of size, comfort, facilities, position and range. They also act as a single point of contact at all times from quoting the trip, preparation before a trip, flight following and during the trip and post flight accounting. They will also carefully vet the operator for operational and service standards and that kind of expertise is vital.
Time well spent
Many jets can provide comfort and services you’d expect at home. For example, some will have dining room facilities, a bedroom and even a games room, movie theatre or entertainment centre. Tell your broker who will be travelling and how they’d like to spend their time mid-flight.
How much baggage you want to take away with you will have a bearing on the plane. Items like skis and golf clubs won’t fit on some smaller jets, so you need to check that all your luggage can be accommodated. A good charter broker would be able to advise you how many suitcases can be carried.
Catching 40 winks?
You might need to sleep on your flight. Most aircraft that are capable of flying across the Atlantic have between nine and 14 seats, which convert to four to six beds – important for a long haul or red-eye flight. Depending on who you’re flying with, whether it’s your baby or your boss, a cabin divider or a closable door could be important for peace and privacy.
Some smaller jets won’t have a bathroom. If you’re going far and are concerned about getting caught short, best to request a jet with appropriate facilities.