Nov 292012
 

Private plane charters can be surprisingly affordable, as well as wonderfully enjoyable.

How long does it take you to fly between, eg, Chicago and New York?  Not just the flight itself, but how long does it really take – from when you leave your home office or hotel at one end, and arrive at your home/office/hotel at the other end?

Sure, the flight itself is shown as almost exactly two hours.  But add to that the travel time to the airport, waiting, checking in, waiting, security, getting to the gate, waiting, boarding, waiting, pushing back and taxiing, waiting, then flying, then landing, taxiing, waiting, de-planing, going to luggage claim, waiting, getting your bags, getting to the ground transportation option, and traveling to your ultimate destination.

The notional two-hour flight (which actually only takes about an hour and a quarter of in-the-air flying) can easily extend into close to a full day event from go to whoa.

Plus you are hassled at every step of the way, and suffer from regrettable and unpredictable levels of bad service from petty tyrants employed variously by the government, by airport authorities, and by airlines, all of whom share one uniting common feature – they all hate the passengers they are employed to ‘serve’, and their employers also seem to have little care or concern about truly providing the quality service they all unite so hypocritically to claim they wish to offer.

There’s got to be a better way.  And, yes, indeed there is.

Private Plane Charter – No Longer Just for Gazillionaires

If you’re observant or know the areas you’re traveling from and to, you might notice an interesting thing – you are driving past other, smaller, airports, on your way to the major airports you are flying in and out of.  That’s your first clue there might be a better way to travel.

Cast your mind back a month or so, and remember the frenzied pace of campaigning by the presidential candidates?  They’d turn up in half a dozen different cities in a single day.  That’s your second clue there might be a better way to travel.

Now for the good news.  You’ve probably already guessed we’re talking about traveling by private plane (usually jet but potentially propellor driven too), and you’re probably also guessing that the cost of that is unrealistically high for all except the last top tiny slice of that fabled “Privileged 1%” of our society.

Well, yes, it is expensive, and definitely not for the other famous slice of our society – the “Parasitic 47%”.  But if you’re a mid or senior level manager who usually flies first class anyway, and in particular, if you’re traveling with others, you might be astonished at how affordable private jet travel is, and especially if there’s an offsetting value on the time you save, you might find yourself quickly justifying the apparent extra cost.

While there are lots of reasons to fly by private jet, if you’re hoping to be able to justify the cost from a business perspective, most of your consideration will be focused on issues of time and convenience.  Which is not to say you should forget about the other amazingly positive factors like enjoying a slice of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ and being given truly great service by people who truly are dedicated to ensuring your travel experience is as ultra-comfortable as possible.  The simple fact of emerging from a flight and not feeling like you’ve had to go three rounds in the boxing ring with the local heavyweight bruiser, the simple fact that you can look forward to your next flight with eager anticipation rather than anxious dread – these are massively positive issues that surely have some dollar value too.

But let’s concentrate, for now, on the obvious tangible rewards and benefits.

There are several benefits of flying on a private jet.  The first, as hinted at above, is that you often can choose more convenient airports that are closer to where your travels will actually start and finish.  There are about 500 commercial airports in the US that offer some degree of regular scheduled service, but there are over 5,000 ‘GA’ (general aviation) airports, most of which can handle charter flights.

A related benefit is that smaller airports are usually less congested, easier to park at if you are leaving your car there (and, hey, you might save a few dollars on the parking too), and because you’ll be flying from a General Aviation terminal or ‘Fixed Base Operator’ building, you bypass the crush of people in the main terminals, and the long walks (sometimes even train rides) to the gates.

Instead, you walk straight through the terminal or office or whatever, almost without pausing, to wherever you are met by your pilot, and then directly on to your nearby plane.  No checking in, no boarding passes, no luggage tagging, and no security, either (yes, you can take more than 100 ml of liquids with you).  No wait for your row to be called to board the plane, and no rush to get some precious space in the overhead.

Make yourself comfortable on your plane, and within minutes, you’ll be taxiing away and within a few more minutes, you’ll be airborne (smaller airports are less congested and with shorter ground distances to taxi).

The same thing, in reverse, happens at the other end.  The plane will land – possibly at a more convenient airport than where the commercial flights land, go directly to a convenient place for you to immediately deplane, collect your luggage from the plane (with no waiting or luggage damage/loss concerns), then immediately go to your choice of ground transportation and from there to your final destination.

Remember that example flight between Chicago and New York?  You can take maybe 30 minutes, maybe more off the time from scheduled departure to scheduled arrival, and take even more time off for any delays that might occur with a scheduled flight, and instead of traveling further to less convenient airports, you can save time getting to and from the departure and arriving airports.  Instead of arriving two hours early for your flight, you can arrive 2 minutes early (it isn’t as though the flight will leave without you, is it!), and instead of taking another 30 minutes or more to get off the plane, to and through baggage claim, and so on, it will take you maybe 3 minutes.  From arriving at an airport to departing from the other airport, you could save 3 hours, and from leaving your point of origin and traveling to the departure airport to arriving at your ultimate destination, you could save 4 or more hours.

How much is four hours of time worth?  If you are traveling with two or three other executives, how much is the time saved for all of you worth?

There’s another related aspect to that as well.  The speed efficiencies of traveling by private jet can make it possible to go to places for a day, leaving home at a reasonable time in the morning, spending most of the day at your destination, and still being home at a reasonable time in the evening.  Maybe you can even emulate a presidential candidate and travel to two or three places in a day, with no need to worry about connecting flights, transiting through hubs, conforming to flight schedules or anything at all.

Our point here is that you can do tremendously more per each day of traveling via private jet than you otherwise could in two or three days of traveling via scheduled flights, plus you’re not intruding as objectionably into your home and private life, either.

Jet Charter Costs

Okay, so by now you’re wondering how much it will cost.  Keep reading – all will be revealed.

There are a number of different ways to charter private jets, ranging from a simple one-off charter, to various degrees of commitments, either to a minimum number of hours of charter within a year, to fractional ownership schemes, and of course all the way up to owning your own corporate/personal jet.

The best solution for each person depends on the nature and extent of their anticipated usage.

But let’s take a simple and ‘worst case’ example to get a feeling about the comparative cost of jet charter compared to scheduled service.  Let’s look at that Chicago-New York flight again, which we’ll say represents 1 hr 20 minutes of charter cost.  Flying a regular flight, a first class seat would cost between $400 – $1600 one way.  Other similar duration flights would include Seattle to San Francisco (F tickets $300 – $1200) and Atlanta/Houston ($400 – $1400).

For a charter, you would be looking at a cost of (very approximately) $3000 (for a six or seven seater) or $4250 (eight seater) or $6200 (12 seater).  So, if you could fill all the seats on the charter plane, you’d be paying the same or slightly more, or maybe even appreciably less, than you would for scheduled service, per person traveling (ie $430 in a 7 seater, $530 in an 8 seater or $520 in a 12 seater).

Indeed, if we look at the high-end of the ticket prices, you’d only need to travel with one companion in the six seater to have almost exactly the same travel cost, plus a huge four-hour saving in travel time, plus a massively more pleasant experience.

If you were traveling by yourself, you would be paying $1500 or more over the price of a regular first class ticket, but you’d be saving yourself four hours or more of time, plus enjoying the more positive travel experience and being more refreshed and productive for the rest of the day.  Many professional people charge their time at a rate such that the extra chargeable time would pretty much recoup the cost of the charter, and any shortfall would be more than matched by the enormous convenience of traveling when you want, rather than when the airline says, and knowing that you’ll never be either early or late for your flight – you’ll always be exactly on time!

(Here is the jet charter pricing data we used for these indicative costings, above.)

You can massage the costs any which way you like, and the numbers may vary enormously depending on what charter operators serve a route, and the type of plane you choose, but our point here is simple and obvious – chartering a plane is much less expensive than you might have assumed, and offers a huge raft of associated benefits.

More on Jet Charters

We’ll be writing more on this topic in future articles, but if you can’t wait, your two main resources would be :

For a huge amount of information on partial ownership and prepaid blocks of hours, see www.Netjets.com – probably the definitive company and best choice for this type of private jet travel.

For an excellent repository of general charter information and links to the better charter operators, see www.Jetcharters.com .  Unlike charter brokers, this site does not get between you and the ultimate operators, it merely puts you in touch, and for free.

Further Articles in the Series

We are adding more articles to this series.  Please click the links for (articles are added here as we publish them) :

1.  How to More than Halve Your Travel Time – and Double Your Travel Pleasure – While Flying Around the US  (this article)

2.  How to Save Money on Private Jet Travel

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