Delta Private Jets, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, earlier this year launched Sky Access. You pay $8,500 and can fly as many empty legs as you want at no additional cost. You also get 20% off select fares on Delta’s airline flights. There is a $500 fee if you cancel or no show. Over this weekend 66 empty legs were listed, although some such as Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, all of 30 miles, wouldn’t even give you time to pop open a beer. More interesting was Washington D.C. to Chicago and New York to Sarasota. There were also Nantucket to New York and Las Vegas to San Francisco, however, they were both on Friday, so the wrong direction for most people, and that’s the point, and perhaps a good segue to discussing the some of the downsides.
WE were told to go to First Aviation Services terminal at Teterboro but our plane was at another terminal so we wasted over 45 minutes trying to find our aircraft and our agent was not at all helpful. In fact he told us someone was coming to pick us up and they never came and we had to find someone to help us get to the terminal our plane was located at. The agent asked us for our rental car info but when we landed in Naples the rental car was not at the terminal and we had to find a ride over to the other side of the air field to get our rental car. The flight was great but the handling of the pre and post flight were below normal and not what I am used to when I fly private.
When it comes to small planes, weight matters. Don't be surprised when your contact emails you for all passenger weights, and when the pilot organizes seating by weights. (You don't want the three biggest people on the right side, for instance.) Similarly, don't expect to bring two weeks of stuff for a weekend, and definitely mention if you're planning on bringing golf clubs or skis. If they don't fit, check out ShipSticks or LuggageForward, which sends your equipment beforehand for a relatively small fee.
Joel and Stratos are amazing! He made sure our flight was tailored perfectly and was very responsive and always available for contact. They catered specifically to our needs with late notice. The pilots were fantastic and patient, especially considering we had three animals and arrived 10 minutes before take-off. They provided the smoothest flight in the Hawker we’ve ever taken. Stratos offered transportation to and from; the boarding process was welcoming and convenient. We will only fly privately with Stratos Jets through Joel and his team. Thank you guys for everything!
Same on return flight except we arrived a good half hour early but crew jumped to task and loaded us and dogs promptly for return. Only item worth mentioning was during climb out to altitude both my wife and I heard numerous bumping sound on both sides of fuselage up and down the sides and top. We have owned our own planes and owned shares in jets through Flight Options and chartered often over the years and we have never had this type of noise. It almost sounded like rivets coming out or random bird strikes (which I knew it was not). I mentioned it to the co-pilot and he told me to report it so maintenance could be sure to check it out. Said it may be a maintenance issue on an older aircraft but a first for me. After attaining altitude the noise did not reoccur. All else went according to schedule and the pilots were very professional and assisted on and off with dogs and luggage. I would use again this service. Thank
Fliers with flexibility should sign up for empty-leg email lists of companies like Magellan Jets, who regularly send out emails selling discounted flights from, say, the plane of a corporate exec who flew to Los Angeles but is looking to offset his cost of getting the plane back to New York. “I wouldn’t say that the cost of flying private has gone down, but there are new ways of pricing charter that makes it more accessible,” says David Zipkin, co-founder and VP of Tradewind, the service known for semi-private flights in the Northeast and Caribbean. “In our case, we save people money with our shared charters, and we also sell discounted empty legs.”
For those who don't mind mingling with strangers, companies like Tradewind offer shuttles between places like New York and Boston, Stowe, and Nantucket, as well as Caribbean Islands like St. Barth's and Anguilla. (Flights begin at $250 plus tax each way.) The bonus? On a route from from San Juan to St. Barth's, a Tradewind rep will meet you at your terminal and help shuttle you through. JetSuiteX, affiliated with JetBlue, sells seats on planes between Burbank and Las Vegas.
As the assistant who actually booked the trip and made the plans for my employer and her family, I must say that the experience was a new one for me. That said, the unfamiliar process was made much simpler thanks to the knowledge, expertise and patience of my rep, Christina Nesbit. She was extremely informative and helped thru each step of the process, reassuring me that the passengers were getting the most appropriate plane for their needs.I will double check to be sure there isn't any additional feedback I am missing, but to date I was told that the flight was a pleasurable one and they were appreciative and impressed that the President came to greet them pre flight as well.Thank you, Shari
Having used many charter companies before with mixed experiences, I can say with confidence that Stratos has the best service and highest level of professionalism of any of the charter services I have encountered. Most recently, we had an unfortunate last minute cancellation of a charter booked through another service, and Stratos came through at the last minute to find the right plane at the right price for us with under 24 hour notice. I cannot thank them enough for their professionalism as well as their willingness and ability to go above and beyond to find the right charter for us - even as a first time customer.
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