The most economical option is chartering, which doesn't require any cash upfront (other than a deposit) through companies like Tradewind, Sentient, and Solairus, (which we took home from North Carolina). Of course, there are the old standbys like NetJets and Marquis, who sell fractional ownership (like 1/16th) of a single jet for upwards of $100K. One step down from that, pricewise, is the jet card, where you buy a set amount of hours from a company like Nicholas or Private Jet Services, and can use those hours for different planes. Then there are membership models like WheelsUp, where you pay $17,500 as an initiation fee to fly in their fleet, and then a $8,500 annual dues fee starting the second year. It's like a country club—only you're guaranteed access to a KingAir350i or Citation Excel / XLS instead of a golf course.
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.
For those unfamiliar with air charter costs, prices can initially be a bit intimidating. One reason for the higher costs associated with flying privately is of course the fact that some of the costs incurred are costs that are typically shared by all passengers on commercial flights, whereas, in the case of chartering a private aircraft, you are chartering the entire aircraft and crew for your exclusive use.
Over the years, the popularity of private air charter services has soared. And once you’ve experienced a private charter flight, you’ll understand why! While there are many reasons for the growing interest in charter air services, common motivations for flying private charter include the greater convenience, comfort, privacy -- and productivity -- that private charter flights provide, above and beyond what is provided by first- and business-class seats offered by commercial airlines.
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.
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.”
Eric Bold and Stratos Jets came to the rescue this week whilst I was trying to evacuate friends and families from Puerto Rico during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Eric was beyond helpful and always courteous. He was quick to find an aircraft within my budget and stayed in contact with me at every point during our transaction to update me on all matters concerning our trip. I would highly recommend Stratos Jets to anyone and I look forward to working with them on our next trip.
From the moment you contact us, until after your trip has concluded, we strive to exceed your expectations. We structure our business to provide seamless coordination and reliable execution for every private jet rental that we organize. Whether your private travel plans call for a demanding, multi-leg flight, or a one-way charter, we support each itinerary with the same attention to detail that we believe is necessary for you to SOAR HIGHER.