I travel regularly for business and have booked charter flights through a number of different private jet companies. At the beginning of the year, I was referred to Joel at Stratos. Since then, I have booked a number of flights through Stratos. His team does a great job ensuring we have a seamless travel experience. I would definitely recommend Stratos to others.
Other near-term empty leg deals included Houston to Aspen on a Citation X seating eight for $14,000, not much less than an eight-seat Learjet 45XR for $18,945 with a normal charter. Skyjet, a broker that also offers empty legs had one this weekend from Nassau in the Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale on a six-seat Phenom 300 for $3,000. Ft. Lauderdale to Key West and Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale, also on a Phenom 300, were being offered at $2,625 each. Chartering a similar aircraft for the same timings the regular way would run around $6,000.
Charter companies offer a tailored service in which the client has a choice of meals, drinks, staffing levels and additional services. Tour companies aim to maximize profits, so public charters usually only provide a very basic service to passengers, with a cheap -- or no -- meal, minimal staffing and low baggage allowances. With a private charter, organizations can take advantage of options such as video conferencing, business services and corporate branding. In-flight meals are of a better quality, and passengers do not have luggage restrictions. With public charters, passengers still have to stand in line for check-in and security, so they need to be at the airport two to three hours before the flight. With a private charter, you can pass straight through security and onto the aircraft.
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.
But your enjoyment doesn’t end with a comfortable flight. These days, many private jets are equipped with DVD and CD players -- and some even offer surround sound. You’ll have a library of movies and music to choose from -- or you can bring along your own. Your flight planner will work with you to make sure you have the entertainment you desire.
Privacy is one of the main advantages of a charter flight. Unlike a commercial flight, where travelers are herded through a crowded airport, having to undergo an intrusive security screening, passengers on a charter flight depart from a private facility known as an FBO. At most private airports, passengers can pull their cars right up to the plane.
I was thouroughly impressed with the professionalism of the Broker Joel, the flight organizer Sarah and the crew on both legs. The aircraft was clean, in good shape and right on time. The crew was friendly and professional to me and my guests. Two small issues were getting a tail number on less than 12 hours that made getting our rental cars more complex than necessary and more significant was being notified by our bank that you tried to bill my flight a couple times when I paid in full prior to first leg. All in all I would use them again but would encourage one contact who checks in daily a few days prior to flight rather than me having try to figure out who to call when it looked like a couple problems were coming up.