A public charter is one in which a tour operator rents the aircraft and advertises and sells seats to members of the public, either directly or through a travel agent. In the case of public charters, the flight must be filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the tour operator must supply a charter prospectus. The tour operator also must assume a legal responsibility to provide the transportation service, and must abide by DOT requirements for the protection of the clients' money. Public charters often operate only seasonally, and are often sold as part of a vacation package deal, although spare seats may be offered at bargain prices.
If the paying customer – that person shelling out $5,000 to $20,000 per hour - cancels his or her trip, then your empty leg will also be cancelled. If you were going somewhere, make sure your hotel and car rental reservations can be changed without penalty. If you were using an empty leg to get home, make sure you also scan the airline schedules and availability so you have a backup plan. Most empty legs can be cancelled anytime before departure, and reasons can include that delays earlier in the day meant your pilots ran out of time to something on the inbound flight broke and needs to be fixed. Oh, and that’s it. You’ll get a refund of your money, but you’re usually on your own, perhaps sitting in a private jet terminal at an airport with no commercial flights.
We prefer to finalize our itinerary, plane and crew at least a week in advance. We did not get things completely final until the day of the actual flight. Secondly, we prefer to pay post-flight rather than pre-flight. You were able to make an exception in our case which was appreciated. Lastly, the quality of the catering service from STT was atrocious. It was inedible.
Stratos Jet Charters doesn’t just claim to provide our clients with the best private jet charter service, we deliver it. We are consistently able to deliver world-class customer experience because we invest in key personnel. Our team shares our passion for excellence in private aviation. With more than a decade of experience in arranging thousands of private jet flights, we have developed a proprietary trip management system. This allows our Trip Support team to collaborate in real-time with our clients, booking agents, air carriers and concierge service providers involved with the trip. As a result, every private jet rental we book is arranged entirely to the client’s satisfaction.
There are potentially even better deals. JetSuite offers SuiteDeals for as little as $500 each way. You have to sign up on its website, but when I visited, it didn’t have any flights listed. Wheels Up has a program called 8760. You pay $6,900 annually and access empty legs for as little as $320. You also get entry to its hospitality at events at the Super Bowl, The Masters, other high profile confabs, plus an Inspirato Key Membership which normally has a $10,000 initiation fee and then $3,500 annual dues.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask about safety: Any reputable operator should have safety information prominently featured on their website, and won't mind answering questions about their pilots, such as how many hours they have flown. (At least 250 hours, which is what it takes to get a commercial license; NetJets mandates at least 2,500 hours; Wheels Up, mandates 7,000 hours for a captain and 4,000 for a first officer.) Gollan suggests fliers ask if the pilot has any health issues, and feel free to ask if the operator (or plane itself) have any accidents or incidents in its history.
Of course, the cheapest way to fly privately is to have a friend who invites you on their flight. Then there are the semi-private charters like JetSmarter, JetSuiteX and JetClass where you can buy a seat on a scheduled private jet and corporate shuttle flight sharing it with strangers, much like if you were on a commercial airline. You can buy tickets on these flights for under $200 and you do avoid those crowded main airport terminals. However, if you want to have the real deal experience, chartering your own private jet, you are looking at something between $5,000 and up to $20,000 per hour depending on the size of aircraft and routing.
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.