Jet charter service means different things to different people. For business travellers, it’s an invaluable management tool that allows executives to attend out-of-town meetings, tour facilities and visit regional offices in-person. For personal travellers, it’s a convenient way to travel anywhere in the world, while avoiding the stress, wait times and frustration associated with alternate forms of air travel.
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.
Each traveler has the opportunity to select the plane that will be most comfortable for the chosen group. Hire a helicopter for the perfect two-person sightseeing trip over upstate New York; take a group of your closest friends to island hop off the coast of mainland Florida on a turboprop plane, great for short trips. For cross-country travelers—like an East Coast group of friends planning a bachelor party or bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas—a chartered super mid-size jet that flies nonstop could do the trick. Even jumbo jets like 747’s can be chartered for a larger group—think 50 to 500 people—so that everyone can fly together without having to worry about booking tickets on a commercial airline. The best part? No luggage fees.