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.
The company I represent was in a crisis situation where we needed to get halfway across the country within a matter of hours. The only available commercial flight was sold out and nothing would get us there in time. After doing some research, I found Stratos Jet Charters and called Joel at around 7 in the morning. He answered right away and were at the airport two hours later. Because it was a high stress situation in a short amount of time, I called Joel and his team countless times in a two hour window; they remained extremely professional and kind. Plus, Joel was able to get us an extremely competitive price, especially considering the short notice. I highly recommend using Stratos Jet Charters and know I will definitely use them again.
No matter what company you're flying with, be sure to ask if there two pilots or one. (Though two pilots are standard on commercial flights, regulations vary for private planes of all sizes.) It also helps to ask if the operator owns the plane—typically, companies that own their planes offer better service. Never forget to ask about daily minimums and taxi fees. "If the hourly rate is $9,000 and you have a single 40-minute flight, you might assume you are going to pay $6,000," says Doug Gollan, creator of PrivateJetCardComparisons.com. "But if your provider has a daily minimum of 1.5 hours, you are going to actually be charged $13,500, plus taxi time, which in my comparisons I have found varies between being included and up to 12 minutes per segment."
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.
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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.
© 2018 Air Charter Service Worldwide | Disclaimer: ACS arranges flights on behalf of our clients with FAR Part 135 direct air carriers that exercise full operational control of charter flights at all times. Flights will be operated by FAR Part 135 direct air carriers that have been certified to provide service for ACS charter clients and that meet all FAA safety standards. ACS are not an aircraft operator.