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.
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.”
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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.