Written by Alex M. Early, CEO of The Early Air Way
So you’re new to chartering a private jet, fantastic! You’re about to enter a world free of airport strip searches, crowded terminals, and wasted time. Private jet travel is a fantastic thing; traveling can be as easy and private as relaxing in your own living room. Once you fly private for the first time, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the world will just feel smaller.
Your first few charter experiences can be a daunting task if you don’t know what to look for however. Below are my top five tips for the private jet charter novice.
- Chose your air charter broker wisely! These days, you can jump on Google and come up with a plethora of jet charter companies in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately however, a pretty website is no way to pick your private jet company. Call a few companies, explain your general needs to whomever answers the phone, and analyze the agent’s knowledge about his/her industry before asking for pricing. You’ll know within a few minutes who knows what they’re doing and who is looking after your best interest vs. who is looking to make a quick buck off of you. Yes, you should judge the quality of the company’s products, reliability, and even aircraft quality by how the representative sounds on the phone.
2. Explore the differences between aircraft types and sizes. Many novice air charter buyers never think to consider the type or size of aircraft that is being quoted for their trips. When charter companies see this, we immediately quote entry-level light jets because we know that you [the novice charter buyer] are likely only looking at prices. Experienced charter flyers know that you have to consider the type and size of aircraft for every trip, however. Say you’re looking for the least expensive plane to fly from Washington, DC to San Jose, CA; you could end up with a plane that is:
- Too small to be remotely comfortable.
- Old and doesn’t look nice.
- Doesn’t have a lavatory.
- Doesn’t have enough room for your baggage.
- Doesn’t have a galley to heat food.
- Will add three hours to your journey because of speed and/or range limitations.
If all you care about is getting the cheapest plane, you’ll have to lower your standards on the aircraft’s physical appearance and size. New and larger planes can be offered by nearly any company, but they won’t be the cheapest options.
3. Understand the truth about empty legs. We get so many calls from people asking for empty leg flights based on a story they’ve read online or what someone once told them over the phone about empty legs. Empty legs do exist, however there are only a few ways in which they’ll benefit you.
4. Schedule “sliding departures” if you’re not going to be on time. One perk of flying on a private jet is that the plane will schedule itself around you… in most cases. You don’t have to arrive early for a private jet departure; showing up at the time of your departure is showing up on time. There are some instances where a passenger will arrive hours late however; this can pose a problem. Often times there will be more than one flight scheduled on a plane in a day, and late passenger arrivals wouldn’t be accommodated in this instance. Second, charter flight crews are regulated as to how much time they can work in a day; on very rare occasions we’ve had passengers arrive so late that the crew was no longer legal to fly the trip. Because of this, if you know you might not be on time, be sure to schedule a sliding departure. With a sliding departure, we set a window of 1 to 3 hours wherein you can arrive anytime with that window and expect the plane and crew to be ready to go instantly.
5. Pick the right airport. Generally speaking, first time charter buyers will always request the major airports in a city. For Los Angeles Private Jet Charter for example, novices will ask for LAX. JFK for New York Jet Charter, SFO in San Francisco, DFW in Dallas; so on and so forth. In almost every city, there will be a smaller private airport that is:
Closer to you.
Much less expensive to use.
Much more convenient once you arrive.
Less prone to air traffic delays resulting from commercial traffic.
Always ask your charter professional for his/her recommended airports for your trip. In Los Angeles, it might be Van Nuys, Santa Monica, Burbank, or Ontario. In San Francisco it might be Hayward, Oakland, San Carlos, San Jose, Concorde, Napa, etc. There are so many choices; I hate to see people spend more money for an airport that is less convenient for them.
Last but not least, ASK QUESTIONS! If there is anything you’re ever unsure of, make sure you’re working with a knowledgeable charter professional whom you trust to give you honest and educated advice.