Written by Alex M. Early, CEO of The Early Air Way
We get charter requests from all sorts of people… Naturally we get requests from the passengers themselves, but we also get requests from travel agents, personal assistants, hotel concierges, limo drivers, credit card concierges, concierge companies, people at the front desk of an FBO, pseudo jet brokers, and then of course the travel agent who called the pseudo jet broker who called us. How much do these people know about air charter?
The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of training required to properly select a private jet for a given flight. Many [not all] of the people listed above have no idea how to properly shop for a jet, and have no idea what makes one option better from the next. What we encounter for the most part when there are inexperienced intermediaries involved in the shopping process is that they’re paying attention to one thing and one thing only… price.
The single most common reason for an unsatisfied guest is the selection of an aircraft that was inadequate for the trip because it was the cheapest. Hands down, this is the single biggest reason for dissatisfied passengers. Here’s a frequent example:
We get a call from “intermediary A” saying that they have a client who needs a very luxurious aircraft to fly 8 passengers from Point A to Point B. As a jet company, when we hear “very luxurious,” we immediately want to offer something along the lines of a Gulfstream G450 to accommodate a group of 8 in luxury and comfort. When we call said intermediary back with a quote for a G450, we’ll hear “I’m not offering that to my client, I have another option for half the price.” We’ll then probe a bit more and find out that this other less expensive option is actually on a 30 year old light jet where the passengers would literally be sitting on each other’s laps as opposed to our 5 year old G450 with a cabin attendant and plenty of abundant space. The concerning issue here is that all too often, the intermediary won’t know that there was a difference between the two planes and is just out there looking for the cheapest option. Many of these intermediaries are well versed in shopping for commercial airline tickets, though likely have never stepped foot on a private jet before.
All too often have we had passengers show up for the inexpensive light jets that they booked and are disappointed by the plane’s small size, slow speed, and/or old appearance. There is definitely a value in smaller and/or older light jets, though only for passengers who are properly told what they’re getting and what the alternative is in advance of their booking.
With this said, we work with many fantastic travel agents, concierges, and assistants who absolutely know what they’re doing when it comes to private jet charter. My advice to you however is to only work with a company who truly knows private aviation and how to properly advise you. If you don’t know the difference between aircraft types, make sure your advisor does or you’ll end up with a one-way ticket to a disappointing flight experience.