What are the differences between flying private and scheduled commercial airlines?
When comparing the pro’s and con’s of private jet charters versus commercial flights, there are two major factors that swing to both extremes of the pendulum: cost and flexibility.
Scheduled airline service is by far the most affordable way to travel. All you need to do is find a flight on the date & time you want to travel, book your ticket, and pack your bags.
However, commercial flights are only available at your nearest commercial airport, and unless it’s a major airport, you may be limited by the number of destinations you’re able to fly to, especially non-stop.
What about Charter Airlines?
Charter airliners may present more variety, but these routes are usually offered on a seasonal basis, and may still miss the mark when trying to reach your preferred destination. Also, many charter airlines use smaller, less comfortable aircraft for some of their less popular routes.
Related: What is a Charter Flight?
Either way, both forms of scheduled airline travel comes with some well-known frustrations: Arriving at the airport hours early, waiting in long security lines, getting to 2nd base with a random TSA agent, and is the baggage carousel even going to start?
All this on top of possible delays, cancellations, screaming babies, and airborne wonders associated with commercial flights.
… and, you may have to deal with a group of crabby passengers at the baggage claim.
Chartering a Private Jet
Compare flying private vs commercial, and booking a private charter flight is always going to be more expensive.
However, with the higher cost comes higher levels of luxury, privacy, speed, flexibility, comfort and convenience incomparable to traveling commercial.
Private jets fly on the date & time you choose, to the domestic or international destination of your choice. Many charter planes will fly faster and reach higher speeds than commercial airlines, reaching your destination faster and reducing the time of your flight.
Private jets can take-off and land at major and general aviation airports, opening access to more than ten times the number of domestic destinations when compared to commercial airlines. This can also allow travelers to arrive/depart closer to their home or office.
Is it more affordable to hire a private plane for groups of 10—15?
When using private jet charter services, tickets & per person pricing are not available, making it highly unlikely to be more cost-effective than first-class commercial tickets.
Additionally, FAR Part 135 charter flights must be individually contracted and paid for.
You can split the cost between friends and collect the money after the fact, however, it will still be more expensive. That said, this is a viable option for groups willing to spend a little more.
What am I allowed to do and bring on my flight?
How many bags can I bring on a charter plane? Can I bring my golf clubs, ski equipment, or hunting rifles? Am I allowed to smoke during my private flight?
When you charter a private plane, you take full control over your travel, including what you bring, how much of it you’re bringing, and what you decide to do with it.
This includes the aforementioned items not allowed on commercial flights.
As long as it all conforms to the dimensions of the storage compartments and weight limits of your charter plane, you’re free to travel with large items including skis, golf clubs, music/DJ gear, video/photography/sporting equipment, and more.
However, just like with commercial airliners, private planes each have limits regarding the total weight of passengers and luggage.
These limits will vary from aircraft to aircraft, so make sure to discuss any concerns regarding the baggage or special items you plan to bring on your flight.
Can I travel with my children or pets on a private jet?
After a few unfortunate airline incidents involving dogs in recently months, there has been a large increase in requests for pet friendly private jet travel.
When it comes to traveling with pets, there are many private planes that allow pets on-board.
Make sure to let your broker or sales representative know you would like to travel with your pet so accommodations can be made.
Exotic animals may not be allowed, especially when flying internationally.
PetTravel.com is a comprehensive resource for both commercial and private jet travel with your pet, including all of the necessary documentation, vaccinations, and other information.
As far as traveling with children, there are no age restrictions for private jet passengers, however, some companies will not transport unaccompanied minors under the age of 18; certain arrangements can be made to accommodate youth travel in these events.
Safety & Support
While aviation has grown to reach record levels of safety around the world, it’s impossible to say whether flying private vs commercial is safer than the other.
Although there are some commercial airliners that offer excellent customer service, there’s always the potential for unruly passengers, security concerns, and forced removals (looking at you, United).
Private aviation is offered at a variety of levels and pricing points, and not all private jet operators and brokers follow the same safety standards. This usually leads you to the varying pricing points – some companies use poorly maintained planes and inexperienced pilots to offer you the lowest price.
Do you consider the lowest price the most important aspect of renting a private?
We didn’t think so, either.
That’s why it’s important for you to work with a charter company with Wyvern or ARGUS certification.
These reports detail the history of the charter operator, the experience of each pilot, and the maintenance & performance record of each plane, eliminating any potential risks from the list of aircraft options.
Many of these companies also utilize two pilots when arranging private jet flights for added safety in the event of an emergency. Veteran pilots will also cost more to fly your plane than 21 year old kids fresh out of flight school.
When flying at 40,000 feet, it’s just not worth the risk to save a few hundred dollars, or even a few thousand.
To ensure the safety of your flight, the right aircraft operators and brokers use FAA Part 135 certified charter planes, with some carrying ARGUS Platinum or Wyvern Wingman Ratings.
Many of these planes features Safety Management System (SMS) and an Emergency Response Plan (ERP). Furthermore, your private flight is tracked and followed by FAA licensed dispatchers, and your charter representative.
After your flight arrives, brokers and operators can make arrangements for ground transportation, helicopter charters, and other luxury concierge services.
What kind of planes are available for my charter flight?
This is where it depends on whether you work with a charter broker, or an operator.
Operators are typically in charge of diverse fleets that include light, midsize, and heavy jets accommodating up to 18 passengers. However, depending on your location, one of their planes may not be in your area, or the aircraft available in their fleet do not match the mission of your flight.
This is where you can get stuck paying heavy re-positioning fees without being aware it’s baked into your charter cost.
Brokers, on the other hand, have access to systems that allow them to view every charter plane in every market. This allows them to connect you to the most ideal planes for your flight, making operators compete against each other to offer the best deal possible.
This will also include empty leg jets and transient charter planes that need to return to their home airport. If you happen to be flying the same route, you can substantially reduce the cost of your charter flight.
Many brokers have an approved network of private jet charter operators, and have built relationships with these providers to deliver the best hourly charter rates and pricing in private aviation.
Private Jet Charter Pricing and Hourly Rates
What is the cost to rent a private jet? The cost of your private flight and its hourly charter rate will vary between somewhere around $1,200 to $10,000 per hour (and up)*.
The rate is based mostly on aircraft type/size you hire: the lower end of the hourly rates will be for small piston and turboprop planes for individuals and small groups, whereas midsize and heavy jets can go for around $5,000/hour, and long range luxury planes, especially newer models, can reach 5 figures/hour.
Many companies require trip minimums of 2 flight hours per day.
Make sure you review all of the options with your private jet provider and ask for an all-inclusive charter quote before applying your signature to anything.
* This rate is solely to charter an aircraft, and does not include re-positioning, cost of fuel, taxes, landing fees, and other charges.