Each year some 488 million Americans travel for business in the United States an average of 1.3 million business trips per day. Overall, about one-third of business travelers hit the friendly skies to get where they need to go, spending, on average, $990 for domestic flights and $2,525 for international trips.  Airfare always represents a sizeable chunk of business-travel expenses, but does it ever make sense to make the move from business class to a private jet charter?

A Cost-Efficient Option?

While private jet charters are notoriously expensive, a number of companies now market private jets as an affordable – and convenient – option, especially if you’re traveling in a group. “The more people that need to go somewhere, the more it starts making financial sense to fly privately,” says Michael Chase, a principal at aviation consulting firm M.D. Chase & Associates.   

Private Jet Services, a private-jet consulting firm based in New Hampshire, explains on its website that private air travel can save up to 25% – or more – off business class fares. In one example they show a New York to London flight for 47 people (there’s that group savings) that costs $172,000 to charter. That equals $3,660 per person – about half the $6,600 average cost for a business class ticket during the same time period.

Another way to save is by purchasing last-minute seats. Irvine, Calif.–based JetSuite, for example, which charters flights on its fleet of four-passenger Phenom 100s and six- or seven-passenger CJ3 jets, offers daily deals on empty flights to fill vacant seats. A recent deal advertised a one-way flight on a four-seater jet from Las Vegas to Oakland, Calif. for $536 – the price for the whole jet. On Google Flights, the best business fare on a commercial flight the same day was $264, or $1,056 for four passengers – about twice what it cost for the jet.

Other Considerations

If you have the money to fly privately, cost is probably not your only consideration in choosing how to travel. Other factors may include:

Time Commercial flights take a long time. Parking, checking in, going through security, waiting at the gate, delayed flights and connections (especially when missed) all add time to your trip, which means lost business productivity. According to Presidential-Aviation.com, private-jet charters require as few as 15 minutes to check in and get the flight underway. “Your car pulls up and five minutes later you’re sitting in the airplane: There’s no TSA, no boarding process, no lines, no baggage check,” says Alex Wilcox, CEO of JetSuite.    

Flexible Locations Private aviation allows business travelers to use the hundreds of small regional airports in the U.S. and around the world to which commercial airlines have no access. This can save a considerable amount of time in getting to the airport, not to mention that it can be much more convenient.

Flexible Scheduling If your schedule makes it difficult to travel on the commercial airlines’ timetables, private jets offer a solution. You can plan your trips pretty much any time of the day to get you to your destination exactly when you want.

Privacy With commercial flights you always have unfamiliar passengers and flight attendants around you. Jet charters offer privacy so that passengers can conduct business and take care of important tasks. “If there are four, five or six people flying together, they can work in total privacy [on a private jet], whereas if you’re in first class on [a commercial airline], you have no idea who you’re sitting next to,” says Wilcox.  (For more, see The Economics of Private Jet Charters)

The Bottom Line

A private jet charter makes sense for certain business travelers – especially those who value time, flexibility and privacy. It can also be a cost-efficient option if you’re traveling in a group, and per-person rates often end up less expensive than equivalent business class fares.

If you want to fly privately, you have other options, including investing in fractional ownership and buying a jet card, a prepaid option that gives buyers a certain number of hours of charter time. (For more, see Private Jet? There’s an App for That.)




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