Choosing the right private jet for your travel needs
Last updated: 29/11/2017
For many superyacht owners and charter guests, private air travel is simply the best way to travel the world. Its flexibility allows the opportunity to meet with the yacht in the South of France, before hopping to Milan for a spot of shopping, and Paris for dinner. But, with a plentiful choice of charter jets and luxury aircraft, all varying vastly in price, status and function, it is imperative to select a jet that fits the requirements in hand.
Yachting Pages presents a guide to choosing the right private jet for your travel needs, with insight into working with air charter brokers, and the points to consider when chartering a private jet.
Choosing the right private jet to charter for your needs
For those not ‘in the know’ about private jet travel and aviation, the process of booking a private jet can, much like the yacht charter process, be a daunting one to face alone.
Forbes reports that, while private jets may largely be grouped together by the mainstream media, there are in fact a wealth of differences between the private jets and luxury airliners available for charter. They highlight that Jet Advisors, a specialist in assisting clients with their private jet needs lists over 80 choices of jet, spread over eight categories.
For a simple short-haul trip, there are Compact Light Jets and Small Cabin Jets like the Citation Mustang and Beechjet 400A, ranging right up to the Gulfstream G-IV Large Cabin Heavy Jets and Boeing 737 Bizliners with interior arrangements that accommodate the same luxury living as aboard the superyacht itself, with private bedrooms, full bathrooms and conference rooms.
How to charter a private jet: Working with an air charter broker
Much like luxury yacht charter, private jet charter is best arranged through a good air charter broker. Although there are plenty of good websites and smartphone apps to guide clients through the process, there is nothing like good old-fashioned service and a human rapport - especially for the first-time flyer.
By utilising the service of a private jet or air charter broker, you may avoid the maze of pitfalls that may arise during the booking process, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Eight points to consider when chartering a private jet
The interior space and cabin configuration
Quite obviously, the bigger the jet, the bigger the cabin. If you (or your boss) are particularly big or tall, it may be worth considering a larger or more sparsely furnished jet to avoid discomfort when moving around the cabin. Not only will you be able to walk upright, you will typically find larger furniture (more comfortable seating), more space or ‘rooms’ on board (private bedrooms) and full-size bathrooms.
Evidently you will know that if you are travelling with eight passengers, you will need at least eight seats, but increasing the size of the jet will allow for more space on board for passengers - and their luggage. Shopping around will show that the same jet when privately owned may provide a more flexible interior configuration than the same jet when operated as part of a commercial fleet, but we will cover that more later.
The passengers (and their needs)
Whether your passengers are family, influential friends, executive guests or business associates, each will have different personal and in-flight needs. There are many different features and amenities to be considered for each group: Unrivalled entertainment systems for the kids, a fully stocked kitchen and bar for in-flight entertaining and/or reliable on-board Wi-Fi for business meetings.
Of course, if you are travelling alone, you only have your own wants and needs to consider – a private jet with a large master suite may therefore be just the ticket. Discover the top 10 private jet features and amenities here.
The travel range and speed of service
With great size comes great responsibility. A small jet can only travel so far, so a longer-haul trip may require a larger aircraft with bigger fuel tanks, or one that can travel faster for short-notice meetings.
A midsize jet will be able to take on more fuel for longer non-stop travel than a small jet, opening up more three-to-four-hour flight routes for passengers, whereas a super midsize jet will be able to achieve flights of up to seven or eight hours and a Bizjet beyond that. Speed and fuel economy of course varies per aircraft.
When considering your destination, the travel range will not be the only important consideration for your chosen aircraft. You may also need to consider the limitations of your arrival and departure airports, as smaller regional airports may only be able to accommodate jets of a certain maximum size.
Your chosen destination(s), may also mean that you need to consider jets with yet even more space for additional luggage. For example, even though you may have an unlimited luggage allowance, your destination may mean accommodation is needed for more or larger luggage; such as bulky winter sports and golf gear when flying into Aspen, or trunks of luxury clothing and accessories when visiting St Tropez.
The jet charter agreement
As in the superyacht industry, the aircraft available for charter either come from fleet operators (charter brokers) who own their jets, or private owners who pay a management company to manage their aircraft for charter. It’s worth bearing in mind therefore that the same jet may vary greatly in interior configuration and on-board amenities, as one owned by a fleet operator will typically offer a more standardised layout than the same model when owned privately, which may have been customised to offer more flexible seating and innovative features.
The charter agreement can also therefore vary, but it is typical for taxes, flight crew, dispatch and maintenance costs to be included in the charter price. Wendy Courtenay of Private Jet Charter advised that charter companie also often include further premium services as part of the arrangement, including catering, transfers and dedicated account managers as part of the advertised price, as well as full discretionary service, with access to VIP airport lounges, and private jet terminals with private check-in facilities.
While money or expenditure may not be the first worry for passengers chartering aboard a luxury jet, everybody likes to save a pretty penny from time to time. With such variation in cost in private jet charter, it’s worth setting and giving your broker a budget or maximum spend to guide their choices.
Typically speaking, the larger/newer the aircraft, and the more options and amenities selected, the higher the cost. But there are bargains to be had even in the private air travel industry, with ‘empty-leg’ flights, loyalty card programmes and ‘all-you-can-fly’ annual membership options on offer for cheaper and more cost-effective travel.
The design and status
Of course, each frequent charter flyer will have their favourite aircraft make and model for travel, but as with cars and superyachts, there are those with more ‘brand recognition’ and status than others - all down to preference.
Depending on the charter or occasion, some fleet operators will allow for branding to be printed on the side of a jet. This is a great way to celebrate a special occasion, or to showcase business branding.
Wendy Courtney of Private Jet Charter explained, “For meetings, incentive trips, conferences, exhibitions, product launches and bespoke events, using a private aircraft is a fantastic way to get a group of clients to and from an event making it special right from the word go, clients will feel like VIP's.
“For added wow factor, we can brand the aircraft. For example, putting a company logo on the outside of the aircraft will make it appear to be a company-owned aircraft. Branding inside can be put on the headrest covers, drink mats and stirrers. You can even choose the menu to suit the destination or theme of your event. The possibilities really are endless!”
Perhaps you are just as safety conscious in the air as you are on the water. If so, it’s worth looking for aviation operators that are rated by Wyvern and/or ARGUS for peace-of-mind during air travel. These are independent rating systems which allow charterers to make informed decisions and manage risk when picking their charter provider and aircraft.
Alongside the above points, further consideration may also be given to the build of the aircraft in terms of the level of noise generated by the engines for a peaceful flight, and for its environmental impact.