Who doesn't love to travel? Most people love the idea of a trip. Then again, mixing travel and work can be quite problematic: The travel time to the airport. The security check-in headaches. Then comes the actual flight, with all of the accompanying physical discomforts during the ride. How might those affect your productivity or sleep?
One clear solution to all of these problems is flying privately. Of course, most balk at the idea, for a number of compelling reasons. First, and most obvious, is the price. Then there's the fear and intimidation of the unknown. And the industry has not done enough explain how it is evolving. In fact, new options are emerging that most people don't know about.
Alex Wilcox, CEO of Private Jet Operator JetSuite and JetSuiteX, knows all about the advantages of flying privately. He explains the many misconceptions about the industry: "Most people, the media and the public alike, haven't taken the time to understand the distinction among the kinds of services out there. It isn't about Fergie 'sippin champagne and livin the life' in the back of the jet." Most don't know the difference between a broker and an operator, or a last minute empty leg versus a useable jet service. "This is also fault of the industry, which until lately has been very staid and conservative, more of a cottage industry and cost center than a consumer proposition."
For Wilcox, a member of YPO, the real value of a private flight is is actually about the private GROUND experience. "It's like the old beer campaign: everything you want in an airline (namely a fast plane) and LESS - no terminal, no security lines, no crappy food court, no crowds, no surly service." There are other obvious benefits: flying on your own schedule, accessing less used airports, freedom from the feeling that you are inconveniencing someone if you ask for a second cup of water. There are ways to get all of those benefits without chartering a whole private jet.
The traditional, whole private jet experience allowed the wealthy to fly at their own schedule, to access hundreds of airports the airlines don't serve, and to have the plane wait if a meeting runs late. Newer options mingle some of the best aspects of this service will a more affordable price. These include hybrid "public charter" operators, where the schedule is set and the plane might leave without you, but where you still get to experience private ground (i.e., hassle free) airport experiences. These include operators like Ultimate Air Shuttle in Ohio and California's JetSuiteX.
After all expenses, taxi time, and taxes, a four-passenger jet will cost around $4,000 per hour. A larger jet can cost multiples of that, but now there are ways for amortizing the costs besides just filling up the jet. And new services like Surfair and JetSuiteX cost about the same as airline tickets, although in some cases they offer fewer departure times (for now) than their big brothers. But what you make up in time wasted in the airport can more than make up for changing your schedule around them.
From least to most expensive, the brand deck stacks up like this:
· JetSuiteX - buy by the ticket, like an airline, at about the same fares.
· JetSmarter - an annual fee of $15K gives you access to jetshuttles and empty legs.
· Surfair - a monthly fee around $2K lets you book up to 4 flights at a time in advance, and you can book more flights after you fly them.
· JetSuite - Four-passenger light jets, the entry point for jet charter, go for about $4K per hour. Six-passenger jets for about $5K per hour.
· NetJets / XOJet - midsize to heavy jets for around $8K per hour and up.
Here are Wilcox's eight reasons why you should consider flying privately.
1. Recognize the value of your time, and your loved ones.
"What's the cost of missing dinner, or your daughter's practice, or your nephew's recital?" asks Wilcox.
2. Realize that all jets fly the same speed.
"It's really as much about private ground as private air."
3. Appreciate that there are more options than ever before.
"Check out Surf Air, JetSmarter, and of course JetSuite and JetSuiteX," advises Wilcox, "there are a number of newer providers that provide alternatives to the big airlines."
4. Understand the options for amortizing the cost.
"For example," he argues, "It can be way cheaper tocharter short haulthan to buy commercial last minute for a group of four or more people."
5. Enjoy the increased freedom.
"You can leave when you want and in most cases the plane wont leave without you if you are a little late," Wilcox reveals.
6. Relish the increased access.
"You can reach THOUSANDS of airports the airlines don't use, so you can get closer to where you are going."
7. Discover a unique experience.
"You get to experience one of the last remaining services that can't be digitized..." laughs Wilcox, "...yet!"
8. Live like Oprah
"This is what the queen of daytime TV herself says is the . That's jet going where and when you want, with only the people you want aboard."
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