Private Aviation 101
Keystone Aviation. Photography by Carla Boecklin.
Since the arrival of Covid-19 into our lives, the hassles of commercial airline travel have only increased due to staffing shortages making extended delays and flight cancellations commonplace. Instead of staying grounded, many have sought the services of private airline travel. Once thought to be the province for celebrities or the uber-wealthy, chartered flights are now much more attainable. To get the scoop on the ins and outs of private travel, we checked in with four scouted companies that take to the friendly skies to ferry their clients around the globe. Read on to discover how you too could become a part of the jet set. Find a scouted private aviation company in The Scout Guide Directory.
The cost is not out of reach. Flying privately may seem prohibitively costly, but once you break down the number of passengers and distance covered, you might discover that it’s attainable. The cost will vary from company to company depending upon their business model and the aircraft you choose, so it makes sense to shop around based on your personal or business needs. With that in mind, Nate Bailey and Mike Drbul, co-founders of WiseJets, based out of Saint Louis, Missouri and Indianapolis, Indiana, explain that a smaller, regional aircraft like a turboprop, can carry four to eight passengers, and runs in the range of $2,000 to $3,500/per hour. On the opposite end of the spectrum, large heavy jets that can carry 10 to 18 passengers and travel 5,000 to 8,000 miles start at around $9,500+/hour.
Membership is not necessary. While there are some chartered airline companies that require a subscription, the majority of these businesses, and the ones interviewed for this article, do not. “We support the individual, on-demand requests,” Keaton Phillips, president of Jet 1, based out of Naples, Florida, reports. That can mean everything from short hops to a nearby lake house to more complex, 40-destination tours through Europe.
Enjoy access, perks and discounts with time blocks. In addition to booking on-demand, many companies utilize a block time model. “This is built for someone who plans on flying private multiple times a year and we sell blocks in $50,000 to $100,000 increments,” Bailey and Drbul explain. Every company is different, but the benefits can include upfront discounts on each flight, the ability to take deadhead flights at a broker rate, perks like access to any size aircraft, and car service to and from the airport.
Enjoy the ease of last-minute trips. While as much advance notice as possible is always a good thing, especially to ensure a particular aircraft, Aaron Fish, president of Keystone Aviation, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, notes that as long as there is availability, you can book as close to 24 or even 10 hours before your departure. Phillips reports that he can get a plane off the ground in as little as two hours’ notice. “However, it’s best to start planning 30 days in advance, and as early as possible for holiday travel,” he advises. “In the on-demand market, we typically find the best pricing within two weeks of travel.”
Say goodbye to hassle. One of the biggest drawbacks to flying is the inherent annoyance of modern-day air travel. When you charter a flight with a properly vetted private company, you can ensure excellent service, explains Jessica Waters, marketing director of Jett Aircraft, based out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. You’ll enjoy the best of first-class service, with door to aircraft service, always skipping security, no layovers, and other than weather, you won’t be plagued by delays.
Understanding fleet management. The way various private air travel companies manage their fleets varies. From managed fleets, like Keystone Aviation, where aircraft are entrusted to them for maintenance, storage, and charter use, and brokers, like WiseJets, who use third property operators to build a network across the country, to companies that own their own fleets, like Jett Aircraft. Jet 1 operates as a hybrid, owning its own fleet while operating a full brokerage department. There is no right or wrong way to operate, it’s simply a choice in a way of doing business.
Know cancellation policies. Unlike when you travel commercially, you can’t purchase travel insurance to protect you in the event of cancellation. However, most companies will be able to reimburse you, Waters explains, if you cancel 72 hours prior to your flight, which is much more generous than commercial policies. It’s important to read the fine print and be familiar with the company policy before booking.
TSG Tip 422 from Nate Bailey and Mike Drbul, co-founders of WiseJets, based out of Saint Louis, Missouri and Indianapolis, Indiana; Keaton Phillips, president of Jet 1, based out of Naples, Florida; Aaron Fish, president of Keystone Aviation, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Jessica Waters, marketing director of Jett Aircraft, based out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. WiseJets appears in The Scout Guide Saint Louis. Jet 1 appears in The Scout Guide Naples. Keystone Aviation appears in The Scout Guide Park City, The Scout Guide Jackson Hole, and The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale.