What's the best way to travel by private jet?
Should I buy, charter or share?
There are a number of different options when you're looking to fly by private jet. Outright ownership, fractional ownership, jet cards, on-demand charter, seat sharing? It can be confusing, especially if you're new to private aviation.
To make things a little clearer, we’ve given a rundown of each of these options to help you better understand your best way to fly.
If you're weighing up which type of private jet travel is best for you, or looking for advice and prices call our 24 hour expert Flight Team on 020 7100 6960 or search for instant estimate prices using our flight search.
Buying a private jet
Let's start with the most expensive way to fly. A small number of private jet travellers choose to own their own private aircraft outright. While it can give you unparalleled freedom and flexibility, it is a huge financial commitment.
Not only can the purchase price of a private jet vary from around $400K for a second-hand light jet, to $75M for a new top-of-the-range Gulfstream G700, but the cost of managing and maintaining the aircraft can add significant ongoing costs. Crew salaries, management fees, fuel costs, landing fees, and much more can easily add another $500K a year.
Making your aircraft available to hire to others (which is how some of the aircraft in the private jet charter market come about) when you're not using it is one way to cover some of these costs. But owning an aircraft is never going to pay off in purely financial terms - so it's really only for a very small minority.
Fractional ownership of a private jet
Your next choice is fractional ownership. This is a bit like owning a 'timeshare' in a property: You own a share of an aircraft (whether it’s a quarter, an eighth etc) with a sixteenth share typically giving you about 50 hours of flying time.
You are guaranteed availability of aircraft within a certain timeframe and usually one of a closed fleet of similar aircraft, which all look the same. And there are very high levels of consistent customer service. Sometimes you can have the same crew each time you fly. This can be very appealing to those who fly often.
Fractional owners are required to sign a contract and pay upfront each year for your flying. Some restrictions are usually imposed, such as peak period and geographical range limitations.
Fractional ownership can be an excellent choice for frequent flyers, on certain routes, who are looking for exceptional consistency of service, and who are happy to make a large financial commitment upfront. However it does carry a price premium per flight, compared to on-demand charter.
Some private jet customers use a combination of both fractional and on-demand to find the best use of their budget, or if they want to fly in aircraft or to destinations that are outside of their fractional contract.
Private jet charter or on-demand flying
Which brings us to the most popular way to travel by private jet: Private jet charter. Private charter - sometimes referred to as on-demand or ad-hoc charter - is when you book a specific aircraft, for a specific journey. The price you pay is quoted for that flight only and applies to the entire aircraft, regardless of the number of people travelling (so not a price per passenger).
If you’re looking for the freedom and flexibility of private jet travel, without the hassle of buying or signing a long term contract, private jet charter is the way to go.
There are thousands of charter aircraft available worldwide, so to find the right one for your journey, at the most cost-effective price, it pays to use a private jet broker or booking service like PrivateFly - to give you a choice of aircraft and help you search the market.
PrivateFly revolutionised the way you book a private jet charter with our innovative, custom-built technology, which is integrated with thousands of accredited aircraft around the world. When you submit your flight request, aircraft operators will quote competitively on your request through our exclusive online marketplace – giving you direct access to the best options, at the best prices, for every flight.
In addition, you’ll have the support of our 24/7 expert Flight Team helping you every step of the way, ensuring your flight goes off without a hitch. Find out more: Why PrivateFly?
Jet cards are another way of accessing the on-demand market. Like fractional ownership, they require an upfront commitment in the way of a contract or membership. So they are best suited to private jet travellers who fly several times a year.
Jet cards make booking a flight very easy, usually with fixed hourly rates agreed in advance. So you know how much you will pay for a flight, on your chosen aircraft type(s) - which come from a limited range of operators in the on-demand charter market. Service levels are very high and some jet cards offer other advantages compared to the on-demand charter market, such as preferred cancellation terms and lifestyle benefits.
Like fractional ownership, jet card contracts can have limitations such as peak day exclusions and limits on geographical range.
PrivateFly offers a Jet Card in addition to our on-demand charter service. Find out more: The PrivateFly Jet Card.
Seat-sharing or shuttle services
Some innovative business models in private aviation have set out to make private jet travel even more cost-effective, by creating seat sharing or shuttle flight options.
These allow travellers to buy individual seats on a private aircraft, whether it’s on a bespoke charter flight or on a pre-determined route (a shuttle). This can bring the per person cost down considerably.
However, there are downsides to these type of flight services.
First, many of these companies ask for you to buy a subscription or membership before you even get to fly. You may need to pay this plus the cost of the seat on their aircraft – and you don’t have a choice of which aircraft you’ll be flying on.
You'll also lose the flexibility of private jet travel, ie being able to specify your own take off times and route - and being able to change the schedule if something comes up.
Second, you’ll be sharing the cabin with other travellers. This can result in longer waits in the lounge before takeoff, and sharing the cabin with strangers (which can be awkward in some aircraft, where facing groups of club seats are designed for a private group). So in many ways the experience is more like a commercial airline than a private jet.
PrivateFly is a leading global booking service for private jet charter flights and part of Directional Aviation, one of the world's biggest private aviation groups. Since we launched in 2008, PrivateFly has always believed in going above and beyond in everything we do. We are an Argus Certified Broker, which guarantees industry best practice and safety.
Find out more: About PrivateFly.