As you shuffle along behind people cramming 100-pound roller bags into overhead bins, sit next to a guy who thinks pickled herring is an appropriate airline snack, and bruise your knees when the person in front of you reclines the seat, you think:
“I’ve had it! I need to start flying private. It doesn’t cost that much, does it?”
Actually, yes. Yes it does cost that much.
There’s a reason every rap song written since 2010 has a line about private jets: You need some serious cheese to fly in one. Prices to rent your own jet vary depending on the service, flight time, and plane. On average, a light private jet, like a CJ3 or Lear Jet 45 with no flight attendants or head room, run about $5,500 an hour. So a three hour flight from New York to Miami, for example, will run nearly $17,000 one way. That’s 30 times the price of a round-trip first class ticket.
Now, if you want to live like the guys you see in music videos, that’ll cost even more. Heavy jets–like the Gulfstream G4 and Challenger 850 with stand-up cabins and flight attendants, run $12,000 to $17,000 an hour. That’s more than $35,000 for that New York to Miami flight.
Much of this is due to positioning cost, where you pay for the plane to fly wherever you are, and pick you up, then sometimes for it to fly home without you.
“Depending on the provider, you actually end up spending 30-35 percent more than the cost of your flight time. Sometimes you pay double,” says Sergey Petrossov, CEO of JetSmarter, a sort of private jet sharing service. “A light jet should cost about $3,000 an hour, but if you’re chartering from a market where there’s not a jet, you get charged $5,200 for positioning.”
Keep in mind you don’t need to rent your own jet to fly private. In the new sharing economy, even private jets can be communal experiences. Petrossov’s JetSmarter sells annual memberships where members can join existing private flights and split the cost among those onboard. Going back to our New York to Miami example, members wanting to fly that route can search private flights between those cities on their date of travel, and join up for far less than renting their own plane. A quick search found seats for as little as $2,500, one way, still five times the cost of first class. But can you really put a price on never having to hear the phrase, “Sorry, you’ve been randomly selected?”
So while your fantasy of flying private might not be financially feasible, at least now you know how much money you’ll need to make it happen. And maybe those bruised knees will serve as motivation to earn it.
Condé Nast Traveler does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published by Condé Nast Traveler is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.