The good news is Europe is opening for American tourists this summer. However, with delays up to six hours arriving and transiting at the hubs of major European airlines and reduced connecting flights, it makes sense to consider chartering a private jet. It’s not cheap, but you are likely to save the better part of a day, maybe more, on each end of your trip.
With long delays for international arrivals and transfers at some European airports, discounted … [+]
While private jet travelers have to go through the same customs and immigration process as everyone else, they usually do it at private terminals, called FBOs. Private jet operators know where there are kinks in the system and will help you avoid those airports for ones that are better organized for long-haul arrivals. If you book with British Airways, you have to go throw London’s Heathrow Airport. If you are flying Air France, you change planes in Paris. If there are problems there, it’s your problem.
Of course, the downside of these long-haul private jet charter flights had always been the cost. If you charter on-demand, industry jargon for trip-by-trip, the operator has to factor in the cost of repositioning flights – flying the airplane back to base after it drops you off. When you are going to Europe, that’s expensive. That cost of the empty flight back across the Atlantic is worked into your price quote.
There are exceptions. VistaJet and Qatar Executive have global floating fleets. That means their aircraft don’t have a base they need to return to after every flight. A plane that flies a client from Zurich to Miami might wait until it gets its next trip, say Atlanta to Buenos Aires. It would then ferry the short flight empty to pick up its next group of paying passengers. It’s far less costly than flying back across the Atlantic Ocean without passengers, so both offer what’s called one-way pricing, taking this into account.
There’s also a growing number of jet card options with one-way pricing to Europe.
On Monday morning, Sentient Jet rolled out one-way tariffs starting at $79,500 between New York and London for a large cabin jet with WiFi. The offer is valid until the end of August and requires a 14-day lead time for booking. You have to be a member of its jet card program, but you don’t have to spend extra money. You can use funds from your existing account. There are prices if you are originating or ending in other U.S. and European cities. Its card program starts at 25 hours and around $150,000.
Air Partner, Executive Jet Management, JetSet Group, NetJets and Private Jet Services all offer one-way transatlantic jet card rates as well. Hourly rates range from $11,000 to $20,000, based on provider and specific aircraft types.
There are also roundtrip discounts. To qualify, you need to average two billable flight hours per day, so if you have 14 flight hours, that means if you can stay in Europe for up to seven days and get savings, which range up to 27%.
If you are trying to justify the price, the minimum number of seats per aircraft each program guarantees varies from 10 to 14. Keep in mind those numbers include club chairs that don’t fully recline or divans designed for up to three passengers. For proper sleeping, cut the seat guarantee in half. Or, even better, schedule your eastbound flight during the day, reducing jet lag. You arrive Europe in the evening, head to your hotel for a good night’s rest.
Once you get there, several providers also have fixed rates for flights within Europe. Air Partner is one of them. Vincent Kavanagh, senior vice president of sales, says the company has seen an uptick in transatlantic charters from new and existing customers. Steve Orfali, CEO of JetSet Group, says his Transcontinental Jet Card has become a “top seller.”
Another benefit of jet cards is service recovery. That’s if the operator cancels your flight, your provider finds a replacement aircraft at no additional cost. With a typical on-demand charter, if there is a price difference to the new quote, you either have to pay or you can get a refund.
With card programs, if you aren’t sure about your plans, you don’t have to book your flights when you buy. You can sign up, pay to join, and then in some cases, book your flights to Europe on as little as 48 hours’ notice. If you need to cancel or change, there is also more flexibility than a regular charter.
Looking for something cheaper? Another option is those empty leg flights. VistaJet and Flyeasy.co list repositioning flights that are updated constantly. With the latter, you sign up for a free account, and then when you spot something of interest, contact the operator directly. While you can score discounts of more than 50%, keep in mind that if the person paying the full freight changes plans, your empty leg can be canceled, even as you are at the airport waiting to board.
I’m Editor-in-Chief of DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly e-newsletter for private jet owners and Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer’s guide comparing over 250 jet card programs from major players like Flexjet, Jet Linx, NetJets, Sentient Jet, Wheels Up, VistaJet, and XO to newcomers like FlyExclusive and boutique brokers. You’ll also find performance profiles of popular private jets, from turboprops King Air 350, Pilatus PC-12 and HondaJet to the Phenom 300, Challenger 300 and 350, Gulfstream G450, G550, G650, G700, Bombardier’s popular Global Express family, the iconic Learjet and S-76 helicopter used by both Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump. There’s a free guide explaining various options and even a guide for first-timers and specifically what you need to know before chartering. And before you fly, find out what’s an FBO. You’ll also find a Deal Book, cataloging M&A activity and launches by key players. I’ve spent my working career in travel and luxury media, for 14 years at Travel Agent magazine, where I began as a reporter, then covered the airline industry as Aviation Editor and ended up rising to Group Publisher. In 2000 I started Elite Traveler, a consumer lifestyle magazine distributed globally aboard private jets, where I was President and Editor-in-Chief until 2014. In 2007, I co-authored of “The Sky’s the Limit: Marketing to the New Jet Set.” In 2014 I wrote “23 Ways to Create More Sales Opportunities 25 Minutes,” and in 2016 I co-authored “Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich.” Verb named me as one of the Top 25 Digital Luxury Experts to follow. For more private aviation and news on jet cards, private aviation memberships, and fractional ownership, visit Private Jet Card Comparisons’ news updates.