When President-Elect Joseph Biden headed to Washington D.C. yesterday on the eve of his inauguration, he didn’t take Amtrak, his preferred way of getting to the nation’s capital, and he wasn’t on a government provided aircraft. According to various reports, the train was nixed due to security concerns, and the latter wasn’t offered by the outgoing Trump administration. It meant that Biden had to charter a private jet, and if you want to touch a piece of history, you can charter that exact same aircraft.
Tail number N834BZ is one of two Boeing Business Jets managed by Jet Edge, both of which you can rent. In fact, it was recently promoted as a travel option in a $250,000 package from Montage Los Cabos.
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, MD – JANUARY 19: President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden step off their … [+]
A Boeing 737 converted into a VIP format, the BBJ that carried the Bidens would normally be able to seat around 150 passengers. In its luxury layout, its payload is limited to just 16 guests.
There are several seating areas, including a forward lounge with two couches and a set of club seats. According to FlightRadar24, the flight time from Wilmington, Delaware to Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs, Maryland, took just 28 minutes, a fraction of its 14-hour nonstop flying range.
For longer trips, there is a conference or dining table that can seat up to nine. There’s a private bedroom with an ensuite shower, a private office, and a second shower between the office and the forward passenger area.
According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration and other sources, the aircraft was manufactured in 1999. For a while, it was part of a fleet of BBJs operated by NetJets, serving as the setting for a famous ad from the fractional share seller featuring parent company boss Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. The aircraft has just under 9,000 flight hours, so an average of about 450 per year, or a bit over an hour per day, a fraction of the typical workload for Boeing 737s in airline fleets.
Flight Radar shows the jet that would carry the 46th president flew from Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles to Wilmington on Jan. 18. After dropping off the Bidens at Andrews, it then ferried to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia.
Greg Raiff, the CEO of Private Jet Services Group, which specializes in sports teams and live entertainment tour charters, recently told me there had been a spike in demand for VIP airliners.
He says the bump is being pushed by extended families and friends in larger travel pods that are too big for typical large-cabin private jets from Gulfstream and Bombardier. In some cases, he says, it’s the luggage. UHNW families are relocating to second homes and even rental villas in Mexico and the Caribbean for several months, instead of weeks, working and schooling remotely because of COVID-19.
While Biden’s flight was brief, if you are interested, rest assured there is complimentary domestic Wi-Fi, plus international wireless data. Charter costs for BBJs typically run from around $12,000 to $20,000 per hour.
However, you also have to pay for the positioning flights before and after you are dropped off. If you are thinking about making a short trip, you may have to think again. Typically, these aircraft are reserved for longer flights as each takeoff and landing brings the aircraft closer to expensive maintenance cycles. Of course, there are always exceptions.
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.