Private charters are experiencing a Golden Age of sorts.
Every aspect of the private charter experience is different than commercial flying: from quotes and booking to aircraft and airports. Overall, you’ll notice private flights offer a much safer option than commercial.
However, you should keep several things in mind before booking your first private flight.
1. You Can Choose from Countless Smaller Airports for Private Charters
You’ll never have to fly out of that crowded city airport again. Private flights can depart from and arrive in over 5,000 airports across the country, compared to just over 500 for commercial flights. Is there a small city airport near your house? You can request to depart from that one.
2. There Aren’t Any Boarding Passes or Typical Screenings
When you book your flight, you’ll also book a specific aircraft. This will give you a tail number to track and enter your flight rather than a boarding pass.
3. You Need to Factor Your Passengers and Luggage Prior to Booking Private Charters
Unlike commercial flights, some private planes are small. Each aircraft has unique cargo weight and passenger restrictions. It’s best to factor your luggage, fellow travelers, children, and pets into your quote to make sure you pick the best aircraft.
4. You’ll Choose Your Add-Ons Individually
If you want food service, drinks, or Wi-Fi, you’ll have to order these things as you book your flight individually. However, your operator will help you work out the details seamlessly.
5. You’ll Depart from Special Private Terminals
Private charters fly out of their own airport terminals. When you arrive, you might even drive straight up to the plane. Otherwise, you’ll have access to a special terminal with bathrooms and a comfortable lounge away from the crowds.
6. There Might Not Be Any Flight Attendants on Private Charters
Private jets can be small and, especially with COVID-19 best practices, might not have any flight attendants. Check with your operator before booking your flight if you require special accommodations or assistance. Otherwise, plan on having the whole plane to yourself!
7. Check the Aircraft Before Booking If You Need Wi-Fi
Not every aircraft is set up to deliver a Wi-Fi connection. If you’re planning a longer flight or require Wi-Fi to work, make sure you check the plane’s specifications before booking and double-check with the operator that it’s good to go.
8. Arrange Your Destination Ground Transportation Ahead of Time
Flying into a small airport has many advantages but it can pose an issue if you don’t plan your ground transportation in advance. Make sure to book your ride right after booking your flight or ask your operator for recommendations.
9. Not All Private Charters Operate Legally
Many people might not realize that unregulated and illegal charters are a pervasive problem. Some market themselves as “gray charters” but make no mistake: They aren’t FAA certified to carry passengers for compensation.
Booking illegal charters means you’re unintentionally flouting safety measures for plane maintenance and potentially putting yourself at risk for losing a lot of money.
10. Empty Leg Flights Can Save You Big Time Money
Pilots often get stuck flying empty planes back from one-way charters. Bear in mind, you won’t get to pick the aircraft or route, but you might get to pick the time.