By Youssef Mouallem
Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, flying private is a relaxing and efficient experience. No security lines, no long waiting, and no baggage check-in. Instead, you will enjoy excellent service from the moment you arrive at the departure area and step into the aircraft until you reach your destination.
Private jet travel used to be solely associated with world leaders and celebrities. However, this is not the case anymore. The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled a boom in private jet travel, which is now a sought-after alternative to a premium ticket on a commercial flight. Chartering a private plane for the first time can be an exciting and also intimidating experience – below are some suggestions you might want to consider.
Types of jets
When you charter a private jet, you will find that you have a choice in aircraft sizes, from small cabins to large cabins. In addition to being more comfortable, large-cabin jets offer more amenities and provide the ultimate experience.
- Light jets: Light jets usually provide a non-stop range between 1,450nm and up to more than 1,971nm and seat 6–7 passengers. They usually include a basic galley area and lavatory, while an in-flight accessible luggage area may or may not be available. These jet types are convenient for short distance travels with a small group or to a meeting.
- Midsize jets: midsize jets are the ideal choice for passengers seeking longer-range travel, additional luggage capacity, and more comfort. Mid-size aircraft are usually designed to carry up to 8 passengers and include an enclosed lavatory with full or partial gallery. The range varies between 1,786nm up to 2,620nm.
- Super Midsize: Super Midsize jets are designed to offer business jet travellers value—a combination of the speed, range and cabin amenities of Heavy jets and the lower operating costs of lighter jets. When chartering your next private flight, consider the advantages of the Super Midsize class such as full standing headroom, luxury spacious cabins, flight attendant and great luggage capacity. These jets seat 9 passengers and usually offer up to 8 hours flying time. The range varies between 3,065nm up to 4,018nm.
- Large Cabin: Large cabin jets are designed to comfortably accommodate at least 8 passengers with substantial baggage space. These types of jets are popular for their durability, speed, range and efficiency. Large cabin aircraft also have the ability to access short and challenging runways commercial jets often cannot land on. Besides this, the large cabin jets come with your own private bedroom. Who wouldn’t enjoy this luxury on a flight?
- Ultra Long-Range: Ultra long-range jets are built for luxurious travel are also the perfect choice if they need to board a long-haul flight like traveling from one continent to another. These larger aircraft can ascend higher than other private jets, with ceilings of 7 ft. This gives ultra-long range jet passengers two major benefits. Firstly, because the plane is capable of flying higher than smaller models, it can avoid a lot of air traffic and more flexibility to fly the route you want, at a time that suits you. Second, these jets often include a flight attendant, bedrooms, lavatories, fine dining and set up to 14 passengers.
Aircraft and Charter Options
Although a private charter means utmost comfort, privacy, and traveling flexibility, you need to choose the right aircraft to ensure you get the experience you expect during your first private flight. To choose the right aircraft for your first private flying experience consider the following:
- The number of passengers that will fly
- Your destination
- The amenities offered
New private jet companies such as XO are changing the private jet narrative. Due to its easy-to-use booking platform, XO is an especially great choice for first-time private jet fliers. Customers have access to a Members’ fleet of over 360 aircraft around the world, as well as over 2,100 safety-vetted alliance jets. Beyond the jet, XO offers exclusive access to luxury travel and lifestyle benefits and invitation-only events that enrich and broaden the journey. If you’re considering flying on a private jet for the first time, there are a few things you should know. As you research your options, get informed by reading our First Time Flyer Guide.
On Demand Charter
On demand charter is the most flexible aircraft access method as it gives you the option to book single flights. As a result, you can tailor specific on-demand charter flights without long term commitments or obligations.
Jet Cards and Memberships
A jet card is a pre-paid membership that allows you to fly on private jets at a fixed rate. Many cards give you the flexibility of switching between jet types or categories.
XO Shared Membership allows Members to book single seats on shared private jet flights across thousands of airports and destinations worldwide with no booking fee. Members can seamlessly book single seats on existing XO shared flights using the XO mobile app or website. Or they can initiate a new shared flight and invite friends or colleagues to join them. Uniquely among private jet services, XO’s mobile app and website offer guaranteed prices and instant booking.
Preparing for your trip
Find the Fixed-Base Operator (FBO)
When a private jet customer comes to the airport, they do not share facilities with airline passengers. Instead, they avoid the crowds and queues and head to an FBO (which stands for Fixed Base Operator) — the private jet terminal at an airport. In many cases this is a purpose-built facility set apart from the main airport buildings and offering a range of services for private jet customers, aircraft and crew. Sometimes the whole airport will be dedicated to business aviation.
Prepare your documents
Flying with a private jet is a completely different experience to flying commercial, and you will enjoy various benefits such as skipping all of the usual check-in and security queues. However, you swill be till required to show your identification and travel documents before take-off.
Although there are weight limits when it comes to luggage, they are much more generous than commercial flights. The easiest way to find out how much you can bring is simply to ask the person responsible for booking the private jet. If every seat is being filled, you may be limited to one or two bags. As usual, avoid carrying any prohibited items like sharp objects, but unlike commercial flights you will be able to bring on liquids. If you are unsure whether your item is prohibited, reach out to your chosen air charter to inquire.
Learn about your private jet aircraft
Make sure to learn about the aircraft’s safety features and how they operate in case of emergencies and ask the crew for clarification and advice.
Unlike commercial airlines where pets would be traveling in the cargo hold, in a private jet they can be in the cabin alongside you. Make sure pets meet the legal requirements of the country they’re flying to. For instance:
- When flying between the UK and EU, pets must have an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by a UK vet within 10 days of departure; or an EU Pet Passport. Pets travelling in either direction must also be micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies, plus dogs must have had a tapeworm treatment.
- Pets travelling to the United States must be at least eight weeks old and fully weaned with a valid health certificate.
- Owners should book a check-up at the vets within 10 days of their flight, to ensure their pet is in good health and get advice on preparing them for the journey.
Don’t be afraid to ask your pilot or flight attendant questions during your flight. Your comfort is their top priority. Some charter flights may even allow you to visit the cockpit and talk to the pilots while at cruising altitude.