How to Book a Private Jet
Flying on a private jet is a luxury form of travel and has the ability to completely transform your flying experience.
Flying on a private jet means travelling in style. It’s time-effective, more comfortable, and grants privacy that public forms of transport simply can’t provide. And especially since the pandemic, avoiding busy airport queues, tightly crammed aircrafts and the usual stress that accompanies flying has proven especially popular.
Contrary to popular belief, the process of booking a private plane for charter is actually quite simple. Although it’s not as easy as going online to buy an airline ticket, the process can be completed via a few emails - or even better, by calling your trusted Jet Broker or Jet Operator.
But first, you need to know you’re committing to the right jet for your needs.
- Finding the right private jet
- Determining the safety level of each flight
- Booking an aircraft and paying for the charter
- What to expect on the day of the flight
- Onboard the aircraft
- After the flight
Finding the right private jet
So long as you ask the right questions, the process of booking a private jet is fairly straightforward. First, you need to find a private jet company at a local airport, and call them up to request a flight quote.
There are two types of private jet companies: operators and brokerages. Operators are the companies that physically maintain and fly the aircraft, while brokerages are merely intermediaries between customers and operators.
If the airport has the private jet on-site, an operator will quote the aircraft - but sometimes the jets will be outside of their usual coverage zone, in which case they will contact other operators to check availability and book off-fleet options.
Brokers, on the other hand, solely rely on outside operators to provide the aircraft and often do not have a direct connection to the aircraft they are working with.
Whether you decide to use an operator or a broker is entirely down to you. Some clients prefer to cut out the middle man, others like the ease and convenience of using a broker. In fact, some operators can also act as a broker for a client if they don’t have a plane available for the requested journey.
For more frequent travellers, prepaying for flights by purchasing a jet card, opting into a membership-based programme, or purchasing fractional ownership in an aircraft can be beneficial in the long run. Those spending more than $500,000 per year on flights should consider purchasing their own jet, as it will probably save money in the long term.
For occasional flyers, on-demand charter provides all the perks of flying privately without a long-term investment - you have the luxury, the exclusivity and the experience, without the responsibility.
After calling an operator or brokerage, you can expect to be asked the following questions from the charter representative:
- Where do you want to go?
- Where would you like to depart and return?
- How many passengers will there be?
- What size aircraft are you looking for?
- How much luggage will you have?
- What is your budget?
Whilst some of these may seem pretty basic, they will be key in ensuring the correct aircraft is chosen, as private jets are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Often, the cheapest and smallest option isn’t always the best for your needs.
The number of passengers may automatically determine the minimum required size of an aircraft. For example, when flying with nine people, a super mid-size aircraft will likely be required, while a group of only two people can fit easily into a turboprop or light jet.
Luggage is also a determining factor in the size of the aircraft, as certain oversized items like golf clubs, skis, and large suitcases can't fit in every private jet. Unlike airliners, not all private aircrafts have baggage holds and they may require luggage to be stored onboard the jet.
But if excessive luggage and large numbers of passengers aren’t an issue, then the size of the aircraft may not factor into your decision. That said, some clients favour the comfort of larger jets, especially on long-distance or overnight flights.
Giving a budget upfront will allow the charter representative to provide the best-suited options for your requirements, so make sure you’re as specific as possible to avoid disappointment.
DETERMINING THE SAFETY LEVEL OF EACH FLIGHT
Not all aircrafts are operated at the same levels of safety, as each operator has different standards for their pilots. To ensure a high-quality, safe aircraft and crew, we recommend that clients ask for the safety ratings of the aircraft, crew, and operator that they're flying on.
Safety ratings in private aviation are determined by two main companies: Argus and Wyvern. Having a rating from these companies means that a safety audit has been performed and that flight crews must meet particular criteria to fly under certain safety ratings.
At the very least, clients should be requesting two pilots for their flights that meet either Argus or Wyvern status.
In a post-pandemic world, you also need to know that the aircraft is sanitised and that the operators are taking certain precautions to ensure a Covid-free flight.
BOOKING AN AIRCRAFT AND PAYING FOR THE CHARTER
Once you’ve shared the necessary information about the trip and requested safety ratings, the charter representative will provide you with the aircraft options. These will include the type of aircraft, the amenities offered (such as Wi-Fi, television etc), and the final price. It’s then up to you to choose whichever option that best suits your needs.
Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll then be sent a contract to fill out, agreeing to the terms and conditions of the flight, as well as any cancellation or change policies imposed by the company. This can often be done over e-signing software such as DocuSign. Once this is signed, the flight is locked in, and you’ll then need to make the necessary payments before the day of departure.
Generally, payment is done via wire transfer, but can also be done via a credit card or check. The method of payment will usually depend on what the company is most comfortable with, especially when working with new clients. Whilst putting a $25,000 charter on a credit card will of course net some serious cashback or points, a charge can be disputed, causing a headache for the company further down the line.
If any optional extras are requested, including catering or ground transportation, these will be put on the final bill.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF THE FLIGHT
Once the trip is booked and an aircraft is assigned, the charter sales representative or broker will provide you with an itinerary or trip sheet. The itinerary lists three important details: the tail number of the aircraft, the departure facility, and the departure time.
The tail number is used to identify which aircraft a charter group will be flying on. Unlike the airlines, private flights don't typically go by a flight number, so the tail number is the primary method of identification.
The departure facility will often be a private terminal at an airport known as a Fixed Base Operator or FBO. Unlike commercial terminals, FBOs are typically small and act as a waiting room with lounges, chairs, bathrooms, and often additional fun amenities, including a popcorn machine or golf simulator in the more high-end locations.
Departing from an FBO has its advantages, including that passengers can drive right up to the aircraft and have their car valeted. If arriving early, the facilities also typically offer free parking, with only a short walk to the plane.
Once inside, you and your passengers will have to provide the tail number to the front desk representative, who will then connect you with the pilots or flight crew. A line service technician will then take any luggage directly to the plane - it’s important to note that they will often expect a tip for this service, although it’s not required.
After an identification check and quick pre-flight briefing, it's off to the races.
ONBOARD THE AIRCRAFT
The onboard experience largely depends on the type of aircraft, the optional extras ordered ahead of time, and if a cabin attendant is on board. Most aircrafts will offer a complimentary self-serve offering of snacks and drinks - from soft drinks to alcoholic beverages.
If catering was ordered ahead of time, it will be displayed in the aircraft's galley for you to indulge in. And if a cabin attendant is on board, all food and drinks will be served directly to you and your passengers.
In terms of the entertainment provided, this will vary depending on the aircraft. Larger planes will typically feature DVD and audio systems to help pass the time, and most jets will have available WiFi - but if this is particularly important to you, it’s a good idea to stress that to your charter representative so they can ensure they provide you with the appropriate aircraft.
AFTER THE FLIGHT
If you and your passengers have pre-booked transportation, the arrival FBO can typically arrange for it to be waiting plane-side, which is one of the benefits of private travel. An alternative, however, that some clients prefer would be to call an Uber, which will be just as convenient and usually cheaper than private transport.
To avoid incurring additional charges, make sure you leave the aircraft in a suitable state, as companies may charge extra if professional cleaning is required after the journey.
If you are using the same plane for the return flight, the flight crew may offer to give their personal information such as a phone number so that you can contact them directly if needed. Whilst most interactions will be held through the charter representative, having the pilot’s phone number can be useful if you and your passengers are running late or early.
Transform the way you travel
At Ocean Independence, it’s our mission to ensure you get the luxury that you deserve. Whether for solo business trips or group events - we can help you find, select and secure the jet you need for the perfect flying experience.
If you’d like to find out more about chartering a private jet for your upcoming travels, please contact us today.