The dream for many air travelers is to fly private jets and skip the general terminal.
With no security lines to pass through and a plane all to yourself, what's not to like?
Depending on your travel budget, maybe you can charter a private jet for your next trip.
Flying on a private jet can actually be more affordable than you think.
If you fly at least 150 hours a year, private jets can actually be a better deal than flying commercial in some cases.
How Much Does it Cost To Charter a Private Jet?
It's safe to say most people don't have $1.4 million to $20 million sitting in the bank to buy their own personal jet.
On top of the initial purchase you need to pay the crew, buy fuel, and perform routine maintenance.
A single blown tire can cost in excess of $2,000 to replace. Owning a private jet is very expensive.
The most affordable way for most people who fly private jets is to charter a flight. You will typically pay per hour when you charter a flight.
How much you pay depends on a few factors:
- Length of flight
- Size of plane
- Number of passengers
- Commuter Jet or Jet Club membership
- Revenue flight or "empty leg" flight
You might be able to save some money by joining a private jet club. Basic memberships usually start at $1,000 per month plus your charter fees. Unlimited use memberships can cost as much as $10,000 per month.
Fly Private Jets for $129: JetSuiteX
There are several ways you can fly private jets across the United States. Although it can easily cost $1,000 an hour to charter an entire jet, it's possible to fly for as low as $129.
These discount flights are sometimes called "private shuttles." If you see that phrase, it means you can usually climb aboard a smaller commuter jet from a regional airport and skip the commercial air hoopla.
These jets are larger and carry more people on them.
Flying JetSuiteX from Burbank, CA to Las Vegas only costs $129 one-way for a 65-minute flight. In comparison, a one-way ticket with Spirit Airlines costs $52 and United Airlines costs $65. These prices are before you check a suitcase and from LAX instead of Burbank.
Is it worth the extra $50 to fly a private jet for a one hour flight? That's up to you to decide. Regardless of what you choose, it is an extremely affordable way to say you flew on a private jet.
Earn JetBlue Points for JetSuiteX Flights
Although you can't redeem TrueBlue points for JetSuiteX flights, you will earn TrueBlue points for every JetSuiteX flight you book.
You can redeem these points for your commercial JetBlue flights.
Don't forget that JetBlue is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner.
You can transfer points to round up your account balance when necessary.
Delta Private Jets
Delta Airlines also offers their own private jet service called Delta Private Jets.
Occasional travelers can purchase the Sky Access card, which offers fixed hourly rates and empty leg access.
It costs $8,500 your first year, then $6,000 each consecutive year.
Frequent private jet flyers will benefit more from the Delta Private Jets Card. It starts at $100,000 but includes the following benefits:
- Delta Diamond Medallion Status
- Minimum 10-hours
- Unique experiences
- No initial or ongoing annual dues
Look For Empty Leg Flights
If you want the charter jet experience at a discount, look for empty leg flights.
When a private jet needs to fly to another airport to be available for the next planned route, you can grab a seat at a discount.
These flights can be 30% to 75% less than the regular charter price.
However, these flights can still be pricey. For example, a flight on a midsize Hawker 850XP from Florida to Missouri can still cost $12,600. The same commercial flight costs less than $200.
Buy a Jet Card if You Fly 50 Hours or Less
One of the largest private jet networks is NetJets with a fleet of 700 various-sized jets.
NetJets offers three different membership programs:
- Jet Card
- NetJets Lease
- NetJets Share
Their Jet Card program is the most affordable and ideal for flyers that plan on flying less than 25 or 50 hours a year.
Because you're getting a more exclusive and personalized service, NetJets will likely be more expensive than the regional private shuttles like JetSuiteX or Tradewind Aviation.
For 25 hours of flight, a jet card can cost:
- Light Jets: $120,000 to $150,000
- Mid Jets: $170,000 to $200,000
- Heavy Jets: $275,000 to $375,000
Jet cards cover most of the private jet fees. However, you will likely pay a fuel surcharge and any federal excise taxes.
Some Jet Cards Charge By The Mile
Some private jet companies charge you by the mile instead of by the hour. Airstream Jets offers a distance-based card that charges between $8 and $23 per mile, depending on the jet size and distance.
It's something to keep in mind. Not every jet card is the same.
Own Fractional Shares of a Jet
If you fly at least 50 hours a year, you might be financially better off buying fractional shares of a jet.
You will pay the following fees:
- Initial purchase cost
- Monthly management fee
- Hours of flight time
This is the most expensive option, and you will need to have at least $20 million net worth to own your own jet.
Though, you might be able to recoup some of your ownership costs by leasing your jet.
For most people, Jet Cards and one-time charters are going to be the most cost-effective option.
Summary on Private Jet Costs
You don't have to be a millionaire to fly a private shuttle in lieu of commercial commuter flights.
However, you will need to have serious money behind your name if you want to buy a jet card or have fractional ownership to fly on a regular basis.