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Flying Private vs Commercial: Advantages and Disadvantages of Each
Choosing to fly private versus commercial is typically an option that needs heavy consideration. If you have the disposable money to make the choice, it’s worth weighing your options.
Whether traveling for business or pleasure, chartered private jets allow passengers to minimize time to destination and maximize effectiveness. If you’re looking for a way to cut the number of hours spent waiting in lines and taxiing at runways, flying private offers solutions and much more.
Conversely, flying first class or business class on a commercial airliner has its own set of luxurious perks as well. This can be advantageous, even with the need to deal with airport security lines and some of the additional discomforts that are common with standard commercial flight.
What factors exist to determine whether it is a more viable option to fly first/business class, or to charter a private jet flight? We dive into travel costs, available amenities and other perks present for each.
RESULT: Depends on the travel distance
If you are unable to afford the costs that typically loom with the idea of flying private, then it should be no question to choose either first class or business class travel on a commercial airliner. It should go without saying that private jet seats are far more expensive than the standard first class or business class seat.
But just how much more expensive is it?
Solid first-class tickets on short-hop flights in the United States on major airliners (take a very popular private travel route like Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back) can be anywhere from $700 to $1,200.
The exact same trip on a private jet will vary based on the size of the plane flown on, and will usually be on a per-hour basis. The structure for pricing to start is reflected as such:
- Light Jets: $5,500 per hour to start
- Midsize Jets: $6,200 per hour to start
- Supermid size Jets: $12,000 per hour to start
- Large Jets: $15,000 per hour to start
Yeah, there is no question that those numbers are quite large. However, there is a lot more to the story of price than meets the eye. With commercial aircraft, your seat is rented for a short timeframe. You get that one seat and that’s all. Want to travel with more than one person? If so, the cost multiplies with each time.
Looking to bring another seven people with you on a trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? That’s about a one hour trip, and will cost you close to $10,000 to fly first class commercially.
In comparison, with chartering private jets, you rent the entire plane. It doesn’t matter if you’re flying solo or if you’ve got other people with you, the cost remains the same on a per hour basis. For a group of seven people on a short jaunt like the above, the price difference shrinks. In some cases, with larger groups chartering smaller private jets, it can be more cost effective in the long run.
However, there are situations where it will almost always be far more cost effective to make the first class choice over flying private, and that is when flying overseas on longer, intercontinental flights.
Longer trips will require larger and far more expensive planes with longer ranges on fuel tanks. This works out that commercial flights will be far cheaper in every aspect, unless you were able to charter a fair group on a large private plane utilizing an empty-leg.
RESULT: Private jet travel wins
Amenities are one of the major advantages for private jet travel over the lush but still spartan commercial jet first class experience. On almost every private jet chartering experience, you are going to receive the Very Important Person experience. Even on the shortest of flights, this will typically involve well-plated foods, multi-course meals, sandwiches, pastries and more. Free drinks, champagne and alcoholic beverages are almost always available amenities. Yes, you may be thinking “this is the case in many first class cabins as well.”
On private jets, things go far and beyond what you’d experience in first class or business class cabins on commercial airliners. Due to the customizable and “bespoke” nature of chartering a private jet, you and your group can typically place a request for any type of amenity to be made available on your flight.
This includes a vast array of catering options for clients at many private airline charters. Most private jets come equipped with the crew and gear needed to accommodate just about any request. Need a birthday cake prepared and cut? They’ve got it covered. Have a specific brand of champagne you prefer? They’ll find it and ensure it’s chilled and ready to go before you taxi down the runway. Private jet charters will go to incredible lengths to ensure the needs of their passengers are met and exceeded.
True flight in first class on commercial airliners come with incredible amenities. However, these are typically not at the personalization and level of luxuriousness that you’d find when flying privately.
ADDITIONAL PERKS OF FLYING PRIVATE
To most average people, it can be easy to picture flight in private jets as the epitome of “excess”. For many, this carries the same lavish symbolism as riding around in a Rolls Royce, or partying on a massive yacht. However, what makes private jet flight more economical than many realist is the value of a person’s time.
Commercial airliners will only have access to larger airports. If a traveler is flying to attend meetings that may be far from the nearest city or large airport location, some significant driving time is going to need to be tacked on to the total travel time. Alternatively, a private jet can be utilized to fly into a closer, smaller airport. Often times, this gets customers in this situation to their meeting faster and far more efficiently than commercial alternatives, plus the time needed to drive.
Additionally, private flyers have no need to stand in long, stifling security lines common at larger airports. Having to do so is extremely time consuming and almost every time it is needed, even with such services as TSA Pre-Check for travelers in and out of the United States.
As companies who own and operate private jet chartering services aren’t looking to fly their jets out without passengers present, often times they are more than willing to wait on their customers if they happen to be flying back in the same day. The courtesy provided with this avoids the need to schedule meetings around haphazard and sporadic schedules common with commercial flights. We all know how often flights are cancelled and delayed as well.
Additionally, executives can conduct meetings and get work done far more easily on private jets than commercial flights, so time in the air goes unwasted. Also in play is the factor of reliability. Missing a crucial meeting because your flight got delayed due to unforeseen circumstances is something that some can’t afford to risk.
Finally, many private planes will allow their passengers to bring pets, larger items, musical instruments, and anything else you could imagine that would otherwise either not be able to fly commercially, potentially get damaged, or come with a need to pay hundreds of dollars for transport. Flying private also negates the risk that goes along with commercial cargo, where checked baggage being lost is a commonplace.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
It is highly likely that many who charter flights do so simply because they would like to avoid the hassles that come along with flying commercial or need to do so out of necessity. For these people, money is typically not an issue. However, it is unwise to assume that flying private is something that only the ultra-wealthy can afford.
While traveling on a private jet is surely a lavish expense, when multiple people are flying, and the value of time is taken into account, the cost may not be as outrageous as you would think. In reality, in comparison to increasing first class commercial ticket costs, there are plenty of times where it would be more valuable to fly private than to fly commercial.