Taking a Private Jet Could Be More Affordable Than You Think
As Rachel Raymond from West Orange, N.J., tells it, the day last August when she flew on a private jet ranks as one of the most unreal experiences of her life. Ms. Raymond, and her husband, Daniel, along with their three children, took a flight in a seven-seat jet, a Cessna Citation III, complete with two pilots and a well-stocked bar, from Westchester County Airport, in White Plains, N.Y., to upstate Saratoga Springs. The Raymonds had decided to take an impromptu trip to Lake George because they had found a last-minute deal where they could fly on that route for only $500.
用新泽西州西奥兰治的蕾切尔・雷蒙德(Rachel Raymond)的话说，去年8月她乘坐私人飞机的那天，算得上她人生中最不真实的经历之一。雷蒙德夫人和她的丈夫丹尼尔还有三个孩子一起，从纽约白原市的韦斯特切斯特县机场搭乘一架塞斯纳Citation III型七座喷气式飞机飞到了北部的萨拉托加温泉市，机上配备两名飞行员和酒水充足的吧台。雷蒙德一家决定来一场说走就走的乔治湖之旅，因为他们发现了一个“最后召集”优惠，只需500美元就可以飞这条航线。
“Daniel and I have always fantasized about flying private, but it’s a luxury that we never thought that we would be able to pay for,” Ms. Raymond said.
The charter was a “SuiteDeal” from the private jet company JetSuite. These last-minute deals for one-way private jet charters within the United State cost between $500 and $2,000, and the money the Raymonds paid was comfortably within their budget.
JetSuite is one of several private aviation companies attempting to make private jet flying accessible to travelers who aren’t part of the billionaire or even millionaire set. In many cases, these companies such as Blade and JetSmarter, are able to offer flights at appealing prices because the trips are shared with a small group of other passengers. While this may not be private flying in the vein of having an entire plane to yourself, travelers fly in and out of small, private airports where they usually don’t have to deal with the Transportation Security Administration and can arrive just five to 15 minutes before their departure time.
JetSuite是试图使非亿万富翁、乃至非百万富翁群体负担得起私人飞机的几家私人航空公司之一。在许多情况下，Blade和JetSmarter等航空公司能够提供价格适宜的飞行，因为这些飞行是由几组乘客拼搭起来的。虽然这可能还算不上私人飞行，因为并非独享一架飞机，但旅行者在小型私人机场起飞和降落，通常不必跟运输安全管理局(Transportation Security Administration)打交道，只需在起飞前5至15分钟到达即可。
The Raymond’s $500 trip is a more extreme example of how little flights on private jets can cost, but industry experts say that a trip on one today is less expensive than it ever has been in the past.
Steve Wooster, the managing director of services and air operations for the luxury travel network Virtuoso, said that the proliferation of private jet brands has led to these lower prices. “There are many more suppliers than there ever used to be, and competition means prices have dropped,” he said. “Private jet flying is now open to a diversity of passengers, not just C.E.O.’s.”
According to Virtuoso’s research, the average price for a private jet flight declined 13 percent from 2014 to 2016.
Are these lower prices the reason more Americans are chartering planes? Virtuoso’s statistics indicate that the number of private charter trips increased by 10 percent from 2014 to 2016, and statistics from the research company Euromonitor show that the number of passengers in the United States who chartered planes increased from 4.88 million in 2013 to 5.32 million in 2016 (this number excludes helicopter charters).
JetSmarter, around since 2013, is an example of a player in the private aviation space selling shared flights. The company operates on a membership model: Fliers pay a minimum of $15,000 a year and book seats on already scheduled flights through the JetSmarter app, which lists more than 150 domestic and international trips a day. Trips under three hours are included in the cost of the membership while longer ones are an average of $300 a person, according to Sergey Petrossov, the company’s chief executive officer; most flights have an average of eight to 10 passengers.
Members who want to set their own schedule can create a flight and post it to JetSmarter’s app so that other interested members can buy seats for the route and help reduce the cost of the charter; if all the seats on the plane sell, the member who created the flight flies for free. These crowdsourced trips usually top out at $2,000 a person, a fraction of the $8,000 or more per hour it can cost for a traditional charter. “My goal is to make private jet flying less elitist,” Mr. Petrossov said.
Blade, which doesn’t require membership, also sells flights, but only from December through mid-March and on one route, between Westchester County Airport (with or without a helicopter transfer from Manhattan) and its own terminal in Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. From $1,285 each way, fliers travel on a Bombardier commercial jet retrofitted with 16 seats and receive an array of amenities such as catered meals from Dean & Deluca as well as iPad Pros loaded with first-run movies; they also get accommodations for the weekend at Faena Miami, a luxury beachfront hotel.
不要求会员资格的Blade公司也销售航班，但仅限于从12月到3月中旬，从韦斯特切斯特县机场（有时提供从曼哈顿的直升机接客服务，有时不提供）和该公司位于迈阿密奥帕洛卡机场的航空站之间的这一条航线。单程1285美元，乘客可乘坐庞巴迪(Bombardier)的16座商务机，并享受一系列服务，如来自Dean & Deluca的美食，以及存有首映电影的iPad Pro。周末时，他们还可入住豪华的海滨酒店Faena Miami。
The Miami route made its debut two years ago and has been so popular, said company founder Rob Wiesenthal, that this season, the flights will be offered four days a week, instead of the two days that they previously were.
Paul Cappuccio, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., and is the general counsel for Time Warner, flew to Miami on Blade most weekends last winter and plans to do the same this year. “It’s such a relaxed way to fly, an elegant experience and so hassle-free,” he said. While not necessarily budget-friendly, Mr. Cappuccio said that Blade hits the sweet spot on price. “It’s not all that much more than a full-fare first-class ticket, but a small fraction of what it would cost to fly on a chartered private jet,” he said.
住在康涅狄格州格林威治的保罗・卡普乔(Paul Cappuccio)是时代华纳(Time Warner)的法律总顾问。去年冬天，他大部分周末都会乘坐Blade的航班飞到迈阿密。今年冬天，他计划还这么办。“这种飞行方式很轻松，是一种高雅的体验，没有烦恼，”他说。尽管费用不菲，但卡普乔说，Blade在价格上找到了最佳区间。“比全价的头等舱机票贵不了多少，但只相当于乘坐私人包机费用的一小部分，”他说。
But for travelers who only want their own chartered plane without having to pay an exorbitant price, there are options like JetSuite’s “SuiteDeals.” The company’s primary business is private jet charters for hourly rates of between $4,000 and $7,000 while “SuiteDeals” are sales of flights called empty legs ― routes that jets are scheduled to fly on without any passengers.
Meredith Broder, an adviser with the Villanova, Pa., travel company Avenue Two Travel, said that empty leg flights have changed the private jet game. “Rather than have the plane fly empty, air companies or private jet brokers try to sell that route at a discount,” she said. “This strategy helps with fuel costs and puts private jet flying within reach to people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford this luxury and convenience.”
梅雷迪思・布罗德(Meredith Broder)是宾夕法尼亚州维拉诺瓦市Avenue Two旅行社的一名顾问。她表示，空腿航班改变了私人飞机的游戏规则。“航空公司或私人飞机中介不再让飞机空驶，而是试图以折扣价出售那些航班，”她说。“这种策略有助于降低燃油成本，并让那些通常负担不起这种奢侈和便利的人也能乘坐私人飞机。”
Ms. Broder frequently books private jets for clients and gets a weekly list from several private jet companies of empty leg availability for the coming week (other agents specializing in private jet travel also get similar lists). Recent flights included an $8,500 trip from Naples to Cleveland on a Beechjet 400A, a plane that seats seven people, and a $6,500 trip from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Colorado Springs on a Learjet 45XR, accommodating eight fliers.
布罗德经常为客户预订私人飞机，她有未来一周几家私人飞机公司的空腿航班清单（其他私人飞机旅行中介也有类似的清单）。最近的空腿航班包括8500美元从那不勒斯飞往克利夫兰，机型是六座的Beechjet 400A；以及6500美元从亚利桑那州斯科茨代尔市飞往科罗拉多州斯普林斯市，机型是八座的Learjet 45XR。
Empty legs are inexpensive because fliers usually don’t have a choice in the route, but some travel agents can find favorable rates for customized charters, too.
Ms. Broder booked a jet charter this March from New Jersey to Las Vegas for her client Steven Michaels, an entrepreneur from Cherry Hill, N.J., and seven of his friends. The trip was in celebration of several of the men turning 50, and the group wanted an extravagant getaway. First-class tickets worked out to close to $2,000 a person round trip, while chartering an eight-seat Citation III jet was $3,500 each. When presented with both options, Mr. Michaels said that going private was a no-brainer. “The journey was like paying for a high-end tour or excursion and ended up being one of the most fun parts of the trip,” he said.
布罗德为自己的客户史蒂文・迈克尔斯(Steven Michaels)以及他的七个朋友预订了今年3月从新泽西州飞往拉斯维加斯的包机。迈克尔斯是新泽西州切里希尔市的一名企业家。为了庆祝他们中的几个人50岁大寿，他们想进行一次奢华旅行。头等舱往返机票的价格接近每人2000美元，而租一架八座Citation III包机的价格为人均3500美元。迈克尔斯表示，面对这两种选择，当然要选私人飞机。“这趟旅程就像是为一次高端旅行或短途旅行买单，结果它成了旅行中最有趣的一个部分，”他说。