Choices. We love them. If we didn’t there would not be so many ice cream flavors. Yet, sometimes choosing can be difficult, especially when you are not up to speed with what questions to ask. Private air charter is a complex industry. How do you select the best option for your high net worth client, the matriarch of the wealthy family, or that corporate group? Grab some ice cream and read on. We’ll have you understanding how to sort through all of the best private jets out there to select the best option in no time.
The Essentials of Finding the Best Private Jets
When starting the process of looking for options of the best private jets to fit your needs, you need to make sure you consider the following two points:
1. Cut Through the Noise
Aviation has always had a certain glamor about it. Multiply this by a factor of one hundred when dealing in the rarified world of the private flyer. Accordingly, brokers and operators alike have become adept at presenting very effective marketing for the services that they offer. You will want to look past the obligatory cool guy standing in front of the aircraft engine, staring pensively through his very pricey sun glasses (imagine the gentleman in the photo to the left in aviators). Knowing begins with asking questions to make sure you or your client ends up with the best private jet option possible.
We discussed this in previous blog posts; it all starts with safety. Let us then stipulate that the broker you are working with is reputable and experienced, the operator that they are recommending has a spotless safety record and a reliable fleet, and both broker and operator are zealously committed to client service. We will also assume that they have at-the-ready, for your review, third-party audit information to ensure that all of the options presented meet the highest industry standards. With those provisos in mind, let’s get you some answers!
How to Narrow Down Your Private Jet Options
1. Is Age Just a Number?
From a passenger comfort perspective, newer aircraft take advantage of technological advancements that improve the passenger experience. They also have had less wear and tear than older aircraft. Some clients simply prefer a newer aircraft. You will want to discuss these preferences with your passengers before making a decision. Aircraft age should not always be the deciding factor, but it should be part of the decision process. Sometimes newer aircraft, not surprisingly, cost more to charter. That may be a worthwhile value choice to some, while for others an older aircraft at a lower price point may work just fine.
2. Wait, What? No lavatory?
Yes – that’s a thing. Some (2-6 passenger aircraft) light jet aircraft are not equipped with a lavatory. Or, the “lavatory” is a seat that flips up and privacy is half-heartedly assured via a small curtain. For shorter flights, the savings realized by choosing this option can be a great decision. Be sure and ask, although an experienced broker will have already discussed the cabin interior with you. Some light jets are equipped with enclosed lavatories, while most if not all mid-sized and large cabin jets feature lavatories. Of course, the airliners that we offer our large air charter groups are all equipped with lavatories. The flight attendants are so proud of them that they’ll point them out to you on each flight.
3. To Stop or Not to Stop?
If your trip is beyond the nonstop range of the aircraft that you have selected, you will have to make a fuel stop. This is usually less than thirty minutes and is a good time for our private jet flyers to get out and stretch their legs. If you are on a tight schedule (or just want to get there without stopping), then an aircraft with longer range is in order. Typically the larger the aircraft, the farther it can fly without refueling. A solid broker will make you aware of any range issues that an aircraft may have. Adverse weather can also necessitate a fuel stop. You will want to be armed with this information in advance.
4. Five Hours and Nothing to do
The private air charter industry always keeps up with the latest technology, and most aircraft offer WiFi and other entertainment/connectivity options. It is important to understand the charges associated with these features. On international trips, WiFi charges can be pricey, depending on which plan the aircraft operator has. For our commercial aircraft charter clients (50-500 passengers), there is tremendous variability between aircraft and air carriers relative to entertainment amenities. You will want to pay close attention to the information that your air charter broker provides concerning onboard entertainment.
5. The Perfect Cabin
Configuration refers to how the seating, bedrooms, boardrooms (no really, some of these amazing birds have bedrooms and boardrooms) are configured inside
of the cabin. Our commercial aircraft clients often want aircraft to have a first class section, while others prefer a more egalitarian approach. Business jet clients might be interested in how many lie flat seats are available. There are almost as many choices as there are reasons to choose one configuration over another.
You will want to discuss with your broker what the passengers’ preferences and needs are. A long international trip may be well-served by first class seating, or at least some additional space for the passengers to relax. Here are some questions to ask your broker:
What is the degree of recline of each seat?
Are lie-flat seats available?
Is the aircraft equipped to provide the meal and beverage service that you have in mind?
How many cabin attendants are there?
How might insisting on a certain configuration affect my price?
Can I save money if I go with that all-economy option?
We love questions even more than you love answers. Be sure to add these questions to your list and next time, ask away!
The Wrap Up
We hope that you leave this blog more informed than when you started. Private charter can be well-managed and seamless if you know what questions to ask, and you choose an air charter broker that works hard for you. Next time (or if it’s the first time) around, you will be armed with more knowledge than ever to choose that best private jet for you or your client.