The private jet market is pretty limited
Although there are thousands of jets registered in the US, only a fraction of them are available for ad hoc charter flights. Even fewer are commercially operated and a select group of those hold Gold or Platinum Safety ratings, which are among the highest independently rated safety standards. So, as you can imagine, the market can be very limited, especially during peak travel periods or surrounding certain events. Demand for private travel remains at an 'unprecedented' level, making it even harder to secure that last minute flight.
If shopping for a private jet on your own, you may find that multiple companies you connect with have no availability for your travel dates. That's where using a broker can be beneficial. We can source from hundreds of operators all over the country for availability. Even if you have an option in hand, we may be able to offer a comparable jet at a better price, or offer an aircraft that is better suited for your needs and travel preferences.
Availability can change at a moment's notice...or less
Some of the aircraft you may have quotes for are privately owned but managed by an operator. If you have heard the term "Owners Approval Required", that means exactly what it sounds like. The owner of the jet must provide their approval before it can be contracted. While this is typically not an issue, there is always a risk that the owner could say no. Reasons for this could include:
Low profit margins based on the flight hours
They intend to use the aircraft on those dates themselves, or are at least wanting to keep their options open
They just didn't feel like it, or did not respond in time
Sometimes, operators will quote a trip with the assumption that their aircraft will be done with maintenance on time, and as luck would always have it, it never gets finished in time. Furthermore, some operators will not request owners approval until they have a signed client agreement. In these cases, you may sign a contract for a flight and assumed everything was good, but then the owner declines (or changes their mind, which they will likely have language in their agreement giving them this ability to do so), and now you are back at square one. Only now you have substantially less time to find an alternate solution and your other choices are now gone.
Adding another layer of challenge with successfully coordinating a last minute flight, a carrier will not hold availability without a signed contract and deposit in place. So, you may have every intention of signing and paying that afternoon, but if someone else comes and requests the same aircraft for the same dates and signs and deposits that morning, you are out of a plane.
Long story short, just because you have a quote, it does not mean that the aircraft is necessarily available.
Be ready to sign and deposit immediately.
In the event of a last-minute private jet booking, the best thing you can do is to be ready to make a quick decision, sign and pay so that you can lock in that rate and secure the aircraft before the aircraft is gone. If your flight is same day the next day, you likely will not have hours to spare for internal approvals, funding, or to wait it out for a 'better option'. Without payment and a contract in place, the carrier is free to book with another party, putting your trip at risk.
If you need to obtain internal approvals for funding for the flight, we recommend obtaining these for up to a certain amount in the early planning stages (we can offer quick estimates to assist). If you wait until you have quotes in hand to get funding approvals, by the time you get the thumbs up, there is a good chance that these options are already gone in todays fast pace environment.
Master agreements can also be beneficial in saving time in these high-stress scenarios. A master agreement allows you to pre-negotiate contract terms, setting certain aircraft insurance or safety requirements and most importantly, expedite the booking process. Your legal team has already reviewed the core terms, eliminating a critical bottleneck in the booking process. Now, when the time comes to book the flight, all that is needed is the trip specific details for your trip. Ask us about a master contract!
Beggars can't be choosers...unless you want to pay more than you need to
If you are looking for a specific type of aircraft, such as a certain make and model, you may be out of luck with local operators and could end up paying exorbitant amounts if the aircraft needs to reposition from another state or across the country. This added repositioning could increase the total price by almost double depending on where the aircraft is coming from. Our advice: be flexible. If you need a heavy jet, but had your heart set on a Gulfstream GV, consider a G450 or a Global Express. There may be one closer to your intended travel route and could save you money rather than being fixated on one specific aircraft type.
Booking a last-minute flight can be challenging, but we live for the challenge. It can be tough to scour the market to find available options, but that's where a broker can help. We consolidate all the available options and present them to you, so you can focus on other pressing matters.