Best bets on private jets

October 22, 2016 09:00 AM
Whether you need to take an emergency out-of-town business meeting, travel to an important conference or even take an impromptu trip to your favorite getaway at the last minute, the last thing you should worry about are the vagaries of commercial travel.

Whether you need to take an emergency out-of-town business meeting, travel to an important conference or even take an impromptu trip to your favorite getaway at the last minute, the last thing you should worry about are the vagaries of commercial travel.

That’s why flying by private jet has become such a popular trend. It allows you to fly in style while also cutting down on the time and hassle it takes to fly on a commercial airplane. 

Here’s a look at six airline and private jet companies that emphasize not only the need for speed, but the quality of on-time, first class arrival. Just ask Jay Leno or Kim Kardashian.

Want to fly out like a celebrity? Look no further than private jet company Nicholas Air, which flew out celebrity emcee Jay Leno to San Francisco earlier this year for the “Big Game Big Event” that raises money for charities in the host state of the Super Bowl. Not only does this company fly out celebrities, but it treats you like one too, with a variety of programs to choose from, which include leasing or fractionally owning any of its fleet.

The first program is a jet card that provides clients with 15-90 hours of travel per trip and is on a per-flight basis. Depending on the payment plan and type of jet selected, prices range from $4,410 an hour to $9,598 an hour. 

The second program is a jet lease for 90 to 200 hours of travel with rates locked in for a 12- or 24-month lease term. 

There is another option, the jet share, to buy a share in the company, which incorporates 100 to 300 hours of travel. 

The fourth program, aircraft management, allows you to simply manage your own jet, including 200 or more hours of travel. Clients can choose between five-year or a newer fleet of Pilatus PC-12s, Citation Latitude, Phenom 100 or Phenom 300 jets. Planes are owned by the company. 

“We offer members 50% off for empty leg flights [and] access to exclusive events such as the Grammys and the Super Bowl,” says Bill Powers, spokesperson for Nicholas Air.

Prices for leasing, shares and jet management are available upon request. Based in Columbus, Miss., Nicholas Air serves the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Perhaps you want the appeal of being a “’baller”? Private jet company Sentient Jet is the official private jet partner of three different NBA teams, including the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic. Through this aviation company, clients can purchase private flight time in increments of 25 hours and choose their preferred jet class and size.

Once you’ve picked the jet size and class for the specific aircraft of your choice, the hourly rate is locked in for a 12-month period, with 25-hour rates ranging between $124,825 and $350,325 for this Braintree, Mass.-based company.

Does the name JetSmarter sound familiar? The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company made news this year after a few tweets from celebrity Kim Kardashian raving about the jet company resulted in so many calls that the company’s servers temporarily went down. Self-proclaimed as the “Uber” of private jets, this members-only service has three programs for its members to choose from.

“JetSmarter is the only private travel service company to operate by way of an innovative app technology, which is why it’s so often regarded as the Uber for private jets,” says Sergey Petrossov, founder and CEO of JetSmarter. There’s JetShuttle, which is shared private jet flights where members can search for and book a seat on an already scheduled route. Another program is JetCharter, where members can customize and create their own charter flights. Within this option, they can book an entire jet for themselves. Members can also create their own “jet shuttle” flight, which allows them to purchase individual seats on a flight (between shuttle cities). This flight is then opened up into the JetShuttle section of the app, therefore creating a shared flight that is available for other members.

There’s even JetDeals that includes exclusive one-way flights on private jets where members can book a flight to a new destination city daily. Types of fleets include Challenger 850, Gulfstream IV and Legacy 600/650. A helicopter service is also available for members. JetSmarter flies to more than 170 countries worldwide. Prices for programs are available upon request.

A subsidiary of Delta Airlines, the Cincinnati-based Delta Private Jets has made news as one of its perks for “medallion” customers is an upgrade from their commercial airline flights to private jet flights. Perks such as these are what have built up Delta Private’s reputation with its private jet service, which allows you to choose between leasing and chartering a jet. 

The first operator to introduce a membership card, Delta Private Jets Card locks in rates for up to two years, guarantees the choice of any jet category/size of your preference as well as special discounts and upgrades only for those who are part of the program. Jet cards are offered with an initial purchase of $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000. You can choose between four sizes of jets ranging from light to large; examples of jets include Citation Excel, Hawker 400XP and Gulfstream G200. Prices for on-demand charter are available upon request. 

When you think about private jets, your first thought may not be dancing. However, Wheels Up made headlines in 2015 when it flew out most of the contestants from “Dancing With the Stars” from Los Angeles to New York. For individuals interested in flying with Wheels Up, the company offers two programs: an individual/family package and a corporate package.  The first program is for individuals or families and includes one $17,500 initiation fee and $8,500 in annual dues starting the second year.

The second program is corporate membership with a one-time $29,500 initiation fee and annual dues of $14,500 starting in the second year. Regardless of which package you choose, the New York City-based company requires only a 24-hour notice to book flights. You can choose between the private fleet of Models of King Air 350i and Citation Excel/XLS or the HeliFlite helicopter models Bell 430 or Sikorsky S-76. Chartered jets are also available. Prices are available upon request. 

NetJets is headquartered in Woodbridge, New Jersey and is a subsidiary of aviation company Berkshire Hathaway. A partner of the PGA Tour, you might recognize the jet company for its Citation Latitude mock airplane on the 14th hole of The Barclays during the Barclays Pro Am Tournament this past August. For individuals interested in flying with NetJets, there are three programs you can choose from. 

The first program, Jet Share, allows for fractional jet ownership. Through this program, you buy a share of the company and that equates to 50 hours of travel time for the first share with additional shares in 25-hour increments thereafter. Through this program, you pay a fraction of the price for more ownership than you would if you were to lease the jet. This program is nice for anyone who travels 50 or more hours a week and wants to own an asset. 

The second program, NetJets Lease, allows you to lease the aircraft. You retain all the same benefits as you would with Jet Share without actually owning the asset. 

There’s also the Marquis Jet Card, which allows you to use NetJet jets in 25-hour increments. You prepay for your 25-hour increment and can renew or walk away from your program when you’re done. Prices for each of these programs are available upon request.

About the Author

Caroline Vakil is an intern for Futures Magazine. Caroline currently studies journalism in Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.