Whether you’re looking for a couple’s getaway, or taking a mid-winter break, February is the month to plan travels worth sharing. If you’ve never experienced the romance of train travel, climb onboard the Belmond Royal Scotsman. We also invite you to explore the latest in cruising, which has hit new heights of luxury and excitement.
Erika Reategui and Fernando Gonzalez
You don’t have to be a millionaire to fly private. More and more jet services are launching, offering prepaid cards and last-minute deals similar to hotels with unused inventory. Does more competition mean better value for our clients? We talked to our F1S experts to find out.
There are five basic models for flying private:
Ownership – You can buy a plane outright but it’s expensive, for sure. With the cost of fuel, crew, insurance, and maintenance, it is definitely a luxury item. Chartering it out through a charter company can help offset those costs.
Fractional Ownership – Own a percentage of a private jet. This shared ownership allows for more flexibility and less capital expenditure. However, you need to fly about 50 hours a year to make it a worthwhile option financially. It also requires a longer commitment, typically 5 years. Popular companies include NetJets, FlexJet, and Wheels Up.
Membership Companies – This country club-like model charges members a flat initiation fee followed by annual dues. In return, companies like Wheels Up offers members guaranteed access to a jet in the fleet. Look for built-in premium perks such as VIP access to sporting and special events. Memberships are typically for two seats, allowing the traveler the flexibility of being accompanied by a business associate or partner in luxury.
Jet Card Programs – This prepaid card allows you a certain number of hours of flight time on different planes. The model, which may require a nominal membership fee, has gained popularity since the early 2000s because of its ease and cost-effectiveness. If you plan to fly 25-50 hours per year, it makes sense to explore companies like Marquis, who helped pioneer the concept. At PJS Group, you can fly 365 days a year with 10 hours’ notice. Jet cards are usually valid for one year and are popular for one-way flights.
Charters – There are 2,500 air charter companies in the US offering private air travel for business or fun. It’s important to work with a reputable owner or broker. If you don’t mind sitting with strangers, companies like Tradewind Aviation, which specializes in the Northeast and Caribbean, offer passengers shared charters to popular island destinations like ritzy St. Barth’s and Anguilla.
More factors to consider:
• Safety is key. Don’t be afraid to ask about pilot training. And always ask if there are two pilots aboard or one. Regulations vary for private planes.
• Fees vary. It’s important to know about daily minimums and other fees before booking. Get a few quotes as prices can vary widely, including different airport fees.
• Know your plane. While you’ll get quoted the kind of the plane you’ll be flying, a photo will help you identify the model year.