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Silver private jet flying over the mountains.

Private jet charter makes last-minute flights around the world possible


Close to 2.6 million passengers fly in and out of U.S. airports every day, according to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). You’d think most passengers make travel arrangements at least a few weeks in advance, but this isn’t the case. A report by global travel market research company, PhocusWright, shows that just 19% of travel bookings are made well ahead of time. More than half are made within one week of travel, while 38% are booked a day or two before a trip. It’s clear customers expect travel to be quick, convenient, and comfortable when the need arises.

Private jet charter is filling this need, making air travel more accessible and affordable than ever before. As a service that ticks all the boxes for last-minute travel, no other transportation is as flexible and convenient as a chartered flight.

Stats for private jet charter show how it’s an increasingly popular way to fulfill last-minute travel arrangements. Research by the Avinode Group shows that demand for private air charter to all leading North American destinations has grown between August 2017 and August 2018. In this blog, we take a look at why we’re traveling more often at the last minute, and how last-minute charter flights can work for your pocket and your schedule.

So what’s the rush?

Most last-minute travel happens for the reasons you’d expect. A business crisis that needs to be averted, a deal made at short notice, or a handful of factories visited in the space of a week or two. Leisure and personal reasons usually include weddings, births, competitive league sports, family reunions, an unfortunate death, or a discounted weekend break. Slightly more surprising are last-minute flights to haunted houses or a rush to get to the latest UFO sighting. Getting to the location of a favorite celebrity’s next appearance is another reason some people fly in a hurry.

According to global trend watcher, Skrift, there is still a high demand from business to fly at the last minute, but leisure travel now accounts for 56% of last-minute bookings in the U.S. compared to Europe where 73% of last-minute travel is business-related and just 27% leisure.

The U.S. trend towards last-minute leisure travel could be attributed to a culture of aviation transportation in America that is cheaper, more accessible and readily available than in many other countries. Another reason is the growing need to take a break from our busy, stressful lives. Skrift’s annual travel industry trends forecast 2019 has turned up some interesting trends, like a large increase in wellness tourism. This is when people travel to take part in activities that promote health and well-being, so anything from rock climbing to visiting an organic farm. The Global Wellness Institute estimates that this type of tourism has developed into a $639 billion market – a rising figure that shows no sign of slowing down.

So what does this have to do with renting a private plane? Jet charter flights have far more reach than commercial airlines. Here are the facts.

5 Ways private jet charter makes last-minute flights around the world possible

A business team leaving a private jet
A business team leaving a private jet

It used to be easy to buy a cheap plane ticket just days or even hours before departure time. Now the price of a flight is at its lowest on the day it’s released and begins to climb as the day of the flight gets nearer. The thing is, life happens and schedules are unpredictable. But just because you have to purchase a ticket at the last minute, doesn’t mean you have to pay sky-high prices for your seat. There are instances when buying a seat at the last minute is actually cheaper than booking months ahead. This is what you need to know before grabbing that last-minute ticket.

Empty legs

Interior of a private jet.
Interior of a private jet.

This may sound like something horrible you’d pick up on a long-haul flight, but empty legs are a great way to save on private air charter. It’s an aviation term for a private jet that flies without passengers. This happens when passengers are dropped off at their destination and the plane returns to its home base empty, or when it must fly empty to pick up passengers at another airport.

Since every empty seat equals a loss of revenue for air charter operators, empty leg specials can be an inexpensive way to charter a private plane at the last minute. This strategy helps with fuel costs and puts private jet rental within reach of people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford this luxury and convenience. It’s deals like these that are making private flight possible, not just for corporate CEOs but also for families and individuals who thought jet travel was out of their reach. In fact, according to the luxury travel network, Virtuoso, private jet charter is opening up to a diversity of passengers with the average price for a private flight decreasing by 13% between 2014 and 2016. Empty leg specials can shave up to 75% off the cost of a regular charter for last-minute trips. But you could save even more if you book for a group. On an empty leg, you will be charged for the full flight if you’re the only passenger on board. If the jet can accommodate 12 people, for instance, the price of the discounted flight will be divided 12 ways for a group of 12 people, making cheap last-minute flights a reality.

A number of private jet charter operators have followed the lead of hotels and hotel websites by offering last-minute deals and empty legs on private flights. You can either subscribe to an email or app alert, sign-up for a newsletter, or speak to an empty legs specialist about your preferred routes and the dates you’re most likely to travel.

The F.A.P. flying experience

F is for Fast. If you need to book a last-minute flight, private jet charter can have you in the air just four hours after booking and payment have been finalized. For last-minute international flights, certain government issued permits may be needed so keep in mind that depending on the type of permit required, it may take just two hours to issue or as many as 30 days.

A is for Agile. An especially attractive aspect of private jet travel is the scheduling flexibility it allows you. According to a General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) report, 52% of passengers using private jet travel said that the flights they took allowed them to keep business schedules that could not be met efficiently using scheduled airlines, or other types of transportation.

P is for Personalized. Renting a private plane means that many of the frustrating issues around commercial air travel no longer apply. This means easy airport parking and check-in, no long security lines or TSA pat downs. You won’t have the liquids in your toiletry bag confiscated and if you’re a bit late, a private plane will wait for you. And you haven’t even boarded yet.

Unmatched accessibility no matter where you’re going

Private jet travel gives passengers access to more than 5,000 airports – 10 times the number of U.S. airports served by commercial airlines. In fact, the GAMA/NBAA report noted that private aviation pilots said, on average, more than 42% of their destinations were airports with infrequent or no scheduled airline service, and 31% of the flights they conducted in the last year were to destinations that have never had any commercial air service. The same report found that private pilots stopped in more than one place on 42% of their trips. When traveling to multiple destinations locally or overseas, being able to avoid stopovers, connecting flights, and a race from one terminal to the other, can save many hours – if not days – of travel.

For charities around the world, private jet charter is a lifeline to communities when natural disasters ground commercial airlines. Private aircraft can get humanitarian aid and medicines, or critical personnel, into hard-to-reach places. It’s estimated that around 15,000 humanitarian missions are flown each year.

And back to the growing trend of wellness tourism. According to the Global Wellness Institute, travelers from around the world made 830 million wellness trips in 2017 and predictions are that the number could reach one billion in 2019. It’s expected that wellness travel will draw people away from the cities to less-touristy locations. Many of these retreats and nature experiences cannot be easily reached from commercial airports. The trend is likely to see an increasing demand for light jets and chartered helicopters that can easily access these remote places and set tourists down at nearby private airports or airfields.

Already the tourism industry is tapping into the fact that more than 60% of U.S. travelers would consider an impulse trip based on a good hotel or flight deal, according to a Google/Phocuswright survey.

Well-rested and ready for business or adventure

Businessman seated comfortably on a private plane with a laptop.
Businessman seated comfortably on a private plane with a laptop.

Flying privately means you can expect a positive pre-departure experience, loads of luggage and leg room, and the comfort of a plush private airplane seat. You can also take your animal companion along, and the food and beverages are something to look forward to. A good night’s sleep becomes a reality and you get to enjoy the latest in-flight entertainment. Although this may seem like a lot of indulgence, spending many uncomfortable hours on a commercial airline when you have business to attend to at your destination or when you’ve spent your hard-earned money on the vacation of your dreams is no joke. On the other hand, reaching your destination without having to sacrifice a single hour to jetlag is priceless.

How to make the most of private jet charter travel

  • Choose the right private charter company by doing a bit of research before you commit. Look around online to see if the airline gets good reviews. And ask as many questions as possible about what you can expect from the experience. This may include the number of years the operator has been in business, the size of their fleet, and a detailed breakdown of costs.
  • Try to travel with a group if possible. The size of your group will determine the type of aircraft you will travel on, which can benefit you in two ways. A larger group will spread the cost on a light to mid-size jet on an empty leg, whereas a smaller group allows you to book a very light and less expensive jet or helicopter.
  • Speak to your private jet charter operator about your destination. They may be able to save you time by choosing an airport close to your destination, or fly to an airport that allows you to travel part of the way using ground transportation.

The next time you need to make last-minute flight plans, speak to our team about the benefits of private jet charter for fast, agile, and personalized travel that’s more affordable than you might think. In a hurry? Get an instant price estimate as a starting point. You can also talk to us about other options for flexible, cost-effective jet charter, like our short-haul air taxi service or our jet card that offers you a range of benefits unsurpassed by any other product on the private aviation market.

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