How to Fly Private for Cheap!
The holidays remind many travelers of how painful it can be to travel commercially. Luckily, there are a few small companies offering excellent options to fly private without having to pay $5,000+ per hour. Checkout the options below…
Blackbird offers mainly turboprop and seaplane service on short 30 minute – 2 hour flights. Flights are available in California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, New York & Washington. You can book only via their mobile app and they offer scheduled, pool and charter flight options. Flights start at $99 each way. Download the iOS or Android app to get started.
Cal Jet Elite offers nonstop jet service between Carlsbad, CA and Las Vegas, NV. They started service on September 28th, 2017 and flights start at $69 each way. The airline operates a Bombardier CRJ700 jet, which has 64 seats. You can book it directly on their website. They do operate from commercial terminals which require you to go through TSA security and they aren’t part of the TSA PreCheck program yet. This is very similar to JetSuiteX, so we’ll see if passengers still want to put up with TSA. With only 1 aircraft in their fleet, it will be interesting to see how they handle mechanical or weather delays.
Surf Air operates in California and now in Europe as well. They utilize the Pilatus PC-12 turboprop in both locations and Phenom 300 jet exclusively in Europe. Memberships for unlimited flights are available for $1,950 per month per person. If you’d like individual flights they offer a trial roundtrip for $1,000 or 20 flights (one-ways) packages for $12,000. I was able to try it out recently on their San Diego to San Carlos route, review coming soon…
JetSmarter offers JetShuttle’s (scheduled routes) and JetDeal’s (empty legs) with their paid membership which runs $15,000 per year with a $2,500 initiation fee. They offer mainly jet service and some turboprops on shorter routes. JetShuttle is similar to UberPool where you are sharing a private jet with other members. If you fly more than twice per month this could be an excellent option if you fly between cities offered by their JetShuttle service. I’ve flown the Bombardier Challenger 300, Cessna Citation X, and Gulfstream IV with JetSmarter all offering excellent service.
JetSuiteX markets themselves as flying “semi-private” as they offer scheduled service on specific routes utilizing their 30 passenger Embraer 135 jets. Fares start at $79 and offer service to the Bay Area, Burbank, Las Vegas and Mammoth Mountain as well a special event flights such as Coachella, Sundance and CES. Every flight offers:
– 30 comfortable leather seats
– Business class legroom
– Full flight attendant service
– Two seasoned JetSuiteX pilots
– Complimentary snacks, beverages, wine and cocktails
– Complimentary inflight WiFi
– Power outlets at every seat
– No overhead bins for a spacious cabin
– Extra soundproofing
– No middle seats
I haven’t flown JetSuiteX yet, but my friends who flew a few weeks ago had rave reviews and will fly them on all their routes given they are based in Burbank, CA.
JetSuite offers prepaid jet card memberships starting at $50,000 per year, charter services and SuiteDeals (empty legs). SuiteDeals flights run ~$536/hr and are posted around 7PM PST everyday for flights operating the following day. They offer SuiteDeals on their 4 and 6 passenger jets. I was able to fly on their 4 passenger Phenom 100 in 2015 and it is definitely the best option as you get the entire jet at that price. You’re not sharing the plane with anyone else. I would highly recommend signing up for their daily SuiteDeals email.
Have you flown any of these or any other private aviation company? Comment below.