Flying private is the ultimate travel experience. Driving up to the aircraft, swiftly walking up the ramp to an air-conditioned jet, with your crew standing by at the ready. Not wasting time at main airports, security lines or airport lounges. Keeping your shoes on and your laptop in your bag, taking any amount of liquids you want and arriving with your luggage. Unrivaled, unmatched and unbeatable.
While some of the best things in life are free, flying private is not one of them. Having an aircraft in the sky just for you comes with a price tag. So, what is the best way to fly private? If you are looking for an answer, well, it’s not here. There is no right or wrong, as there are many ways to charter a plane. But remember, in an industry tailored to meet the customers’ demands, the correct question is: which is the best way for you? In the same line, Palm Beach Jet Charter Company, BitLux is in a class of its own by implementing a crypto-centered business, serving this niche of clients with the possibility to charter flights using all types of cryptocurrencies, as well as having dedicated account managers for a much more personalized experience over time.
1) On-demand charter
This model defines in a way what private aviation is all about; flexibility and full range customization. The passenger selects any type of aircraft, a jet, turboprop or propeller, to any destination. Clients can arrange for the plane to wait for them, ask for a new aircraft or, if they are on a business tour, book it for a week.
First and foremost, flexibility. The customer can select any route, any aircraft, any number of passengers. There are usually no blocked dates and most times an aircraft can be available several hours before the charter request. Price is also an advantage; with no membership fees and no prepaid hours, a charter is actually cheaper most of the times. It is more expensive if flying to and from uncommon airports on a one-way basis. But if you live in larger metropolitan areas, it’s always cheaper to charter. Always. It also puts the air charter provider on the spot to do best job on every flight, as the customer has no obligations to return to the service provider.
The main disadvantage is the cancellation policy. While each company has its own guidelines, the cancellation typically takes effect when the flight is booked. It can get up to 100% cancellation on one-way flights booked, which can become an issue if plans change. Furthermore, while there’s no need for membership or long-term contracts because it’s a one-off service, hourly rates are higher than in other flight models.
1. Best for: One-off flights.
2. Cost: High hourly rates.
3. Geographical scope: Worldwide.
4. Leading companies: Air Charter Service, PriveJets, PrivateFly
2) Prepaid Jet Cards
Operators and air charter providers alike offer this type of commercial platform. It is a pre-sell system for a specific aircraft (King Air B200) or category (turboprop). Providers can use their own fleet, especially if they are operators, the same aircraft pool than on-demand charter brokers or contract exclusive aircraft for the service.
Fixed pricing. As the client buys the hours in the beginning, the hourly rate is fixed with typically some margin built in to allow for fuel price fluctuation. Another great advantage is being billed only for the “live leg”. The passenger is not required to pay for positioning legs or any other flights that do not have the passengers on board. Cancelation is usually flexible.
The passengers are locked into a long-term program and cannot switch providers until the hours are flown. Jet cards require prepayment of a large sum to begin the relationship. Passengers also do not benefit from occasional “deals” on the market, such as when their flight matches a significantly discounted empty leg. Also, jet card programs are not international – they are limited to a geographic region unless they are qualifying round trips. Jet cards also have higher hourly rates but guaranteed availability. That is the trade-off – you get assured availability on short notice, but you pay quite a lot more for it.
1. Best for: Experienced executive passengers that know what they want.
2. Cost: Fixed and long-term.
3. Geographical scope: Worldwide.
4. Leading companies in this segment: XOJET, VistaJet, Wheels Up
3) Fractional Ownership
Do you want to own an aircraft without looking after maintenance costs, pilot salaries, nor insurance? Fractional ownership providers sell one aircraft to multiple owners, therefore lowering the overall management costs.
Consistency. The passengers usually benefit from flying on the same aircraft or aircraft type, with the larger providers maintaining a uniformed interior and exterior livery.
Tax deduction. While this depends on passenger’s personal or corporate tax structure, usually they can benefit from depreciating the aircraft, as it is actually an asset on their books.
Little to no flexibility; the passengers buy into a specific aircraft, and while some providers allow fleet type flexibility, some don’t. The program is also long-term, as it requires aircraft acquisition, even if it’s just on paper.
Price. The “entry ticket” comes with a hefty tag, as it requires to buy a portion of a plane as well as monthly maintenance fees, in addition to the live leg fees charged.
1. Best for: Those interested in owning an aircraft without paying for overall management costs.
2. Cost: High entry ticket.
3. Geographical scope: Regional.
4. Leading companies in this segment: Flexjet, NetJets, AirSprint.
4) Seat sharing programs
Although it has been in the market for decades, this model was more about timing than the business model itself. Today’s shared economy has propelled new forms of engaging with new and diverse audiences, and seat sharing programs are no exception. With high levels of accessibility due to attractive prices, providers offer seats on a private aircraft for certain destinations. This model shakes the private aviation market as some say it resembles commercial aviation, although it has all the perks of the industry: comfort, efficiency and fast track immigration.
Price. Shared seat programs allow to experience private aviation with affordable fees, with the same luxurious setting as any private aviation program. You can usually get to cities without commercial aviation connections, thus avoiding massively concurred airports, delays and arriving closer to the destination.
Every flight has an operating cost, thus covering that minimum is paramount for the provider. If a flight has only two seats sold, would you take the losses? In this case, the flight might not take place. Flying with people you don’t know defeats the purpose of flying private for some, and this is naturally the case with this model.
1. Best for: Short-haul flights of no more than 2 hours.
2. Cost: Low.
3. Geographical scope: Local.
4. Leading companies in this segment: JetSuite, Wingly, JetClass.
5) Buying a jet
Having your own jet is viewed as the ultimate achievement. Prices can go as high as US$ 70 M, with the possibility to select the interior decoration and inflight entertainment. Although there are some people that have their own private jet, this option is primarily used by large corporations with a dedicated flight operations staff.
You choose what you want, how you want it and when you want it, from aircraft exterior paint to the type of coffee maker on board. No standby or itinerary change rates; if you go on a 4-day vacation, which you would like to extend for another 7 days, there are no additional fees or cancellation policies to work around. While there is no exact answer, the industry standard rule of thumb is that it’s worth buying an aircraft when you fly 300 hours per year or more.
No flexibility: once you got what you wanted, you must “stick with it”. If the passengers need a larger or smaller aircraft or want to travel in another continent where their aircraft cannot go, they are back to square one and need to identify a way to charter the aircraft.
Management: buying the aircraft is just step one. It needs to be crewed, maintained and updated constantly. It requires not only constant financial expenditure but also regular attention.
So now that you know the ways of flying private, which one would you choose?
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