What is Jet charter?
Jet charter is probably one of the best-kept travel secrets around.
Jet charter is about saving you time and, often, money on your business trips. Jet charter is the convenience of traveling on your schedule rather than the airlines’ schedule, and flying to airports closer to your final ground destination. Selecting a charter operator is not difficult, nor does it require a vast knowledge of the industry or federal air carrier regulations. Best of all, Jet charter is having complete control over your travel environment, while enjoying the comfort, safety and security of a private aircraft.
When does it make sense to jet charter?
Jet charter is smarter only under certain circumstances. The airlines are very competitive when it comes to carrying a lot of people, for long distances, to a limited number of destinations. So when traveling between two very distant, major cities, like Los Angeles and New York, or traveling overseas, it may make sense to travel on the airlines. But, there are times when jet charter makes a lot more sense. For example, when you have several places to go but very little time. Or, if there are more than one of you going. Or, if your destination is not a major airline hub. Or, when the airlines’ schedules just don’t fit into your business schedule.
So, before you compare the costs of airline travel to air charter, consider the time and money you’ll save on overnight expenses— motels, meals and car rental—and factor in the inconveniences you often face with the scheduled airlines: lost/delayed baggage, missed connections, cramped seating and oversold flights, to name a few. Many times it’s smarter to charter.
Well, how much does a charter cost?
It will depend on your particular flight and really can’t be determined until you call a local charter operator with specific trip plans. But, generally speaking, charter rates will be hourly or by the mile, and will vary according to the size of the aircraft. We can email or fax a guaranteed quote to you in minutes.
What information should I have when calling a charter operator?
First of all, lay out your travel plans. Ask yourself the following questions:
What city do you want to depart from and where are you going?
Will there be any intermediate stops?
What is your return date?
How many people will be traveling with you?
Will you need ground transportation arranged?
Will you need any special catering for your flight?
This way, you’ll have all the necessary information ready when you call your local charter operator. Now all you need to know is what to ask when you call.
Ask about the fee structure. Some charter operators will charge by the mile and some will charge by the hour. Hourly rates are determined based upon the type of aircraft chartered, and normally include the cost of the aircraft, pilot(s), and standard catering. Operators will sometimes charge by the mile rather than by the hour, and their mileage rate will also include those items mentioned in the hourly rate method. Because the services offered are customized to fit your specific desires, it is difficult to give general price estimates. Keep in mind that the charter operator may need to adjust the final cost of your charter due to changes in logistics or en route deviations. If there is a potential for variations from a quoted price, this should be clearly noted at the time an agreement is reached with the operator.
Ask about any extra charges to the quoted price. Extras might include things like landing fees, de-icing, hangar storage, and federal and state taxes where applicable. A common extra fee is the pilot(s) waiting fee and overnight crew charges (if your trip requires an overnight stay for the crew at your destination). If your visit is a long one, your pilot(s) may have to drop you off, fly back to base and then come back later to get you. This doubles the flight time and possibly your fare. Ask your charter operator about this before the flight, so that you can create a plan that best suits your needs and budget. If it’s only a short visit, you’ll probably be better off paying the pilot(s) to wait. Typically, the hourly wait fee is based on the number of pilots, with a maximum charge per day. If the crew is to remain overnight, an overnight charge will be imposed to cover the crew’s overnight expenses.
Ask about the aircraft. Normally, charter operators have a variety of aircraft types in their charter fleet, each designed for different missions. You should ask the charter operator about what aircraft they would recommend for meeting the mission of your flight. Then determine whether that aircraft will meet your needs for speed, comfort, and price. Generally, there are five classes of charter aircraft, with different models within each class. These five general classes of aircraft are:
- Single-engine piston
- Twin-engine piston
There are approximately 3,000 air charter operators in the United States who have met the comprehensive criteria required to qualify for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Air Carrier Operating Certificate. Of those operators, approximately 2,500 offer service in airplanes and 500 provide service in helicopters.
Are these aircraft safe?
Yes. Just like the airlines’ passengers, nearly every charter flight passenger that leaves an airport in the United States this year will land at their destination safely. The FAA has rules that also address crew rest, physical examinations, and mandate a stringent anti-drug/alcohol program for operators. The FAA closely monitors operators to make sure that they conform to the established standards of performance. The high standards for training, maintenance and operations required by the FAA, and the devotion to safety of the charter operators themselves, assure you of the safest possible flight environment. Couple this attitude towards safety with technology improvements in the cockpit over recent years, and you have the safest mode of transportation available.
Am I secure?
Global security concerns have led to significant security enhancements within the entire aviation industry, and charter operators are no exception. In fact, enhanced security is often one of the primary reasons for chartering, because when you charter an aircraft, you are in control. You decide who is permitted on your flight. There are no strangers to overhear your confidential business conversations or to threaten your personal security. When traveling via charter, you dictate the departure time and location as well as the destination.
Your flight itinerary is private, not published for the world to see, as is the case with airline schedules. Recently, the federal government has mandated security programs for most charter operators. In addition, most charter operators, and many airports, have also instituted security precautions for charter passengers that may include a verification of identification, checks of baggage for dangerous items, screening with a metal detector and other measures, even when not required by federal regulations. Your charter operator is dedicated to ensuring your safety and security and will be willing to answer any of your questions.
What about weather?
Weather can affect your flight plans when chartering just as it can affect airline schedules. The FAA has many regulations concerning weather, types of aircraft, and pilot capabilities. Some aircraft are equipped with various optional equipment that allows operation in complex weather such as icing conditions or heavy rain showers. The operator you select can explain the limitations of the aircraft and the company’s authorizations. The pilot will not fly an aircraft if the weather conditions do not meet the standards of his certification. Always trust the decision of your professional pilot when it comes to weather and flight safety.
What about the ground facilities?
Charter facilities will vary from airfield to airfield. The smaller airfields will often have many of the accommodations of major airports—waiting areas, restrooms and telephones. Many of these facilities, known as fixed base operators (FBOs), provide complimentary airport-to-town transportation. Also, it is very likely that your charter operator can prearrange ground transportation to be waiting for you upon your arrival. Charter operators are also excellent resources for obtaining your preferred lodging if your trip necessitates hotel accommodations. What these smaller fields facilities may lack in size, they make up for in warm hospitality. With few exceptions, people in aviation are there by choice: They like what they’re doing and their enthusiasm sparks a cordial atmosphere. There are two primary benefits to choosing a smaller airport: avoiding the delays and hassles so often found at the major airline hubs, and landing at an airport close to your ground destination.
Can I make my connections with airlines if necessary?
Occasionally, passengers in towns without airline service decide to charter an aircraft to more easily connect with an airline flight. This is possible. However, due to security, airports with airline service are divided into separate general aviation (including charter) and airline areas. But at most of these airports, courtesy cars are provided to drive you to the airline terminal. Inform your charter operator that you will be making an airline connection and they can make the necessary arrangements.
Please call us at 1-888-963-8986 or 1-559-207-0545 if you would like us to provide you with a personal quote for your specific needs.
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