HOW TO RENT A PRIVATE JET - THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE
EVERYTHING FIRST TIME PRIVATE JET FLYERS NEED TO KNOW
More people than ever want to rent a private jet. Demand has grown exponentially over the past two years, with private jet traffic in the United States up 15% since 2019.
The catalyst was the COVID-19 global pandemic, which shut down commercial aviation and brought the world to a screeching halt. However, the rebound in travel has led to a radically increased demand for private jet charters.
For people planning high-value or time-sensitive business trips, private jet rental can be a cost-effective way to get there.
6 Private Jet Rental Questions You’ll Always Be Asked
For the first-time private jet flyers, getting started might feel daunting. But it opens the world to you: Chicago to L.A. and back by tee time? Omaha to Aruba for the weekend?
When contacting a jet provider, you’ll be asked to provide specific details and your travel needs. These questions are near-universal in the private jet industry and are needed to provide the appropriate type of plane and level of service you’d expect (since excellent, personalized service is the point).
1. Where and When Are You Going?
The most important question is where you plan to go and when. While commercial airlines are mostly restricted to a handful of larger or hub airports, private jets can fly into smaller municipal and private airports.
This is to ensure you get the right plane to match your needs. For example, when flying at sea level to Los Angeles or Miami, a Cessna Citation V only requires a runway of slightly over three thousand feet for takeoff. To take off at higher elevations, such as Colorado Springs at five thousand feet, the same plane needs a five thousand foot runway.
Since many airports have runways of at least five thousand feet, your options are wide open. There are around five thousand airports in the United States, and about three thousand of those can handle private jets. This means the chances are great that you can fly precisely where you want to.
2. Do you want a one-way or round-trip flight?
This is to determine if the plane and crew need to wait for you to board your return flight, or will be available after bringing you to your destination.
3. How many passengers?
With private jets coming in many different sizes, it’s crucial to find an available plane that can accommodate you and anyone you’re flying with. For example, a Gulfstream G650 is ideal for larger groups and longer flights, while a light jet like a Citation Mustang can carry four people.
4. How much baggage?
Just like with passenger size, your plane must be able to carry your baggage. This includes both by weight and size, so any larger items – such as golf bags or skis – can fit.
5. What size of aircraft do you want (or need)?
After accounting for passenger size and baggage weight, you may want the extra space larger aircraft provide. The operating limits of different planes are also a major factor.
For example, if you want to fly out of a hot airport at a high elevation, you might not be able to use a certain jet with every seat and cargo bin full. Also, you may not be able to take off with full fuel, which will necessitate additional fuel stops. Private jets give you unmatched flexibility but are much more sensitive to minor weight adjustments.
6. What is your budget?
Several factors go into the private jet charter cost you’ll face: the size of the plane and model, trip distance, and demand. Here’s our in-depth look at how private jet rental prices work.
Advantages of Renting Private Jets
Major airlines have dominated air travel for decades, but the pandemic has changed things forever. When entire fleets were grounded, it was obvious that the airline industry was not impervious.
At the same time, local airports buzzed on as they always have, including all types of private aircraft.
Flyers who had typically flown commercial – in first class or business class – and dealt with the crowds, long waits, and security lines switched to air charter services for air travel and haven’t looked back.
So what are the key benefits that keep private jet users coming back?
Here are the key advantages when you rent a private jet:
- You choose the airports: Instead of operating out of a maze of terminals, you can choose the airport size based on your proximity to it. Even if you choose a major hub airport, they have separate ramps and terminals for private jets, which are small, easy to navigate, and avoid the crowds and long waits of commercial airlines. Smaller airports have the equivalent of terminals, known as Fixed Base Operators (or FBO’s.)
- Fly on your schedule: You have a say in your flight plan and itinerary. Do you want to stop in Des Moines on the way to Flagstaff? If you need to take off at 3 a.m. to make it for a 7:30 client meeting or to close an important deal client, you can do that. You can greatly reduce flight times when flying on a private jet.
- Save Time and Avoid Airport Crowds: You don’t have to arrive hours early in order to park, ride the shuttle, find the right terminal, then wait in long TSA lines. Private jets operate out of small terminals with a limited client base, so security is a breeze. Plus, you can usually drive right up to the private terminal or FBO. There is usually dedicated parking right at the terminal building, and the timeframe from parking to boarding is measured in minutes, not hours.
- Covid Safety: There are far fewer high-risk contact points for the spread of COVID-19, and the aircraft is thoroughly cleaned after every flight, along with a control roster of who is in contact with the aircraft. You also get to choose who you fly with. While the risk isn’t eliminated entirely, you can greatly reduce it.
Ways to Rent a Private Jet
There are a few misconception out there about how private flights are booked. One common one is that booking the whole jet is the only way to rent a private jet. This isn’t necessarily true, though.
There are several ways to charter a private jet flight, and getting the whole aircraft is undoubtedly one of them. But you don’t need to book an entire jet every time.
If you don’t plan to travel regularly with a regular schedule, a charter broker, jet card, or fractional ownership probably isn’t for you. There are no service contracts or memberships needed when booking one-off flights.
On-demand private jet services are your ticket to unrestricted travel. You can book short-notice trips with no long-term obligation, and still get the same high level of service and planes as any other passengers.
By the Seat
A great way to save a little on the cost of an on-demand flight is to catch a ride on an open seat in somebody else’s charter. We list the seats available when a chartered flight is booked, and the seats aren’t filled, so you can come out on top if it happens to be headed where you need to go. Bonus points for a great networking opportunity!
Empty Leg Flights
Let’s be honest: we don’t like to fly empty legs on our jets for apparent reasons.
You can benefit from these empty legs by booking a single-leg trip that would otherwise be wasted space and fuel
Jet Cards & Memberships
The beauty of private aviation is the options it affords you. Instead of the monotony of commercial airlines’ A-to-B and B-to-C legs, you get A-to-anywhere.
If your plans and travel budget entail extended and routine travel, the on-demand option isn’t your best fit. You need a program that affords enough flight hours for your anticipated travels. A membership or card program locks you in for a predetermined number of hours you set up.
Unlike fractional ownership or outright ownership, jet card programs require no large capital expenses upfront. Also, unlike ownership, where you are locked into one specific aircraft, a membership card allows flexibility in aircraft type and size.
For travelers who intend to fly a lot, fractional ownership or even outright ownership are the best options. Be forewarned, though: you will need to fly many flight hours annually before you see the benefits of ownership, especially sole ownership.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Private Jet?
Private jet travel is always going to cost more than flying first or business class. Unlike airliners, private jets carry far fewer people to help spread around the costs of flying them, especially fuel.
Flying private can save significant amounts of travel time and offer increased productivity, which can be beneficial and help offset costs when flying for business.
Can you afford to tack on an additional four or five hours to your trip? Multiply these wasted hours over the weeks and years. Think of the missed opportunities waiting on an airport shuttle.
For a deeper look at private jet charter costs, check out our guide to private flight costs, which also explains how our pricing is different.
Types of Private Jets for Rent
While the propellers on piston engine planes and turboprops are visible on the outside of the plane, jet engines, or gas turbines, house their fan blades within the engine. Jets have become one of the most popular types of private planes over the last few years, especially with the different types of private jets available. For luxury private jet rentals, generally the newer and larger plane models will have the most amenities and comfort.
Private jets have four main classes:
- Light (Citation Mustang, Hawker 400-series, Premier 1)
- Medium (Lear 45/60/75, Phenom 300, Citation Excel)
- Heavy (Citation X, Challenger 300/350, Gulfstream IV/V)
- Super-heavy (Boeing Business Jet)
There are also turboprops, which are a hybrid between piston engines and jets. These have engines that provide thrust like a jet, but also have propellers. Examples of turboprops are the Beechcraft King Air 350 and the Pilatus PC-12.
As a rule of thumb, the lighter the jet, the lower the charter flight cost. But also, the lighter the payload, lower seating, and shorter range.
There’s usually a lot of flexibility in choosing an aircraft category, although they are not in the same price bracket. For example, a Challenger 6000 is much more costly to operate than a Citation Mustang or a single-engine turboprop.
Types of Private Jet Experiences
Private jet travel isn’t only about transportation needs and getting to and from your destination. The desired experience can be just as important in determining your needs when you rent a private jet.
For instance, a turboprop is the best aircraft if you only plan on flying to an interstate or regional destination.
Short trips are not ideal for jets, because jets are most efficient when climbing very high and cruising for long periods. This is why private jets cruise several thousand feet higher on average than airliners.
A jet would not be ideal when flying between Dallas and Austin, for example. It would spend nearly the entire flight just climbing to reach its standard altitude, only to have to begin its descent. But if you fly between New York and Los Angeles or Dallas and Orlando, then a jet is your best option.
What Is Your Desired Comfort Level?
While turboprops, light, and mid-jets are well-appointed, they are not spacious. If you and your guests want a larger cabin, a more substantial restroom, or more baggage space, then a large – or “heavy” – jet is a better match.
When you rent a private jet, you must weigh the desired comfort to cost, though. Heavy and super-heavy aircraft are much more comfortable, but they come with higher charter rates.
Private Jet Safety
Plane travel is one of the world’s most regulated forms of transportation, with strict maintenance and crew requirements. In the United States, all professionally operated aircraft must meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s stringent regulations for Part 135 charter operators.
The FAA vigorously checks Part 135 operators for compliance to ensure proper aircraft maintenance, pilot proficiency, and that the plane is operationally sound.
Planes also have onboard safety systems, using advanced avionics to avoid collisions and bad weather. These tools ensure pilots and ground controllers see the same things.
Private Jet Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), still conducts mandatory inspections on all flights entering the United States. However, fewer passengers on private jets and the smaller terminal sizes mean inspections go much faster. Indeed, the “line” to wait usually isn’t a line at all, and sometimes just you.
Yes, you will still have to go through security, but it will not be like you are used to. Many of the airport's private jets operate out of or do not have any TSA on site; there are minimum security requirements made on the airport, including fences, gates, locks, etc., but the onus is on the air carrier to screen crew and passengers.
Private jets use all kinds of airports. The primary requirement for airports to handle private jets is they must have sufficiently long and weight-bearing runways. They must also have air traffic control to accommodate jets.
Most private jets routinely operate out of major hub and secondary airports - sometimes called “executive airports”. These usually have separate terminals (FBOs) for private jets
Again, it depends. Airports of different sizes - large, secondary, and some municipal ones have what are known as fixed base operators (FBO’s).
These are usually privately operated and provided a range of services and amenities, which vary by airport.