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By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

I’ve only experienced it once. Striding across the tarmac to board a private jet, feeling like the luckiest, most pampered woman on the planet. (At least until I discovered that it was the first flight with a new engine, but that’s another story.) The truth is, skipping the madness, and health risks, of commercial airports and instead taking off on a private jet is a wonderful experience. And one that many more people have been opting for since the pandemic.

Previously, people with discretionary income still didn’t fly privately. That’s all changed since COVID-19 hit. Even vaccinated people have real issues with commercial flying, which includes hundreds of airport touch points where travelers come in contact with all kinds of germs, as well as the hordes of other travelers moving through major airports. The jam-packed boarding and deboarding of the plane, where social distancing doesn’t exist, is another issue. Flying private, there are far fewer touch points and fewer encounters with other travelers. This, in addition to the luxury of it all, is why charter, fractional ownership and full ownership of private aircraft are on the upswing.

So, how do you go about booking a private jet? These days, there are dozens of options for travelers looking to take to the skies in relative seclusion. Fractional ownership, full ownership and traditional charters are out of most people’s price range. But with the takeoff of charter open marketplaces, ticket prices are more reasonable than you might expect. Here are some tips on how to score one of these elusive, and exclusive, seats.

Charter Open Marketplaces
A number of newer services are connecting fliers directly with charter operators, allowing travelers to browse, book and buy within minutes.

A free, self-service app that touts itself as an “Airbnb for air travel,” JetASAP allows fliers to secure and book private flights directly from their smartphones. There are no membership fees, and fliers aren’t required to pay a commission. Just enter a flight request, which includes your airport of departure and preferred flight times, and live operators respond with quotes and can answer any questions. 

The FLYJETS platform operates like a travel search engine, allowing you to sort results via preferred aircraft size, location and desired departure time. Prices can be as much as 50% lower than the costs of an average charter, and booking options include full charters, seats on shared charters and group-purchase with friends, family or colleagues. Travelers can offer bids on certain flights where there isn't a fixed price. 

Founded in October 2020, SharedCharter matches up travelers with the same desired itinerary so they can share a private flight at a fraction of the cost. Once a match is made, the company sources the right aircraft for the trip and facilitates all the other luxury amenities you expect when flying private.

Now that charter open marketplaces have finally gotten off the ground, people are paying substantially less for the luxury of private jets. Still, tickets will almost always be more than flying first class commercially. But, in some cases, avoiding those aggravating airports, and feeling like a true jet-setter for the day, just might make it worth it.

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