5 Things to Know before Taking a Charter Plane

Photo of 5 Things to Know before Taking a Charter Plane 1/1 by Dixie Somers

When the Wright brothers first flew at Kittyhawk, who would have imagined man’s dream of flying would someday become a world of luxury private jets and cramped business-class commuter flights? Today we fly as a matter of course. With the advances in aeronautic-aviation, someday we may charter space shuttles to distant stars, but for now let’s just look at how we fly here on earth. What do you need to know about chartering your own charter plane from a business like Silverhawk Aviation?

Why Charter a Plane?

If you’re rich and famous, the answer is obvious: one charters flights because they offer security and privacy, allow you to make non-stop flights to the destination of your choice at the time you choose and you’re not restricted to the 500 (out of 5,000) airports locations that offer commercial flights. Actually, those are very good reasons for anyone to charter a plane. Conduct business meetings in a private setting, get the whole team and all your over-sized equipment to the next big game or bring more guests to your destination wedding with more flair instead of more cost. Prices are set on the basis of the flight not the number of passengers, so the cost per person goes down for larger groups. What else do you need to know?

Size matters. How many people and pets will be traveling with you and how much baggage will they be bringing? While you can bring your dog and your golf clubs, there are weight limits for each size plane. You will need to think through what size aircraft you need to charter, based on the weight of passengers and baggage for distance you need to travel.

Trip details. When do you leave and from where? And where are you going? Flight plans will need to be filed and charter planes often base their charges on the length of the flight (hourly). Keep in mind, too, that prices will go up at peak seasons for charter flights the same way as commercial airline prices do.

Non-stop service? Depending on the size of the plane and the length of the trip you may be able to request non-stop service to your destination, if it is one of the larger jets. Smaller planes tend to cost a little less but if it is a longer flight you may need plan for stops to refuel.

• Round trip or one-way? If your travel plans allow, you may be able to take advantage of one-way flights offered by chartered jets repositioning for other customers. These flights, known as “empty leg” trips account for almost a third of all airport traffic in the US and charter companies will often offer empty leg flights at super low rates through various booking apps.

Safety first. Do your research when choosing a charter flight company. While flying is safer than driving, you still want to check on the background of the company you are flying with. Ask about their security, maintenance and flight safety records. Look for good customer service, and be sure they have insurance.

Do it again. Is this a once in a lifetime trip or will you be flying this way again? Consider using a charter broker if you fly more than 25 hours a year. Some charter companies offer memberships and even “all-you-can-fly” programs for frequent-flyers who aren’t quite to the point of buying their own jet.

Check, please. The bill for a private flight is going to look different from the receipt and ticket you’re used to from commercial airlines. Each flight is different, but you can expect to see items like airport landing fees, overnight crew accommodations, fuel costs, flight taxes and more. Be sure to discuss everything thoroughly with the company before signing your agreement. You don't want to be caught by unexpected fees.

There are many reasons to consider taking a private charter plane instead of a commercial airline service. The flexibility and security of this option are the major reasons most people are willing to consider it in spite of the higher associated costs. You can leave when you want, with whom you want, to go where you want, and there won’t be a kid behind you kicking your seat the whole way. You are in control.

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