TIPS: How to book your first private jet flight and what to expect through your journey?
Updated: Mar 17, 2022
As countries are gradually reopening their borders to international travelers, we keep witnessing a surge in private flights demand from first-time users.
It is an understandable trend becoming the 'new normal' for travelers who want to fly in a safe and secure environment. The benefits of flying privately are broad, such as saving time, setting your own schedule, avoiding the hassles of flying the airlines, and so forth.
The private jet world, however, can be tricky as there seems to be so many advertised solutions with so many information to filter and choose from. Though it is not as easy as going online to buy an airline ticket, the process can be smooth and cost effective if you work with the right jet charter broker to guide you through every step of the way.
So should you be flying for business purpose or with your family on a well-deserved break to reconnect with the world, how to make the best choice when booking your first private jet trip? Here's what you need to know when booking a private jet flight.
1. Finding the right private jet charter company to book your jet The process of booking a private jet may seem daunting to a first-timer but it can actually be a simple process as long as you ask the right questions. Working with the right broker, you will get access to the most suitable options to your flying needs.
2. The process of finding the right aircraft
You should tell your charter representative the following key information: -where do you want to go, -when do you want to depart and return, -how many passengers are flying with you, -how much luggage will you have, -and what's your budget?
The first two are simple as they are the basics of any trip but the rest will be key in ensuring the correct aircraft is chosen as one size does not fit all and the cheapest and smallest option is not always the best option.
The number of passengers may automatically determine the minimum required size of an aircraft. For example, when flying with nine people, a super mid-size aircraft will likely be required while a group of only two people can fit easily into a turboprop or light jet.
Luggage is also a determining factor in the size of the aircraft as certain oversized items like golf clubs, skis, and large suitcases can't fit in every private jet. Unlike airliners, not all private aircraft have baggage holds and require luggage to be stored onboard the jet.
If excessive luggage and large numbers of passengers aren't an issue, the size of the aircraft may not be important as most will often request the cheapest option, though some may prefer larger jets. Heavy jets, as they're known, are preferred especially on long-distance or overnight flights so there is more room to stretch out and sleep.
Giving a budget upfront will also allow the charter representative to provide better-suited options.
O2xH2O TIPS: with travel restrictions still in place, we advise that you let your charter representative know about the nationality of every passenger flying with you to help you double check the conditions of entry at your destination.
3. Determining the safety level of each flight
Not all aircraft are operated at the same levels of safety as each operator has different standards for their pilots. To ensure a high-quality aircraft and crew in terms of safety, clients should ask for the safety ratings of the aircraft, crew, and operator that they're flying on.
Safety ratings in private aviation are determined by two main companies, Argus and Wyvern.
Having a rating from these companies means that a safety audit has been performed and that flight crews must meet a certain threshold to fly under certain safety ratings.
Clients, at the very least, should be requesting two pilots for their flights that meet either Argus or Wyvern status.
In the post-pandemic world, clients should also be asking how their aircraft are being cleaned to avoid contact with potential infectious pathogens. Some operators are taking special precautions to deep clean the aircraft before and after every flight.
4. Booking an aircraft and paying for the charter
Once all the information is conveyed on the desired trip and requested safety ratings, the charter representative will provide the client with options for different aircraft. The options will include the type of aircraft, the amenities offered such as WiFi, and the final price.
After an aircraft is chosen, the client will be sent a contract to fill out agreeing to the terms and conditions of the flight and any cancellation or change policy imposed by the company. The signed contract locks in the flight, and then it's up to the client to pay for the flight before the day of departure.
Payment is usually done via wire transfer but can also be done via a credit card depending on the value of the flight.
O2xH2O TIPS: for flight amount above 30,000U$ anticipate at least two to three days before your departure date to allow enough time to process cross-borders payments by bank transfer. Also double check whether Wifi utilisation is complimentary or charged by consumption.
5. What to expect on the day of the flight
Once the trip is booked and an aircraft is assigned, your charter sales representative will provide with an itinerary or trip sheet. The itinerary lists three important details: the tail number of the aircraft, the departure facility, and the departure time.
The tail number is used to identify which aircraft a charter group will be flying on. Unlike the airlines, private flights don't typically go by a flight number and the tail number is the primary method of identification.
The departure facility will often be a private terminal at an airport known as a Fixed Base Operator or FBO. Unlike commercial terminals, FBOs are typically small and act as a waiting room with lounges, chairs, bathrooms, and sometimes fun amenities including a popcorn machine or golf simulator in the more high-end locations.
The benefit of departing out of an FBO is that passengers can drive right up to the aircraft at most airports and have their car valeted. If arriving early, the facilities typically offer free parking and a short walk from the parking lot to the plane.
Once inside, the passengers will give their tail number to the front desk representative who will then connect them with their pilots or flight crew. A line service technician will then take any baggage directly to the plane. They'll often expect a tip for the service but it's not required.
After an identification check and quick pre-flight briefing, welcome to your joy ride.
O2xH2O TIPS: we suggest you arrive at the private jet terminal (FBO)around 30 minutes before your departure time. The check in process is usually very smooth but do allow some extra time if you have many luggage with you. Also ensure you are heading to the right airport as private jet airports are not located at the same place as commercial airlines terminals.
6. Onboard the aircraft
The onboard experience largely depends on the type of aircraft, the optional extras ordered ahead of time, and if a cabin attendant is on board. Most aircraft will offer a complimentary self-serve offering of snacks and drinks including soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
If catering was ordered ahead of time, it will be displayed in the aircraft's galley for customers to indulge in. If a cabin attendant is on board, all food and drinks will be served directly to passengers.
Pilots very seldom serve passengers as their primary responsibility is flying the aircraft.
Entertainment depends on the aircraft with larger aircraft typically featuring DVD systems and audio systems to help pass the time. WiFi is available on most jet aircraft but if that is a must, passengers should stress that to the representative that arranges their flights.
O2xH2O TIPS: do let your charter representative know if you have any special catering requests at the time of booking so your menu can be bespoke to your tastes. When traveling with kids, also ask whether movies or on board games can be arranged for your little ones.
7. After the flight
If passengers have transportation arranged ahead of time, the arrival FBO can typically arrange for it to be waiting plane-side, one of the benefits of private travel. A new trend for the wealthy, however, is just calling an Uber.
Ensuring a clean aircraft is also the responsibility of the passenger as they may be charged if the aircraft requires professional cleaning.
If the same plane is being used for the return flight, the flight crew may offer to give their personal information such as a phone number so that they can be contacted directly. While most changes will have to be done through the charter representative, having a pilot's phone number can be useful to let them know if a passenger will be late or early.
O2xH2O TIPS: smokers are usually charged a cleaning fee at an average fee of 2,000U$, and for your own health please refrain from smoking.
8. Tip or no tip?
Private jet pilots typically do not expect a tip but, as with most service professions, any signs of appreciation are welcome. Though their job is to fly the plane, private aviation pilots are often performing tasks that aren't usually required of airline pilots.
As the only on-the-ground representative of the charter company, pilots are the first line of defense when it comes to customer service and troubleshooting potential issues. Private jet pilots also often don't have a flight planning team behind them and conduct most pre-flight activities such as route planning and filing flight plans.
Put simply, these pilots and cabin crew work hard and a tip is always appreciated.
Got any further question? Reach out now to your O2 Aviation consultant at email@example.com to ensure smooth preparations for your upcoming journey.