Turn on the news, and chances are you’ll see videos of fisticuffs and shouting matches, what could easily be scenes from a drunken bar fight or a Philadelphia Eagles game. Unfortunately, it’s a view to flying with the big airlines these days.
However, if paying $5,000 per hour or more to charter a private jet seems a bit steep, you could be in luck.
Aero, a by-the-seat private jet airline founded by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, starts Los Angeles … [+]
Several private jet airlines that sell flights-by-the-seat are launching new routes and expanding for the winter.
JSX, which was founded by former JetBlue and Virgin executive Alex Wilcox back in 2016, last week launched flights between Austin and Dallas while doubling frequency on its route between Houston and Dallas.
As it refers to itself, the “hop-on, hop-off” carrier uses regional jets that once squeezed in as many as 50 passengers with a knee crunching, now standard 3o-to-31 inches of space between seat rows.
After being refurbished by JSX, there are just 30 seats with 35-to 36-inches of legroom, and the aircraft it uses for its intra-Texas flights have no middle seats.
While there are free drinks, snacks, and checked baggage (including golf bags, skis and snowboards), the biggest reason to use JSX is that you can check in up to 20 minutes before departure. That’s because JSX, like the other semi-private, jet sharing or by-the-seat airlines, take your pick, don’t use the main airline terminals, but a combination of private lounges and FBOs, the same terminals used by those high-flyers taking their Gulfstreams to their superyachts in the Caribbean.
Best of all, JSX seats typically sell for between just $129 and $299 per flight.
On October 14, those of you who are bound for Las Vegas – at least from Los Angeles – can arrive like a high-roller without spending like one.
Aero, the brainchild of Uber co-founder Garrett Camp (Forbes’ Billionaires #655; $3.9 billion net worth), uses similar jets to JSX but goes a step further in its luxe quotient, paring back the seat count to just 16 Italian leather recliners. It will offer a single flight between Van Nuys Airport and Las Vegas on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with seats running for $950 each. The new Las Vegas flights are in addition to Aspen, Jackson Hole and Sun Valley.
And if you’re a New York, don’t worry. These jet-sharing airlines haven’t forgotten about you. XO, a unit of Vista Global Holding, which also offers private charter flights on the Bombardier Global 7500 – think paying $20,000 per hour – is doubling its by-the-seat flights between Westchester County Airport north of Manhattan to Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach for the winter.
Blade and Vista Global’s XO are both adding by-the-seat jet sharing flights from New York to Palm … [+]
According to its FlyXO.com website, fares start from $1,790 each way, more than you will pay in first class with the airlines, but again, you miss getting to line up with thousands of other folks in snaking TSA lines and perhaps some of the live entertainment that is now too often a feature of the friendly skies.
Blade, better known for its shared helicopter flights to the Hamptons, will again have a full slate of by-the-seat options, including Miami, Palm Beach and Aspen from New York. It includes rotorcraft transfers from Manhattan heliports to Westchester County. It also sells books of tickets with seats costing as low as $2,423 one-way.
There are other by-the-seat options as well. If you want to head for the mountains, Taos Air, which suspended flights last year due to Covid-19, again offers by-the-seat flights from Austin, Dallas, San Diego-Carlsbad, and Los Angeles-Hawthorne. Advanced Airlines, which operates flights for Surf Air and Taos Air, is starting its own by-the-seat flights from Southern California airports to Mammoth Yosemite Airport after they were delayed last year due to the pandemic.
If you are headed to the Caribbean, but don’t have a Gulfstream budget, Tradewind Aviation is restarting by-the-seat private flights to Anguilla from San Juan on Dec. 17. It already offers by-the-seat flights to St. Barts.
How well are these shared private jet flights doing? Earlier this year XO said shared flight revenues increased 225% year-over-year in March, with a 120% uptick for the quarter.
I’m Editor-in-Chief of DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly e-newsletter for private jet owners and Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer’s guide comparing over 250 jet card programs from major players like Flexjet, Jet Linx, NetJets, Sentient Jet, Wheels Up, VistaJet, and XO to newcomers like FlyExclusive and boutique brokers. You’ll also find performance profiles of popular private jets, from turboprops King Air 350, Pilatus PC-12 and HondaJet to the Phenom 300, Challenger 300 and 350, Gulfstream G450, G550, G650, G700, Bombardier’s popular Global Express family, the iconic Learjet and S-76 helicopter used by both Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump. There’s a free guide explaining various options and even a guide for first-timers and specifically what you need to know before chartering. And before you fly, find out what’s an FBO. You’ll also find a Deal Book, cataloging M&A activity and launches by key players. I’ve spent my working career in travel and luxury media, for 14 years at Travel Agent magazine, where I began as a reporter, then covered the airline industry as Aviation Editor and ended up rising to Group Publisher. In 2000 I started Elite Traveler, a consumer lifestyle magazine distributed globally aboard private jets, where I was President and Editor-in-Chief until 2014. In 2007, I co-authored of “The Sky’s the Limit: Marketing to the New Jet Set.” In 2014 I wrote “23 Ways to Create More Sales Opportunities 25 Minutes,” and in 2016 I co-authored “Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich.” Verb named me as one of the Top 25 Digital Luxury Experts to follow. For more private aviation and news on jet cards, private aviation memberships, and fractional ownership, visit Private Jet Card Comparisons’ news updates.