Private aviation has always been the exclusive domain of the wealthy and powerful. The way that the .1% travels while the mortals fly commercial. And that’s still mostly the case. With an average cost of $30 grand for a cross-country trip and exponentially higher for international travel, it’s still all-but impossible for 99% of America to ever get into one of those private condos in the air. But there are a few options that allow even an average work-a-day traveler to sit on private leather seats for at least a little bit of airtime.
1. Uber for helicopters.
There’s nothing worse in NYC than having to sit through traffic from LGA or JFK into the city. That’s why the masters of the universe take them into the city. Or take them from Tribeca to Easthampton. And for $600 bucks, you two can take to the sky for a hot leap. Flyblade (https://www.flyblade.com/) has services all over the country and just recently even did chopper flights to Coachella.
2. NYC-London like a king.
Not actually like THE king. But BA has a special business-only flight from JFK-LCY (London City) with only 35 seats, all of them business class. And if you look often enough, every now and again you can find a roundtrip for a little more than $3,000. On a plane emptied to almost a fifth of its normal capacity, this will be the closest most people will ever get to a transatlantic private flight.
3. Taxis of the air.
Quite often, a person or company will hire a private jet and not have the full 15-20 passenger load. So the new app JetSmarter (https://jetsmarter.com/) allows you to see who’s going where and then snag the last seat for anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple grand. So you won’t be the only person on the jet; you’ll at least be one of a few like-minded people enjoying the finest leather, champagne, and service.
4. Surf the skies.
If you’re an avid traveler throughout Southern California, SurfAir (http://www.surfair.com/how-it-works.html) may become your best new friend. For a membership fee starting at $1950/month, you get essentially unlimited private jet flights to over 12 destinations. Considering how much wear and tear you put on your car and mind trying to navigate SoCal’s freeways, this is a bargain.
5. Live like a sultan.
Finally, there’s the “what if” option. As in “what if you went to Abu Dhabi and closed the deal of a lifetime.” Then you would book Etihad’s air suite (http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2014-05-05/etihad-rolls-out-new-class-flying-apartments). It costs about $21,000 for a one-way flight from AUH- but for that you get an airborne apartment complete with butler, a double bedroom, bath with a shower and a lounge. For $21 grand it’s not cheap and it’s not technically your own jet but it’s every bit as opulent as flying private and about 1/5th of the price.
So while private jets have never been more accessible, my advice to the average mortal is to start putting a little dough aside and you two can fly in style formerly only reserved for royalty and CEOs.
If the prices above seem steep, there’s always the option of flying commercial on your next vacation, or just get a better job!