Private jets used to be the reserve of the ultra rich and famous. There are now ways to travel on a private jet which whilst still expensive, are a more affordable way for a special occasion or to tick it off the bucket list. I have to admit it is definitely on my bucket list but I still haven’t got round to it yet despite looking at the options many times. (Any private jets companies reading this that would like to give me a flight let me know!) Let’s have a look at the different options starting with the most expensive/exclusive and working our way down….
Buying empty legs
If you have a special occasion or just want to splash out, buying an empty leg of a private jet would be the simplest way to get the private jet aircraft to yourself. Empty legs are when the private jet has dropped off passengers somewhere or is going to collect them and the aircraft has to travel without any passengers. Obviously, this costs money to operate so companies will sell this off at a much-reduced price. There are quite a number of companies doing this now from the UK including Air Partner, Victor and Jetpartners. The prices are still not exactly cheap but if you were to fill the plane you could get seats starting around £500 per person. Some prices are also open to negotiation, particularly very close to the time. In the US empty legs are usually much cheaper, so if you want to fulfil a bucket list ambition it could be better to do it whilst on a US holiday.
The downside to empty legs is that you can never predict what is coming to come up and when, so you need to be flexible. Some companies operate a weekly mailing list with flights available 1-3 weeks in advance.
I like Air Partner for looking at empty legs as they have a clear list with prices on. Many of the other company websites don’t have this. I suspect that is because they are open to negotiation. Personally, I would rather know a ballpark figure so I don’t look stupid when I phone up and it turns out to be £20,000! Air Partner operate a range of private jet aircraft including the Hawker 800XP, Embraer Legacy (above), Phenom 300 and Cessna Citation Excel/XLS. They have empty leg flights from a wide range of UK airports including Luton, Farnborough and Manchester. You can find details of their current emplty legs and sign up for the weekly empty leg list here.
Shared private jet clubs
Shared private jet clubs are the latest things for private jets. These companies operate a membership scheme where you can usually fly as much as you want on their private jets but you will be sharing the space with other people. They operate a set schedule to various destinations so you don’t have the flexibility like you would with a private jet. However, the plus side is that it saves a huge amount of time in the airport as you fly from a private terminal and usually turn up a short time before the flight. Companies in the UK include Surfair and JetSmarter. These are still expensive with Surfair starting at £2,550 per month but there are now some cheaper options:
With Surfair you book via the Surf Air app very quickly and arrive at the airport only 15 minutes before departure. They operate a Phenom 300 jet which is an eight-seat executive aircraft. They also are adding two Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12s to the fleet based in Zurich. They depart from London City’s jet terminal which you can read a review of here.
Surfair have introduced a new cheaper option with their Escapes Membership pricing. This requires a £250 sign-up fee and then a £250 monthly subscription with a minimum 3-month term. On top of that you then buy single flight passes which start from £450-650 each-way. Guest passes are available for purchase from £800 each-way.
Surfair currently operate from London City to:
with Ibiza and Cannes being seasonal summer only routes. You can find more information on the Escapes Membership here.
JetClass are a new operation in Europe and are aiming to make private jet travel affordable. They currently only have one route from the UK, London City to Brussels but it is a great chance to try a private jet at an affordable cost. Prices for this route start at €490 one way, which you could then combine with your own paid or miles booking for the return if you don’t want to book both ways. They do have several other routes inter-Europe from places such as Nice, Zurich and Vienna which start at €390. This service is definitely on my list to try as it is such a great price to get the private jet experience. Again it is a shared jet but you still get all the other perks of a private jet.
More information on JetClass.com
You may remember that I will be speaking at ZorkFest in Vegas which takes place between 25-27 May 2018. Well, you can now have a chance to try a private jet type experience with ZorkAir on an Embraer ERJ-135 (twin-jet). This is being provided by JetSuiteX who run a scheduled charter service to Las Vegas on their jets from a private terminal at Los Angeles Burbank airport. JetSuiteX flights depart from private jet terminals, separate from the normal terminals and are equipped with their own TSA security checkpoints. On board, you get power sockets at each seat, complimentary Wi-Fi, and free in-flight entertainment streamed to your mobile device.
This is a scheduled charter service and seats will only be held for the next few days for holders of ZorkFest tickets. The service departs Los Angeles Burbank at 2.15pm on 25 May.
The ZorkAir package includes:
- Preflight “Kick Off to Summer” Cocktail Reception in the Hangar at Burbank Airport
- Flight BUR-LAS, with drinks
- Transportation from LAS (Las Vegas Airport, Atlantic Aviation) to Treasure Island
- Bags transferred from plane directly to your hotel room or suite at Treasure Island
- Friday night at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, INCLUDING resort fees and all taxes and fees
ZorkFest 2018 Las Vegas takes place at TI, Treasure Island, Las Vegas from May 25th to 27th, 2018 and is run by my good friend, Michael Trager of TravelZork. Michael specialises in Vegas and casino loyalty on his blog as well as being frequent flyer miles expert too. I shall be speaking at ZorkFest along with my other good friend Gilbert from God Save the Points. To be honest I’m just going because it promises to be an amazing weekend of Vegas debauchery and it was a good excuse to go! Having seen the images and videos from the last Zorkfest, I’m getting my liver in training now!
The weekend starts with a cocktail reception on Friday evening May 25th. From Saturday onwards there will be conference sessions on miles & points and everything Las Vegas casino related. The full schedule will be announced in the coming weeks. The Memorial day weekend is pretty much the biggest party time for Vegas outside the big fight weekends, as it is a major holiday weekend in the US.
If you interested in coming to this event here are the details:
Your ticket to ZorkFest includes:
- Friday cocktail reception
- Saturday conference sessions
- Saturday lunch during the conference
- Saturday evening Podcasters After Dark event Featuring Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas, Adam of Vegas Fanboy / Travel Fanboy, Mark Devol and Dr. Mike of You Can Bet on That. Eric Rosenthal is your host for the evening, and there will be a short introduction podcast by Shane and Julian of Vegas Confessions Podcast.
Your ticket to ZorkFest includes a reserved seat to Podcasters After Dark. There are options to also upgrade to VIP reserved seats, and VIP table packages with food & beverage. Seats are assigned based on when you purchase your ZorkFest ticket. Purchase early to get the best seats for the podcaster event.
Pricing for ZorkFest with Super Early discount is $200, use code zorkturning for an additional $10 OFF. (not including ZorkAir) To get this price you will need to buy your ticket before March 20th for the best price and ALSO the best seats at Podcasters After Dark.
You can find more information on ZorkAir here. You can find more information on the weekend events and buy tickets at www.zorkfest.com If you are interested in attending you can also book a room at Treasure Island with special rates using this link.