Private air charter refers to the practice of renting an entire aircraft as opposed to just buying a seat. It used to be that this mode of travel was only for the super wealthy and famous. This glamorous scenario has changed somewhat, but it is still a very expensive way to get where you are going.
If you can ignore the price, the advantages of chartering a plane are many. Travel is scheduled around an individual itinerary. It is useful for transporting a group of individuals according to schedules that may not mesh with commercial airline timetables and there is less downtime hanging around airports. It can be extremely exclusive and quiet. And it can be vital when urgent or time sensitive cargo is involved.
Still this kind of air travel can require a substantial upfront investment. Some companies sell the traveler what amounts to fractional ownership of the aircraft in return for anytime flying privileges. Others employ debit card programs whereby a certain amount of flying hours is purchased and then used up over a limited period of time.
Other companies act as brokers or middleman, connecting the traveler with any potential flights in the region of travel. Some of these networks can be useful for finding the best price possible for an individual flight segment.
Many private charter flights are one way with the aircraft flying empty on its return voyage. These are referred to as deadhead flights within the industry. A broker network will try to schedule travelers on these otherwise empty flights at what can turn out to be considerable savings.
All charter flight companies must follow safety and security procedures according to the regulatory bodies in their region. Planes are carefully maintained and pilots screened and trained to the highest standard. Many pilots have experience with commercial airlines or the military but choose to fly privately for the same reasons their passengers do. They may also be better paid than the average commercial pilot. In addition, most private fleets have their own plane maintenance and safety programs that can be even more stringent than those prescribed by law.
The luxurious add on can be another big advantage to flying personal charter. Most companies will arrange for a limo or cab and driver for pickup or onward travel. Many have incentive programs with luxury items and/or flying time being offered for loyal customers. And many companies offer on-board catering or concierge service and other amenities to make this type of travel even more attractive.
According to some business analysts, private air travel may be the future of aviation for frequent fliers. Without the hassle of airport congestion and wait times, without the stress and inconvenience of security procedures that are becoming increasingly invasive, private air travel looks better and better. When you add in the benefits that accrue from the opening up of a more competitive market, private air charter looks more and more affordable and enticing. Think about this the next time you spend an hour in line for security or get bumped from an overbooked flight.
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