Flying Private Gets More Flexible

It used to be that the only alternative to flying commercially was to pay millions to purchase your own private jet. Now, there are more options and some innovative new ventures that make it easier for infrequent travelers who still want the freedom and flexibility a private jet provides.

Private flight alternatives

Up until recently, there were only a few options for flying privately without owning a jet:

  • Jet chartering, which is popular, but has also proven to be financially inefficient due to empty return flights.
  • Fractional ownership, which is another popular option but still ultimately expensive for the number of flight hours you get when maintenance and fuel costs are factored in.
  • Jet cards, which are used to prepay for a set number of flight hours that can then be used at will.

Each of these options has its drawbacks, but during the recent economic crisis, less expensive alternatives to private flight were necessary. Many jet companies and corporate travelers tried to make the best of a bad situation by coming up with more creative options for flying private. As the industry tries to find ways to make private jet flight economical, we’re seeing a lot of innovation surface. Here are two recently launched ventures attempting to make private flight more flexible.

Brokering empty legs: Fresh Jets

Timmy Wozniak, who previously worked for a guest services company, estimates that 33% of charter jets are vacant for one leg of the flight. That’s why he and business partner Johnny Sengelmann launched Fresh Jets: a service that offers the available seating on empty flight legs to their website’s users.

About 410 companies and more than 1,400 individuals have signed up for the free website’s service so far, and jet operators pay the company a licensing fee to be listed on the site.

Cutting out the middlemen: Returnjet

In another creative move, Mark Blanchfield has launched Returnjet, which lets globetrotters search for and reserve private planes using a website that cuts brokers out of the equation and substantially reduces the cost of chartering a private jet. By connecting people who need to fly with already-scheduled flights, Returnjet helps customers save costs by sharing flights.

Taking advantage of the fact that 40% of private jet flights (an even higher number than the vacant legs on charter flights) are empty, this new UK-based business has already signed up two-thirds of the UK’s private jet operators and gives jet-setting customers more choices.

Despite the state of the economy, travelers still want to fly in private jets. Instead of crushing the private flight business, the economic downturn has spurred innovations that are making private flight more accessible.

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