You want to go to Europe but hear stories about waiting for hours at immigration or missing flights because airline personnel can’t keep track of the ever-changing rules and regulations that vary by country. This could be the year to fly by private jet to Europe. It’s not cheap, but you’ll get where you want to go, in style – and without the worries and hassles of crowded airports and snaking lines.
While you can call any charter broker and just get a quote, most private jets for rent are managed jets. Their owners let their management companies charter their aircraft out when they aren’t using them. That means after their jet flies you to Europe, it has to come back to its base – where its owner lives. You are paying for the flight across the pond and the cost to fly it back empty. You may also find when you book charter flights on a one-off basis, they don’t permit cancelation or changes.
So, what’s the best way to fly privately to Europe this summer?
A number of jet card providers are offering fixed one-way rates for flights between the United States and Europe with guaranteed availability. In some cases, you only need a few days’ notice as part of their jet membership programs. One-way pricing in private jet speak means you only pay for the time when you are flying in the jet, not the repositioning flights. Guaranteed availability means once you sign up, the contracted price is yours, so long as you book a stipulated number of days in advance. In other words, you know what you are going to pay, and you know you are going to be able to get it!
Who’s offering private jet deals to Europe?
Sentient Jet, one of the most prominent players in the jet card segment, launched fixed pricing to Europe in May on a seasonal basis. It proved so popular, they’ve now extended it permanently. Flights are priced at set rates, starting at $79,750 each way. Once you get there, there are fixed rates on an hourly basis to fly throughout Europe. As part of the latest announcement, they’ve added Tel Aviv, Moscow and St. Petersburg. While the rates are only available for members, you can join for just under $150,000.
Air Partner, Executive Jet Management, which is owned by NetJets, JetSet Group and Private Jet Services Group, each offer fixed one-way rates between the U.S. and Europe. Programs start at $11,250 per hour and a deposit of $100,000. If you are thinking about going for a long weekend, you can get even better deals since they can fly you back home on the same aircraft. Roundtrip rates start at $8,410 per hour, according to Private Jet Card Comparisons’ database of jet card pricing.
With jet card programs, providers offer service recovery. That means if your flight is canceled because of a mechanical or the pilot gets sick, they get you a replacement aircraft at no additional cost. When you charter on a flight-by-flight basis, you get a requote, which on short notice can be significantly more expensive. While you can get a refund, that doesn’t help if you have non-refundable hotel reservations.
In terms of looking for the best deals, it’s also worth checking out VistaJet and Qatar Executive, a subsidiary of Qatar Airways. Both operate floating fleets, meaning their jets don’t return to base after each flight. Instead, they roam around the world, picking up and dropping off customers. Earlier this year, VistaJet added cancelation insurance in case your plans change.
Another option is empty leg flights. These are the repositioning flights based on somebody else’s travel plans, so if their plans change, those flights can be canceled. Still, you might be able to fly for as little as $50,000 each way. The FlyEasy website is a feed of repositioning flights brokers use, but you can too. You just sign up for a free account, look at the interactive map, and then contact the operator. Many of the flights have a window that can be up to a week, meaning they have to get the aircraft to or from Europe during that period. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you don’t see flights leaving from your city. For example, if you see an empty leg from New York to London and you are in Boston, the operator is often willing to stop and pick you up.
The aircraft for transatlantic flights typically seat between 10 and 16 passengers, although that means filling every spot, which can include two three-person couches. If you think about $160,000 divided by a more comfortable eight passengers, it works out to $20,000 per person. If that sounds steep, consider flying privately on your way over and then going commercially on the way back.
Doug Gollan is the founder and editor-in-chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer’s guide that helps consumers find the best private aviation solutions.
Photography by: Jakob Rosen/Unsplash