MIAMI, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - Private jet flights are reaching record levels with no letup in sight, according to business aviation flight tracking services Argus TraqPak and WingX.
In second-home destinations, private jet flights are running 50% higher than pre-covid numbers. This surge in demand, combined with similar parts and labor shortages impacting the greater economy, is leading to delays and service issues for private jet charter and jet card companies.
“While many of the problems are beyond the providers' control, the spike in demand is putting historic stress on the system,” says Doug Gollan, Editor-in-Chief of private aviation solutions buyer’s guide Private Jet Card Comparisons.
A recent survey of Private Jet Card Comparisons’ subscribers found nearly 20% experienced service issues in recent months. Still, 69% of current private aviation users expect to fly more post-covid than before the pandemic, with 28% saying they expect to fly privately at similar levels. Only 3% said they would be making fewer private flights in a post-covid world.
To help private flyers navigate the new normal and minimize disruptions, Private Jet Card Comparisons is advising easy ways to minimize disruptions.
Tips for private jet travelers include:
- Book as far in advance as possible – This helps your provider procure the best aircraft for your flight and arrange a back-up if there is a mechanical.
- With on-demand charter, before you sign the contract, ask your broker what type of volume they have with that operator. Charter operators tend to take care of their best customers first.
- With jet cards, stay away from peak days. In addition to surcharges, programs can move your departure time by up to six hours in either direction.
- Avoid flying when demand is highest, typically Thursdays to Sundays.
- Be accurate about the amount of luggage and pets when you book as this impacts the type of aircraft you will need.
- In secondary markets, fewer local caterers are serving private aviation. Find out who is doing the catering for your departure airport and if they have experience in private aviation catering before you order.
- Limit catering special requests for specific brands of juices or boutique waters, etc.
- Book ground transportation at the time you book your flights. (If you couldn’t find suitable ground transportation, chances are your provider won’t be any more successful.)
- Track your inbound aircraft for delays.
- Reconfirm with your provider before you head to the airport.
- Have the FBO's phone number in case you get lost. Passenger entrances at private jet terminals can sometimes be hard to find.
- Arrive at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure.
- Pack some patience and enjoy!
Gollan says one current issue with on-demand charters - booking your flights on a trip-by-trip basis - is having the charter operator cancel your flight at the last minute.
“During peak periods, there is a shortage of aircraft, so if an airplane slotted for a big customer has a mechanical issue, the operator may pull the airplane from an infrequent client. While brokers boast about having access to thousands of jets, make sure they are booking you with an operator they use frequently,” Gollan advises.
He continues, “Some issues like Air Traffic Control delays can’t be avoided, however, giving your provider accurate information about how much luggage you have, and types of pets can save delays at the airport. Some private jets have limited space for baggage, while each operator sets its own policy regarding transporting pets and then files it with the FAA. Your provider is securing an aircraft and operator based on the specifications you give them at booking.”