By Cheryl Lock
Why bother with the hassle of regular air travel — with crowded planes, delayed flights and connection woes — when you could summon an airplane with a couple taps or a swipe on your smartphone? It’s an option — if you’ve got the cash.
More and more concierge flight services are popping up around the country, hoping to serve a clientele that has plenty of disposable income, but not so much they could afford to buy their own jet.
Many of these charter services also want to bring the cost of a flight down, by offering empty legs (a return flight to the jet’s base that doesn’t have passengers) and making use of jets otherwise sitting idle at airports. Those with the money to purchase these elite services might begin to consider them a viable alternative to the customary way of flying.
Here are some of the services that will make airport delays a distant memory, as well as with what they offer — and how much you’ll pay for the A-list treatment:
Cost: $3,960 per hour of flight time, depending on the memership level and factors like age of the aircraft, routing, time of year, etc.
How it works: Clients customize their jet membership through the Build-a-Card program, which allows them to choose their jet, the number of hours they’ll need, additional perks and add-ons like complimentary meal options, ground transportation or free aircraft upgrades.
Perks: The Build-a-Card program allows clients to pick and choose which added benefits will best suit their needs, and while membership isn’t required, some may find it useful to reserve use of a jet at a set fee.
Cost: Depends on the flight. No membership fees apply, and private jet prices will vary. For example, a flight for two from Denver’s Centennial Airport to Teterboro in New York for the weekend costs $22,198 for light jet use (plus tax), while a mid-size jet would run around $28,000.
How it works: Download the Skyjet app for free, put in where you want to go, pick your jet and review average market pricing, all before even signing in.
To actually book a trip, click for a quote, which is usually provided within an hour during normal business hours. The quote is sent to your phone where you can review it, plus see photos of the jet, flight times and other information. Press confirm to secure, and pay with Apple Pay or via credit card or wire transfer.
Perks: Skyjet books the entire jet for you, so no one else will be on your flight, and no membership fees means you can use the service as frequently (or infrequently) as you like, with no penalties.
Cost: $2,000 per month
How it works: Beginning Sept. 15, Beacon will offer 18 regularly scheduled flights per day between New York’s Westchester Airport and Boston’s Logan Airport, with seasonal flights to the Hamptons and Nantucket. Members are offered unlimited access to flights with reservations, changes and cancellations made as little as 20 minutes before departure with no additional cost via the Beacon app.
Locations: Year-round services between Boston and New York, plus seasonally in the Hamptons and Nantucket
Perks: Beacon promises to get travelers between New York and Boston two times faster than the Acela express train (the current popular mode of travel between the two cities), and on-site concierge services at your destination are available to help with rental cars, drinks, flowers — whatever customers might need.
Cost: $10,000 to $1,000,000 for privates flights, depending on the journey.
How it works: Simplicity is key with Private Jet Services. Pick up the phone and call them for a completely tailored flight.
Perks: One-on-one customer service with an actual person at the company says all your ideas and concerns will be heard and answered.
Cost: $1,000 initiation, then $1,750 per month for access to limitless flights anywhere the airline flies.
How it works: Membership can be monthly, annual with guest privileges or there are group plans for families and corporations. Customers can book two, four or six flights at a time online.
Locations: California cities including Burbank, Hawthorne, San Carlos, Oakland, Santa Barbara, Carlsbad, Truckee Lake Tahoe, Napa, Monterey, Sacramento and Palm Springs (starting November 5)
Perks: The set-it-and-forget-it pricing of the monthly fee — and the ability to book up to six flights at a time — takes the headache out of figuring out multiple fees for multiple trips for frequent travelers.
Cost: $9,000 yearly membership fee includes wholesale Jet Charter pricing, 24/7 customer support and concierge services, among other thingsThe cost of flights varies. For example, a member flight from Boston to New York on a mid-size jet would cost around $10,200 ($11,900 for a non-member).
How it works: Log on to the JetSmarter app to customize a trip based on destination and aircraft, search for a JetDeal (one-way flights free for members and offered at discounted rates for anyone else) or use the JetShuttle service, which allows travelers to book a single seat on an already scheduled flight in select markets throughout the U.S.
Perks: Members have access to 4,000 free flights each month.
Cost: No membership fees, but agents work on percentage fees depending on the type of flight, airline and destination. Customers work individually with agents to find flights that work for their budgets.
How it works: AirConcierge works with more than 200 airlines to fill airline seat inventories. The airlines sell unsold seats at a discount to AirConcierge, who then turn around and sell them to you.
Perks: 1,500 travel managers specializing in different destinations means you’ll have access to insider info (for example, which airport to skip because it’s currently being renovation, or the best time of year to rent a yurt in Kyrgyzstan, if that’s your passion), and a new fare monitoring tool allows travel managers to immediately spot drops in private and published fares and communicate that directly to the client.
Cost: A fully refundable $25,000 Charter Member account fee waives the Network Access Fee ($950) on your first flight. After the fee, charter members receive a fixed rate pricing of $3,200 for their first hour per day and $2,200 for each additional flight hour; otherwise one-off prices vary.
How it works: Personalized services (and a pay-as-you-fly structure) are available for members who prefer a human touch and more flexibility. One-off flights can also be booked through the ubair app, or shoot for an air taxi charter option for something more affordable.
Locations: Multiple. Check with the company for current offerings.
Perks: Multiple flight types make it easy for users to pick and choose a service that matches their budget.
Cost: Annual memberships (which cost nothing until you book your first flight) are limited. Flight prices vary.
How it works: BlackJet finds empty seats on local private, non-stop flights for customers (private jets can also be requested) — just use their online form or the app. You can book up to a year in advance, and seats are guaranteed when booked more than two business days in advance. Cancelation up to three days prior to a flight is free, as well.
Locations: Most major U.S. cities. Check with company for exact flight routes
Perks: The company touts its ability to find members single seats on private flights, which can save them up to 80% in fees.
Cost: There are no membership fees, and the least expensive destination would be a Eurocopter seat to Fire Island for $395. Season passes allow users to book flights in advance (which can sell out during peak seasons, otherwise). Ten flights will cost you $5,750; 20 are $11,500; 30 are $17,250.
How it works: Crowdsource your own flight (take the seats you need and BLADE will sell the rest for you), or find an empty seat on a helicopter or plane between New York and multiple popular Northeast destinations through the app.
Locations: Flights to the Hamptons, Fire Island, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and the Cape, among others. Check with company for exact routing options
Perks: Private BLADE lounges in New York make flying with the company extra luxurious, and would-be vacationers looking to leave New York on a moment’s notice may find BLADE’s services especially helpful. Flying private is always better than taking the Jitney.