The Ascent of Private Jet Travel
Arguably, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on all segments of the travel industry – with one exception: private jet companies.
“We have observed a drastic increase in our business year over year – 300 percent increase in the second quarter of 2020 and 400 percent in the third quarter,” said Glenn Gonzales, co-founder and CEO of Jet It .
Similarly, Air Charter Service reported a 75 percent increase in inquiries in May and June 2020 over the same period last year.
“With the current pandemic, those who normally travel in first-class commercially are elevating their experience with personal well-being in mind, especially for older clients who have more health concerns,” said the company’s president, Richard Thompson.
Other industry segments are working toward capitalizing on the increasing popularity of private jet travel, as well.
For starters, Ovation Travel Group unveiled Ovation Aviation, a private jet charter program; Aman , the ultra-luxury hotel brand, debuted its own private jet – a Bombardier Global 5000; Zadun, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in San Jose del Cabo, partnered with Private Jetaway, which offers jet-to-villa packages; and Round Hill Hotel & Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica, aligned with evoJets to provide exclusive packages.
For their part, travel advisors said they are seeing an increase in client interest about flying private.
“There is an uptick, as some clients do not want to fly commercial now,” said Jeff Traugot of Traugot Travel, Inc., a Travel Experts affiliate, adding that working with private jet companies is far from difficult. “To me, it is about the person/contact at the company that makes it easy. Net fares are quoted and the profit or commission is added on top of it as the total price quoted to the client.”
Lisa Prosser of Chartwell Luxury Travel, a Travel Experts affiliate, said she too, has seen an increase in client interest regarding private jet travel.
The agency has been selling private jet travel for approximately seven years and coordinates transfers from fixed-based operators FBOs (private jet terminals) to villas and luxury resorts.
“There have also been occasions to coordinate transfers from the FBO to the commercial airport for flights out of the country,” Prosser said. “An example would be private jet from the FBO in Indianapolis to Detroit and then a transfer from the FBO in Detroit to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport for a flight to London. We also arrange the catering on board for the clients.”
Although Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen hasn’t witnessed an increase of clients willing to pay for private jet transportation as a means of avoiding flying commercially, he said he is “seeing a business uptick in the number of our guests who are choosing to tour with a company that includes group transportation by private jet, [which] spreads out the cost more efficiently and seems, to many, more worthwhile.”
Turen’s particular favorite at the moment is Aman packages designed by Remote Lands. “An above-average private jet, a small group and an Aman resort waiting at the destination – it is an attractive, no-hassle, luxe experience for those wishing to avoid crowds.”
Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel, an affiliate of Signature Travel Network, said she has spoken with several clients about the prospect of booking private jet resort packages none have yet to come to fruition.
“The important challenge is that some resorts offering private jet service are in locations that require a quarantine period based on where guests originated,” she said. “So far the clients who have asked declined to book because of the quarantine or, in one instance, dates were not available.”
Schoeder has, however, sold private jet travel to clients. “A couple clients prefer private but often have mixed it with commercial,” she said. “Now those clients are flying strictly private right now – but are only traveling domestically. They are not sure yet what they will do when they are able to travel internationally again.”
She has also brought up the prospect of private jet travel to clients who have the means to do so. “I have also mentioned it to a group of adults who travel together domestically several times a year. They are looking at it for a late 2020 trip,” Schoeder said. “They travel first class and always book five-star hotels, so I am presenting a private jet as a great option for them.”
Turen also suggests private jet travel, depending on “the circumstances, routing, and number of people in the group,” he said. “I have to justify the expense to myself first before recommending it to our guests. My general rule is that six or more traveling in the front of the plane justifies a comparison with private jet alternatives.”