Perhaps the biggest reason keeping most people away from charter flights is the cost. And it’s true: most of the time, private flights come with a higher price tag compared to airlines. There are, however, situations wherein hiring a plane makes more financial sense than buying airline seats.
Getting deals on empty flights
As many as 40% of private flights are without passengers on board; this is typically the case for a plane repositioning to another airport after bringing its passenger to a destination. To avoid being wasteful, some charter companies offer these flights at discounted rates to people who happen to be going the same route. Some of these empty leg flights can go for as low as $500 per plane for four passengers – an astonishing $125 per person.
Of course, the drawback to this is that it’s not a reliable option if you want to go on particular dates. However, for those with an open schedule, and the diligence to scour flight aggregator websites and watch for announcements from charter companies, there could be some amazing deals in store.
Flying as a group first class
One situation in which it might be more cost-effective to opt for a charter flight rather than a commercial flight is if you’re flying as a group, and would have all bought first-class tickets otherwise. This is because when you fly on a jet charter, you’re paying for the plane, not the seats. A mid-size jet that you hire for, say, $3000 per hour will be at that rate whether you’re alone or with seven of your friends, whereas you’d have to multiply the first-class price by however many you are in the group.
Flight availability and flexibility
One aspect that many people may fail to take into consideration when comparing the costs of jet charters to public airlines is the scheduling flexibility that private flight allows. For some passengers, this aspect alone can offset the higher price of a charter flight.
Take, for instance, the situation of a businessperson, artist, or professional on a tight schedule. Depending on the destinations, commercial flights may not always be possible on the dates they need; they would have to build their schedule to conform with the flight availability. This could mean anything from lost productivity in their business, to a missed gig or event. The missed opportunity for their business or career could be far more costly than the price of a charter flight. Furthermore, in cases where a person or group has to stay overnight or longer at their destination just to wait for the next available return flight, the costs of food and hotel rooms can quickly pile up.
Charter flights can also make multiple stops without hassle; if you need to stop at a city to pick someone or something up before heading to your main destination, that can be done with ease. With commercial airlines, this isn’t always possible (and if it is, it will likely be expensive and inconvenient).