As the world begins to travel again, safety and cleanliness are priorities for anyone about to board an airplane.
Travelers booking a business trip are willing to forego many pre-COVID-19 comforts for assurance their health and safety are protected.
For those planning a family trip, this is non-negotiable.
Certain travelers – admittedly fortunate ones – are evaluating whether private jet travel is worth the additional cost given the new realities of flying.
For many in this group, private air travel may have been on the “someday” list before February; now these travelers are seriously considering private jets, evaluating if the safety and privacy are worth the additional spend.
Here’s how to think about the private vs. commercial decision for yourself.
Private vs commercial: cleanliness & social distancing
Private jet operators consistently state that private jets are easier to keep clean. With fewer surfaces on a smaller aircraft, private planes also average more time on the ground, allowing more time to clean them between flights.
Private jet charter operator Globe Air’s recent study found that time in airport terminals and on board a commercial airplane leads to approximately 270 possible person-to-person interactions. When flying private, there are fewer than 20 similar person-to-person interactions.
Of course, private planes are smaller but with dramatically fewer people on board – in reality, it’s just your traveling party and the flight crew – social distancing is simply easier. Private airports also involve far fewer people.
But it’s important to realize that commercial air travel is different following the start of COVID-19 — at least for the time being.
Flights and airports are less crowded, and many commercial airlines are ensuring passengers are separated on board. Some airlines give travelers the option to rebook if a flight is over 70% full.
Some commercial airlines are also cleaning aircraft with hospital-grade disinfectant and electrostatic spraying technology between every flight.
So the private vs commercial decision really comes down to what you’re willing to pay for: flying private almost guarantees an experience where you can social distance on board. Commercial is less predictable.
But it’s important to know that all travel involves risk – especially during the ongoing pandemic.
How much does it really cost?
Like everything, it depends.
CNBC shares two reference price points, noting that private charter flights have come down in price this year (data from Avinode):
Last year, chartering a midsize private jet from New York to Miami (one way), cost approximately $20,000. This year, it costs around $10,000.
Last year, flying one-way from New York to Los Angeles on a Gulfstream IV cost about $30,000. This year, it costs around $24,000.
Costs appear substantially higher than commercial first or business class, but if youfly with a party of 8 or more, the per-person cost begins to approach that of commercial premium cabins.
What’s the most appropriate starting point for private jet travel?
A single, on-demand charter flight is how most first-time private jet bookers begin. Delta Private Jets, evoJets, and Magellan Jets are three well-known providers of on-demand charters.
Companies like NetJets provide fractional jet ownership which is a more significant commitment.