Yes, private jets are swanky. But if you can spend less money to get an equally luxurious experience in first or business class, why not fly with an airline?
A quick search turns up one-way first class flights from New York to Los Angeles for around $1,000.
The same flight with private jet charter company JetSuite costs over $4,500 per passenger.
That's a lot of money to justify for the added luxury of having no one else around.
To find out what the real benefits to flying private are, we spoke with Steve Cass, Vice President of Communications at private jet maker Gulfstream.
It all comes down to saving time, which means saving money.
Less Time On The Ground
It starts on the way to the airport. Small jets don't need the huge runways and staffs offered by major airports, so they can fly out of smaller spots.
There are many more minor airports than major ones, so you often don't have to travel as far to get to one. And they're less congested, making the experience more pleasant.
You don't have to deal with the TSA or long check-in lines, so you can you arrive at airport minutes, not hours, in advance. That's time, money, and aggravation saved. And when you get off, your bags are thrown right into your car, so there's no time spent at the baggage carousel.
Plus, you fly when you want. Flying commercial, Cass said, "we adjust our schedule to meet the needs of the airline." In the sphere of private aviation, it's the other way around.
A Faster Trip
Private flights aren't tied to the same hub and spoke networks used by airlines, so if your plane has enough fuel capacity to reach your destination, you'll go direct. "That saves a huge amount of time," Cass said.
Private jets are usually designed to climb faster than airliners, so they're above crummy weather sooner. They usually fly faster, too.
Commercial jets cruise around 35,000 feet, smaller jets typically fly higher. That puts them above the traffic, so their routes are more direct — they don't compete with bigger planes for space. The extra flexibility lets the jets capture better winds and avoid adverse weather, too.
Privacy In the Air To Get Work Done
On top of moving faster and wasting less time, it's easier to get work done in the air when you're alone. Even in first or business class, Cass pointed out, it's risky to have confidential conversations, because you don't know who may be around.
He also directed us to a 2009 survey by the National Business Aviation Association. Respondents rated themselves as 20% more productive while on company aircraft than in the office. Their counterparts flying commercial reported a 40% drop in productivity.
So the next time you wonder why companies spend tens of millions to buy their own jets instead of putting employees on commercial fights, know that it's not about creature comforts. It's about saving time and money.