There are slightly more than 15,000 airports and airfields spread across the United States. Of these, only 5,000 are accessible to small, medium or large jets. However, commercial airlines that operate within the contiguous United States only use 550 of these airports.
Additionally, most airlines use a hub and spoke strategy to transport passengers from origin to destination. For private jets however, you can go into any one of those 5,000 airports and you can do it as the bird flies – meaning you can go there directly. All this saves a lot of time.
Private jet charters are priced out by the hour. The hourly price, based on the aircraft, is usually derived from a few factors such as fuel consumption, average wear and tear, and the depreciation of the aircraft. Prices can vary from $1500 per hour to $9,000 per hour.
On average, something like the Citation Mustang which is classified as a light jet, seats 5 comfortably, can go from New York’s West Chester airport (HPN) to Boston’s New Bedford airport (EWB) in 30 minutes (flight time). Between the time it takes to start up, taxi, take off, and all the other phases of a flight, you can safely figure that it would total up to about $2000 for the entire flight.
For five passengers, you and your family, or you and your colleagues, perhaps, that’s approximately $400 per person for a one way trip. That same route, if you go with one of the commercial carriers, averages around $480 per one way ticket.
In this scenario, the private jet charter turns out to be cheaper than the commercial flight.
If you look at something in mid-range, something like a Challenger 604 that seats 19, and travels almost 525 mph with a range extending from New York to San Francisco, it will cost an average of $5500 per hour.
In a Challenger, fully loaded, with average prevailing headwinds coming from the west, it would take the aircraft just over 5 hours to complete the trip from New York to San Fransisco, without any stop overs. In total it would be roughly 6 hours on the clock which would cost a total of $40,000 including landing fees, parking and so on. If you had the plane filled with 15 people that would be $2,667 per person. A commercial flight on first class would cost between $1,300 and $2,000.
Once you add up all the inconveniences of flying commercial routes, and comparing the price difference, one begins to appreciate the value and the utility of flying private jets. Charter flights can access all the 5,000 airports around the country, which means travelers will get closer to their actual destination instead of heading to the ‘nearest’ major airport then getting a rented car to drive the rest of the way. Travel between two locations, is almost always a straight line, which is a significant savings in time.
And if there are more than a few of you traveling, the total cost, is not as high as one would think. Besides, there is no need for body scans or pat downs, and there is almost no need to wait in line. That alone is worth the premium in price.