What to Expect When You Fly on Private Jets

Private plane travel is liberating. Here's what to know

Embraer Phenom 300 private jet
••• Embraer Phenom 200 private jet at Teuge Airport in the Netherlands. ©Erik Brouwer/Flickr Creative Commons

The "Flying Private" Jet Experience

Many luxury travelers are on board with Anthony Tivnan when he says, "Flying private jets is better than even first class on commercial flights." Tivnan is president and co-owner of Magellan Jets, a Boston-based private jet charter company.

“I started Magellan to give passengers ultimate flexibility, convenience, and comfort with their flying," he says. "That's what private jet companies can guarantee." Trip planners at all flying-private jet companies walk clients through every aspect of their flights so they get the private plane experience they want and need.

"And with private jets, it's you the passenger, not an airline, who is calling the shots," says Tivnan. Here, he answers my questions (and yours) about the private jet flight experience.

How Do You Know Which Private Jet to Fly?

"Your jet company will consult with you in detail about your flight plan, your needs, your group size, and your baggage. This way you'll be sure to end up with just the right size jet for your needs," says Tivnan.

Do Private Jets Fly Faster?

Private planes fly at about the same speed as commercial jets. But "you often get there sooner because your route may be more direct," says Tivnan. "And you will save a huge amount of on-ground time with private jets' bare-bones check-in and negligible tarmac time."

Private Airport or Commercial Airport?

"Whether you get a better travel experience from a private airport or a commercial airport all depends on your plans," says Tivnan.

Private airport advantages:
• Clients get "ramp access" from their car
• Minimal check-in and security procedures
• You can show up 15 minutes before takeoff!
• No baggage weigh-in or x-raying your bags
• No baggage pickup
• Zero wait time on the tarmac: you take right off
• Often, private airports are closer to your city destination

Commercial airport advantages:
May be closer to your destination, such as Logan Airport in Boston and City Centre Airport in Toronto 
• For passengers, commercial airports are generally easier to findThey may offer high-end lounge or VIP facilities, similar to hotel club lounges 
• Private airports tend to have simple departure lounges

What Will Your Private Jet's Seats & Seating Arrangements Be Like?

"Private jet seats are nearly always cushy, comfortable, leather recliners," says Tivnan. "The seats are modular, and can be modified on most jets. Configuration is highly customizable. Ask for what you'd like."
• So if you want to sleep on your flight, request a jet with seats that recline to at least154º 
• Some planes offer "fill-in mattresses" that form beds out of facing seats
• You can ask for two lavatories and a shower
• You can request an area for chatting and lounging, a presentation, or a poker game

Next: how will you spend your hours in your private jet flight?


Are Private Jet Pilots & Crews More Experienced?

In a way, yes.
Explains Tivnan, "Private jet pilots and crews are attached to specific aircraft. It's their place of work. They know everything about that jet." Private pilots are subject to the same professional standards as commercial pilots.

Are Private Jets Safer?

"Private jets are at least as safe as commercial planes," says Tivnan, "and often more."
• Private planes held to the same air safety and maintenance regulations as commercial jets
• And private jet companies often opt to observe even higher maintenance standards
• Private jet fleets are typically younger than commercial
• In terms of passenger security, you know who and what is aboard your jet

Baggage Restrictions on Private Planes

"There are no baggage restrictions on private planes," says Magellan Jets' Anthony Tivnan.
The only baggage limit is that it has to fit onboard. With smaller aircraft such as Citations, this may be a factor. 

What Can You Pack When You're Flying Private?

Security regulations of commercial aviation do not apply. On a private jet, you can pack or stow almost anything that fits.
• Liquids are OK, all you want, from Champagne to perfume
 Firearms are OK. But first you must unload them and give them to your flight attendant to stow in the hold
• Pets are fine if flying domestically. If not, the destination country's policies apply to pets jetting in on private aircraft
• If the runway is short, very heavy items such as movie equipment or golf clubs may present a weight issue
• As with all aspects of private flight planning, ask in advance

International Customs Procedures for Private Jets

"Customs are definitely streamlined on international private plane flight," says Tivnan. "There are no lines and no red tape. Often, customs and security are over and done with before you know they've taken place!
• Passports will be collected or looked at but may or may not be stamped. "If you want or need your passport to be stamped in, make that request," says Tivnan
• Your Luxury Travel Expert adds: it is a good idea to get your passport stamped to prove that you are, or were, legally in that country
• When you fly internationally to a private airport, you must declare alcohol and so on with customs.

The customs agent decides whether or not you pay the usual duties on what you bring in

Flight Plans (Routing) on Private Jets

Flight plans on private jets are highly customizable, within air-traffic limitations," says Magellan Jets' Anthony Tivnan. "Working in advance with your flight coordinator, you can arrange your ideal flight plan. You can make one stop or hit several on your route."

"You can stop nearly anywhere, for anything, from a few hours to as long as you need," he says. "Your company consultant will let you know when it stops making sense in terms
of time cost."

You Can Customize Your Route When You Fly Private

You can stop where you have to, or want to, for a meeting, event, shopping, dinner, a concert, a game
• Your ground transportation will typically be prearranged, too
• You can stop for passenger pickup
 • Or you can request a great flyover view, such as the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Chicago, or Manhattan (your pilot may or may not be able to make this happen)

Are Private Jet Flight Crews More Experienced?

In a word, yes. "The crew is attached to the jet you get,” says Tivnan. "It will have a pilot, co-pilot, and at least one flight attendant. Passengers may request additional crew or special personnel such as a masseur, secretary, mixologist, etc."

One of the Best Things About Flying Private: Catering, Dining & Drinking

"Inflight dining is the client's call," says Magellan Jets' Anthony Tivnan. "For many passengers, it's something they really have fun with."

Magellan Jets (and other flight charter companies) send passengers extensive menus in advance. Private jet caterers are top-notch, and choices are vast. You'll have options like sushi, steak, gourmet pizza and burgers, lox and bagels, fresh seafood, salads, pasta, you name it. Preferences such as vegetarian or organic menus are accommodated.

Flights can also be catered by restaurants within driving range of your departure airport. Cooking facilities on planes may be limited to reheating, so dishes that travel well are usually best.

Private jets almost always offer a full bar, snacks, and soft drinks.

"The bigger the jet, the bigger the bar," notes Tivnan. And of course many passengers bring their favorite Scotch or wine.

Entertainment on Private Jets

"Inflight entertainment is pre-ordered as well," said Tivnan. "You can make special requests for music, games, live entertainment, poker decks, whatever. Tell your provider what you have in mind."

He adds, "Your jet company will have a movie database, and your jet is likely to have a good-size screen."

Work Facilities on Private Jets

Today's private jets can function as airborne executive suites," says Tivnan. "You can anticipate a satellite flight phone, and fax. Wifi is now standard, but clients should double-check."

Can I Use My Mobile Phone Aboard a Private Jet?

Certainly, if you get a signal. And you should be able to as long as you're not over the middle of an ocean.

What Does Private Jet Flight Cost?

"There are various types of plans for private jet use," says Tivnan. "Some jets are fractionally owned by a number of clients."

But the trend in private jet plans is what Magellan Jets provides: "on-demand" charter use, typically by the hour. You don't pay for time you don’t use or if you change your plans in advance." Jet fuel is included in the rate.

All the same, private jet travel is not cheap. But "it often works out to less than flying commercial first-class," says Tivnan. "And private jets' convenience, comfort, and privacy are in a class by themselves.

"Private jet passengers fly where they want, when you want, along with their families, friends, and pets. And they fly with so much more freedom, convenience, and comfort."
• Read more on Magellan Jets' "on demand" private charter flights
• Check out Magellan Jets' website
• Follow Magellan Jets on Twitter (@MagellanJets)

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