All Private Jets Are Not Alike

Written by Alex M. Early, CEO of The Early Air Way
October 2nd, 2012

If you’re new to the private jet game, then you may not be familiar with the different types of aircraft available on the market. What are the differences between different aircraft types? Why would anyone pay more to fly Aircraft A than Aircraft B? Do I just need the cheapest plane I can find with enough seats for my party?

These are common questions we encounter with people who are just starting to fly private jets for the first time. When flying commercial flights for example, do you really pay attention to the type of aircraft you’re flying on? Most people don’t. When it comes to private flights however, you absolutely should.

When we deal with first time private jet charterers, we often find that people have expectations of pure opulence; Russian caviar served on fine china, an immaculately new airplane with space to roam about the cabin, a cabin attendant who has your favorite snacks waiting onboard before you arrive, and Cristal champagne and Blue Label scotch flowing abundantly. While this is a scenario that is very possible with private planes, you have to pay for it. Not only are these extra amenities considered extra options, but you also need a plane that is large enough to accommodate these amenities in the first place.

When a first-time charterer contacts us for a flight and requests the “most economical quote,” they’re often presented a quote on something like an Embraer Phenom 100, Lear 35A, Citation Ultra or similar. These are all great airplanes for a very specific purpose. All of these planes are fantastic for safe, fast, reliable, and economic executive transportation. None of these planes are considered opulent, however. None of these planes have a flight attendant, none have a full galley to prepare hot food in, none have space for you to stand in, and the Lear 35A doesn’t even have an enclosed lavatory. These planes are best for the person who values the time saving and convenience benefits of private air travel as opposed to enhanced passenger comfort, luxury, and opulence.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious flight however, a larger airplane is where you need to be. Gulfstream products such as the GIII, GIV, and GV will all offer you a “walk around” cabin, personal cabin attendant, full service galley, large lavatories, solid wood finishings, couches, etc. If you want the benefits of a heavy cabin Gulfstream but also want a brand new airplane, then perhaps a G450 or G550 is what you should be flying. With the full service galley and personal cabin attendant that these planes offer, you can have that custom “gold standard” in-flight service you’ve assimilated with private jet travel.
Aside from opulence and passenger comfort, you should also take speed and range into consideration when selecting an aircraft type. While an entry level Phenom 100 very light jet will be able to fly from Los Angeles to New York, it would need two fuel stops and would be in the air for about 7 hours. If you need fast, non-stop service, you’ll need a larger plane such as a Citation X, Hawker 800XP, etc. Although you’ll be paying extra money for more space that you may or may not need, you’ll also be indirectly paying for more time, as one of those planes will complete the trip up to 3 hours quicker than a light jet.

The next time you’re looking for a private jet flight, you should make it clear to your consultant exactly what you’re hoping to get out of your flight. Generally speaking, one of the three will best describe you:

  1. Looking for the least expensive possible flight. It is okay if the plane is small, not brand new, and takes a little longer to get there.
  2. Looking for fast transportation on a late model aircraft. Fine catering and the ability to walk around the plane are not your primary concern.
  3. Looking for an opulent flight experience with 5 course meals, space to walk around, and a brand new $60 million aircraft.

Not all private jet fliers are the same; luckily there is a large assortment of aircraft types to accommodate many different needs and budgets.