How to Book a Private Jet (on a Budget)

Fly like a jetsetter: These businesses connect regular travelers with private jets and helicopters at prices that are surprisingly reasonable.

It’s not hard to imagine, for most people, jet-setting to distant locations while enjoying a strong drink. What is intolerable, though, is the thought of paying the price tag associated with private air travel.

WhereTraveler put together this list of A-line travel solutions for the budget-savvy traveler looking to for luxury travel experiences.

Paying Per Flight

There are dozens of online companies with which you can book a personal jet. There are only some of those, though, that are right for the budget-savvy traveler.

If you’re flush enough that you can afford last-minute flight plans but still want to budget travel, get three to five of your friends to go in on a “suite deal,” with you, offered by Jetsuite.

This private jet booking site allows patrons to fly all over the U.S. in private jets and has the special “suite deals,” offer on day-of flights for four to six people on one jet to one location.

This means that you can fly short distance for under $200, and even long distances for a one-way flight, per person, under $500. With leg room and cocktails, $500 doesn’t sound that bad at all.

Want a little more flexibility with your booking?

JetMe is a small Internet company that has a big database. The company manages a listing of private jets for hire with an interesting twist; "name your price."

It’s true: You put in your starting and ending location, along with a few other facts, and JetMe gives you a price range that you can bid within for a flight, while rating the likelihood that you’ll find what you’re looking for at the bid you’re about to submit.

If you’re bid is accepted, up you go. You pay, per flight, after take off.

Experience All-You-Can-Fly

There are loads of membership-based flight programs, and that doesn’t exclude private jet companies.

If you’re hailing out of the Northeast and plan to fly between New York, the Hamptons, Boston and Nantucket several times a year, sign up for Beacon.

This new up-start connects travelers, for a $2,000-per-month membership, to seats on exclusive flights. With personal—add a member to your plan for only $1,250 each month—or corporate plans, Beacon has perks and privileges for all fliers.

When living on the West Coast, dive into SurfAir. With a similar business model to Beacon's, SurfAir connects patrons to several cities in California for the slick price of a $1750 per month, all-you-can-travel membership. SurfAir offers some flights out of California, but works with other airlines to get you back into the state, as SurfAir only flies in California.

a dinner laid out for two on a private plane

Dropping It Low: Do the Empty Leg

Nope, it's not a crazy '90s dance move.

"Empty leg,” flight deals are rising in popularity because of the ability to drop flight prices down below even the almost-commercial flight costs. 

This is an industry term for an empty jet, flying into or out of a location where a previously booked patrons awaits a ride or a drop-off.

Victor, one of the first online jet-booking companies to offer this service, totes that it offers these flights at “75 percent …compared with standard jet charters.” Not a bad deal for you when it helps the company front the cost of the fuel.

While it's a relatively last-minute travel solution, there's that saying about, “one man’s loss is another man’s gain." While the company is taking a loss on a low-cost jet seat, travelers can reap massive flight benefits in this jet-chartering game.

LunaJets offers a similar program, with empty-leg flight from €100 to €98500, depending on the flight length and the aircraft. 

Finally, in empty-leg charter travel, there’s the hybrid program we love from JetSmarter. JetSmarter is a clever company that’s part membership program and part budget-conscious, empty-leg flights. The company offers hundreds of these flights to members for a little over $700 per month membership. 

The perks of JetSmarter over a lot of the competitors is that once you’re a member, you get seats for free. There aren’t any hidden costs or extra prices that are associated with the flights. You open the JetSmarter app and you book any flight that's offered as many times a month as you want.

Beside these perks, your JetSmarter membership also affords you a 24 karat gold-plated membership card—good for whipping out in front of all your friends—along with free helicopter rides to and from New York airports. As in, you get on a helicopter that takes you to your flight for free

Not a Bird, Not a Plane

Speaking of helicopter rentals, there are now apps for that.

Blade, an aviation company in the Northeast hooks patrons up with short-distance flights to locations on Martha’s Vineyard, Fire Island and the Hamptons. That doesn’t include flights to New York airports.

What if your flight gets grounded from weather while riding Blade? No worries. A Mercedes-Benz, through luxurious business partnership, will pick you up and whisk you off to your destination.

Gotham Air is a similar company that boasts Rolls Royce engines, “289% Larger Windows,” and a 35-minute ride from New York City to East Hampton.