Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vacation in Style: How to Score a Private Jet Flight

Written by Laura Chapman

If you've ever dreamed about flying off on holiday aboard your own private jet, your dreams may be about to come true. It’s a fact: flying privately is no longer a privilege reserved for the extremely rich and famous. How is this possible? Surely it costs many thousands of pounds to hire a private jet? Wrong: A seat on a private jet can now cost little more than a seat on a commercial airline.

Private jets in Europe carry an average of just over two passengers per journey, despite the fact that the aircrafts are usually designed to seat between eight and 12 people. Furthermore, 40% of these jets fly completely empty on their return journeys in Europe, and a staggering 60% in the USA. An increasing number of budding entrepreneurs are tapping into this market and setting up companies that offer passengers huge discounts on private flying – through group bookings and through bidding for otherwise empty return legs.

Accessible to “everyday passengers”
One such company in the US is Social Flights. CEO, Jay Deragon, claims that his company makes flying private available to everyday passengers. The Beta-tested site offers its members within the US the option to purchase individual seats on private jets, as opposed to having to hire the entire plane.  The site also offers the charter of a whole plane at an affordable rate by pooling together with other members that are looking to fly to the same locations at the same times.

Social Flights is proving extremely popular; within a few months of its launch, the company already had over 8,400 members. Between them, they access a fleet of more than 500 private jets. Deragon explains that his company gives people the ability and freedom to organize their travel either on their own or with others.

New method of transport
For European flights Victor offers a similar service. The company, run by successful entrepreneur Clive Jackson, offers members of the public almost half a million possible routes. It covers flights between almost a thousand European airports and has access to 200 aircraft. Jackson claims that, as the site grows in popularity, he is able to add increasing numbers of routes to customers. Victor now has over 2,100 members and is growing fast as people get used to the idea of this new and attractive method of transport. It’s easy to see why companies like Victor and Social Flights are becoming so popular. A seat on a flight from Luton to Malaga, for example, is currently being offered for £1,532 through Victor, as opposed to costing around £10,000 if you were to fly solo. It is still considerably more than an economy seat with a more conventional airline, agreed. However, the huge cut in costs makes private jet flying a lot more accessible for people that otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Revolutionizing the travel industry
This new mode of transport is being tipped to revolutionize the travel industry, and it is the power of social media, crowd collaboration and travel technology that is driving it. Both of the above companies depend on interaction and active participation from their members in order to succeed, and both use innovations in travel technology through sites that enable new services. The overall cost of a seat on board a private jet from Victor, for example, depends on how many other people want to fly with you. This therefore encourages the site’s community of members to encourage each other to fly; the more contact you make with other members, the more chance you have of finding other people that will share the cost of the jet with you.

Members can publish posts offering their desired point to point trip or book themselves onto an existing flight and then call on their social network to help fill that plane. In some cases, this activity can see the cost of each seat on the jet fall to below that of many commercial airlines.

So, next time you think about booking that holiday abroad, and you shudder at the thought of airport check-in queues and cramped seats, have a little browse on some of these sites. As more and more companies tap into this trend, these deals are sure to become even more accessible for the masses. Who knows; next time you have your summer holiday you could be enjoying all same luxuries as the rich and famous on board your own private jet.

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