Fly Savvy: 5 Things To Know About Using Private Aviation
Discerning travelers have discovered that access to a private aircraft is like having the keys to a sophisticated time machine.
“We provide one of the only things that successful individuals and corporations can’t buy anywhere else, and that’s time,” says Gregg Slow, XOJET’s Executive Vice President of Sales & Client Services. “Time for their families and their personal lives, or time for business productivity and their professional lives.”
The market offers those considering flying private a diverse set of options, from on-demand charters to pre-purchasing an allotment of flight hours (jet cards) to owning a fraction of an aircraft (fractional). (Read our guide to the differences between each model).
We asked Slow to share his advice on what you need to know about using private aviation and selecting the right model for you. Here are his top five tips for flying savvy.
1. Do your homework
As with any substantial purchase, taking the time to educate yourself and do your due diligence is critical in making the right private aviation decision. Talk to the top three to five owner-operated private aviation companies to define their strengths and weaknesses and determine how those strengths and weaknesses fit with your specific aviation needs.
To understand your air travel requirements, you’ll also need to be informed about the benefits and limitations of private aviation. Aviation is highly regulated and involves complex logistics, whether flying commercial or private. Weather conditions, wind, mountainous terrain, passenger load and baggage load, for instance, all can impact the range and performance an aircraft can deliver. And though private aviation is much more flexible and convenient than commercial flights, understand that you’ll still be susceptible to weather or air traffic control (ATC) delays, congestion during peak periods, and mechanical issues.
You’ll also need to be realistic about the cost of private aviation. While XOJET’s on-demand model is known for its flexibility, control, and overall value, flying private is not inexpensive.
“There’s always a program that can be tailored to an individual’s needs if they look hard enough,” Slow says. “Perhaps the only time private aviation is not a good fit is for the individual who is unprepared for the cost. Flying private is expensive and it will be for the foreseeable future. If you’re looking for a discount at 40,000 feet, fly commercial.”
2. Make safety a priority
Before doing business with a private aviation company, do your research to ensure that your safety will always be their top priority. Find out if they have a safety management system (SMS) and if safety is embedded in the culture, mindset, and ethos of the company. Learn about the company’s safety rating, the airplane you’ll be flying on, and your pilots, including their training, their continued training, their total hours flown, and their experience specific to total hours flown in the specific aircraft type.
“A big misconception in this industry is that the age of the airplane determines the safety of the airplane,” Slow says. “The age of an airplane has nothing to do with safety. Safety of an airplane starts and ends with the two pilots up front.”
3. Find a trusted advisor
An advisor who gets to know your individual needs can guide you through the most pertinent aviation solutions available on the market. You’re looking for someone who builds a deep, intuitive relationship with you so that they can provide personalized advice and anticipate your needs.
All XOJET clients are assigned their own Private Aviation Advisor who can tailor solutions specifically for you, without locking you into options you neither want nor need. In addition to helping customize the best program for you, an XOJET Aviation Advisor is always on the client’s side, coordinating with operations, scheduling, and maintenance to ensure every flight experience goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
“I’m proud to say that my relationships with clients are so personal that I consider many of them family,” Slow says, “and I know that’s how our more than 40 Aviation Advisors across the country feel, too. Spending the time to get to know our clients has resulted in over 70 percent of our business coming from referrals—customers who trust our advice and appreciate our high level of service.”
4. Don’t overbuy
If you’re new to flying private, dip your feet in the shallow end before diving headfirst in the deep end. You can always move up the private aviation spectrum, so it never makes sense to overbuy.
“You can always move into larger airplanes, you can move into longer term contractual agreements, and you can always eventually move into full aircraft ownership if that’s what really works for you,” Slow warns. “Find a program that allows you to try before you buy. That might be a short-term trial or it might be a one-flight trial.”
Also, consider whether you really need the ability to book your flights with a 12-hour response time or make last-minute changes cancellations to your trips. Do you need unlimited catering? If you don’t use those features, don’t pay a premium for a program that offers them.
5. Realize one size does not fit all
In aviation, one size fits all means being stuck with the same size aircraft regardless of the distance you’re traveling and how many passengers you have. It can also mean being locked into a long-term contract to fly a certain number of hours per year even if your needs change. View your private aviation flying like an investment portfolio, by determining which solutions are best for each of your specific needs.
“Don’t go with just one sole-source provider unless that sole-source provider can fit all your needs,” Slow advises.
For example, XOJET is both an owner-operator (of North America’s largest fleet of Citation X and Challenger 300 super mid-size jets) and an enterprise broker (for an additional 1,300 aircraft of varying sizes through our industry-leading Preferred Partner Network). By single-sourcing the best plane at the best price on a per mission basis, clients can access the most appropriate aircraft for each trip, thereby maximizing efficiency and economics. XOJET also offers three membership tiers that can be tailored to meet your needs, whether you fly occasionally, consistently, or frequently.
To learn more about XOJET and discover the right private aviation solution for you, contact one of our dedicated Aviation Advisors by calling 877-599-6538.
Written by Melinda Schnyder