Organising a private jet charter

Published: 23rd February 2011
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Flight delays, crowded boarding areas, damaged or lost luggage, and sardine-sized seats aren't attractive conditions when flying. Fortunately, there's a comfortable and convenient alternative available: private jet charter.

Major advantage

Putting the above hassles and inconveniences aside, the biggest advantage to chartering a private jet is its small size.

Private jets are smaller than mass-transit jumbo jets, and they can easily slip into smaller suburban airports that prohibit standard passenger planes. Suburban airports are usually located closer to common destinations than international airports; therefore, they add layers of convenience.

Of course, using departure and arrival areas that are completely separate from the gate area hubs in major airports, avoiding the drawbacks to larger plane travel, doesn't hurt either.

Basic steps

When making the decision to hire a private jet, following a few steps before signing the charter contract heightens physical and financial safety.

1. Find FAA-authorised charter operators. Know the difference between a charter broker and a charter operator. Charter brokers aren't the equipment owners and operators; they can be likened to travel agents. Work directly with the operators. They can access planes anywhere in the world, just like a broker or travel agent.

FAA directories of authorised operators list location and types of plane. Contact the operator to discuss further details.

2. Verify the charter company's standing. Check the company's safety record and history. While it can seem confusing, three basic areas simplify the process.

FAA documentation: ask for their Air Carrier Certificate, the Part 135 certificate that authorises air taxi status and flying for hire. If there's no certificate, the company is not FAA-authorised to fly charters.

Third party audits: outside agencies such as Aviation Research Group (ARG/US) and Wyvern compile audit results regarding charter companies' safety records, aircraft transactions, and pilot safety records. On-site audits include log books, maintenance records, and other records. Contact the agencies directly for information; the charter companies do not have these records.

Insurance: verify that the company, pilot and plane are properly insured. Verify whether they have passenger coverage, including lost or damaged luggage. Note: charter airline insurance does not prohibit or replace travel insurance that a passenger can purchase.

3. Visit the company. Though not always possible, personal visits enlighten you about overall cleanliness, maintenance status, and customer service.

4. Choose the aircraft. Ensure any photograph presented is current and accurate. Make sure it's of the exact aircraft being chartered, not just a similar one. Take careful note of both the outside and the inside for signs of recent painting or repairs. Also, prior to the flight, obtain a copy of the current insurance policy and verify the type, extent, and applicability of coverage for the exact plane.

5. Check the pilot. Ensure the pilot is licensed for the plane type and size. Check the pilot's experience in the size and type of plane and his or her safety record. Ensure the licence is current and valid.

6. Verify costs. Ensure that all known charges are delineated and that all extras are noted. Some possible charges may not have a set fee prior to flight; make sure solid cost ranges are noted and under what conditions they apply.

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