You don’t have to get kicked off a United Airlines flight to know that commercial plane travel is an ongoing exercise in being disrespected as a customer. That — along with availability of several smartphone booking apps — is making private charters more appealing than ever before.
The concept of an “Uber for private jets” has been around for at least since 2013, when Forbes profiled a startup called Privatefly. Potential benefits were almost too obvious to explain:
So, imagine you’re in Paris with your team and you’re called back home on short notice. Which would you rather do? Two hours of security hell at Charles De Gaulle airport followed by a cramped seat and a stale roll or get whisked straight through to a waiting plane and home?
Privatefly has since expanded to more than 19 countries, but it’s far from the only option. Rather than have a personal assistant spend all their time organizing your travel plans, consider some of the easiest ways to do it yourself.
Urbair: So close in branding to Uber you might not even notice at first, the company has access to more than 7,000 planes and is available in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean. The Financial Post reported: “Like Uber, it even has different levels of service — a recent search of the app for a one-way trip from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport to New York’s La Guardia offered six choices ranging from UbairTaxi (a tiny prop plane for $2,900) to UbairHeavy (a Gulfstream for $21,500). There are no up-front fees or deposits required.
JetSmarter: If you’re in London and want to check out the EU, this may be your best bet. The Telegraph covered the launch: “JetSmarter allows passengers to book flights on a pay-as-you-go basis or offers an annual membership of unlimited travel for $9,000,” the story said.
Eclipse Air Charter: Launched by entrepreneur Yasmin Alam, the company offers flights across a fleet of 1,900 planes to destinations including Toronto to New York, Montreal, Boston, Miami and Ft Lauderdale. According to the company’s launch materials, Eclipse will operate on “a simple pay-as-you-go service with no long-term commitment, initial outlay, membership fee or management charges.”
FlyVictor: Launched in 2015, this U.K. firm was among the early entrants in this space. It was also recently profiled by a site called TechMalek: “The Victor Private Jet Charter iOS app gives users fast and easy access to over 7000 private jets. All the necessary information and customer support are available in just a few taps. Booking, comparing and managing travel are a few of the major features,” it said.
Before long, there will probably even more ways for the humblest among us to join the private jet crowd. As you enjoy that VIP lifestyle, just try to stay grounded.