See the 2015 Travel Vanguard 

JetSmarter’s founder Sergey Petrossov says a scrum of start-ups like his are vying to get you—yes, you—onto a private jet. 

headshot_test2How does JetSmarter work?
“Jet charters have been around for a while, but we’ve got the technology to connect you to an entire aircraft of your choosing, check out photos, talk to real humans, and book from the palm of your hand, in real time. That’s new. JetSmarter has a network of 3,200 private aircraft around the world, 2,500 of which might be flying empty at any given time—say, when getting to or returning from a chartered trip. So, we’ve structured these exclusive, crazy, “empty leg” deals. Our members pay an $8,000 annual fee to get access to as many of these empty-leg trips as they can book.”

Is flying private really becoming more affordable?
“Yes, if you imagine the annual fee as a monthly payment (about $700). Normally, chartering a top-tier jet from, say, New York City to Miami would cost between $16,000 and $30,000—get that flight with your annual fee and it’s a pretty amazing deal. Get six friends to join you and chip in, and it becomes so affordable, it’s absurd. If you just book one empty-leg jet a year, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.”

Who’s flying?
“Our goal is to democratize private air travel. Even a lot of wealthy people don’t fly private because they think it’s too expensive. But start-ups like ours are changing that. We had one college kid who broke up his membership fee onto two different credit cards and took eight empty-leg flights. His mind was blown. We’re bringing in people who could never, ever have imagined flying on a private jet.”

How do nonmoguls use JetSmarter?
“People are spontaneous when presented with the opportunity. They’ll take a vacation even if they weren’t planning on it. When we have, say, an empty leg to St. Maarten it’s literally gone within seconds; this happens on a daily basis. People will hop a plane and figure out the details when they get there.”

What is the flight of the future?
“One niche not being filled today is trips less than 500 miles, distances people would typically drive. If done right, flying could cost the equivalent of gas expenses on a car trip. Not to get all sci-fi, but I do think you’ll eventually see small planes arrive vertically in your driveway. Like the Jetsons.” 

Header image by The Voorhes.