How Much Does Flying on a Private Jet Actually Cost? (It Might Surprise You)
For those who would rather fly private, there are ample ways to charter a private jet or to purchase individual seats on a private flight. And the cost varies more than most travelers probably realize.
The convenience of flying private became abundantly clear to fans of the hit HBO show Succession as we watched the Roys zip off to exclusive retreats and far-flung business meetings in a matter of hours. That level of ease of travel at a time when flying commercial has become fraught with long airport lines and cascades of cancellations and delays may have some travelers wondering, how much does flying on a private jet cost, really?
It costs anywhere between $2 million and upwards of $100 million to buy a new private jet, and it costs between $1,300 and $13,000 per flying hour to charter a private jet, depending on the size and capacity of the airplane, according to private jet charter company Air Charter Service.
“For many, private travel is something they tried in the pandemic and a luxury they’re not willing to give up now,” global luxury travel agency consortium Virtuoso reported in a recent survey of travel advisors released in August 2023.
According to Virtuoso, now more than ever high-net-worth travelers are seeking privacy and personalization as they plan upcoming trips. “Private aviation is climbing in popularity for domestic and shorter international flights,” the luxury travel network noted.
Not surprisingly, several private jet charter companies and luxury resort and villa properties have partnered to offer travelers just that: private flight service directly to an exclusive villa or resort destination.
For instance, for $148,000 per person, you can fly on a two-week private jet itinerary hosted by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts with stops in Greece, Egypt, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, and South Africa. The 13-day African Wonders journey takes place on the Four Seasons private jet, and guests stay at Four Seasons luxury properties globally. Four Seasons currently hosts numerous other private jet journeys each year.
How much does it cost to buy a private jet?
You could, of course, go all out and buy a private jet. Depending on the age, make, and model, private jets cost anywhere between $500,000 for an older used model, to upwards of $100 million for a state-of-the-art private jet with all the bells and whistles. Add to that how much it costs to operate and maintain the aircraft, which can be up to several million dollars per year, and we’re looking at quite the investment.
Dream quashed? Not necessarily. From private jet charter services to companies that sell individual seats on private planes, private jet travel is more accessible than you might think.
How much does it cost to charter a private jet?
According to private jet charter company Air Charter Service, you can expect to pay between between $1,300 and $13,000 per flying hour to charter a private jet, depending on the size of the aircraft. It typically costs between $1,300 and $3,000 per flying hour to charter a turboprop or smaller jet plane, which seats 4 to 6 passengers; between $4,000 and $8,000 per flying hour for a midsize jet, which typically accommodates up to 9 passengers; and between $8,600 and $13,000 per flying hour for larger private jets, which usually seat from 14 to 19 passengers. You can see how that translates into a cross-country flight below.
The cost for a six-hour cross-country private jet charter flight
|Type of Private Jet||Number of Passengers||Cost|
|Turboprop or smaller||4-6||$7,800 to $18,000|
|Midsize||Up to 9||$24,000 to $48,000|
|Larger||14-19||$51,600 to $78,000|
How much does it cost to book a seat on a semi-private jet?
Because passengers are not chartering the entire aircraft the way they would when booking a private jet, the cost to book a seat on a semi-private jet ranges from as little as $209 one-way with semi-private carrier JSX to $1,800 one-way with high-end airline Aero.
Which companies offer semi-private flights?
A growing number of companies are offering travelers the ability to book a single seat, similar to how you would on a commercial flight, on a public charter private jet flight or a semi-private jet. They include:
- Aero: Launched in 2020, the semi-private, luxury airline Aero offers one-way flights from Dallas to Aspen starting at $1,000, one-way flights from Los Angeles to Los Cabos starting at $1,800, and one-way flights from London to Nice starting at $1,600. Prices include one checked luggage and one carry-on. Aero flies from Aspen, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Las Vegas; L.A.; Los Cabos, Mexico; San Francisco; and Sun Valley, Idaho. It also flies between some European hubs, including London; Nice, France; and Ibiza, Spain.
- Blade: A helicopter and semi-private flight service, Blade mainly operates flights from New York City to Palm Beach and Miami, Florida; it also offers helicopter service from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark International Airport. One-way flights to Palm Beach start at $1,250.
- JSX: Formerly JetSuiteX, JSX is by far one of the most affordable options for semi-private travel, with one-way fares starting as low as $209 on 30-seat Embraer E135 planes, which includes up to two checked bags as well as snacks and drinks on board. JSX connects several California hubs, including Burbank, Concord, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange County, Oakland, and San Diego. The airline also flies to Austin, Dallas, Denver, Gunnison/Crested Butte (Colorado), Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, Reno-Tahoe, Taos (New Mexico), and Westchester County in New York. JSX planes are outfitted with cushy leather seats and Starlink Wi-Fi.
- Surf Air: Surf Air is a jet membership service that includes both scheduled semi-private flights (such as JSX flights) and on-demand jet service. The semi-private scheduled flights operate from Truckee, San Carlos, Santa Barbara, and Hawthorne in California, and the on-demand flights can be booked to and from hundreds of hubs all across the United States. Memberships range from $199 per month to access the inventory then pay per flight to $2,500 per month to unlock an unlimited flight plan.
- Tradewind Aviation: The Oxford, Connecticut–based Tradewind Aviation operates on-demand and scheduled flights throughout the United States and Caribbean. Scheduled service includes flights to and from Westchester County in New York; Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island. Tradewind also flies between the Caribbean destinations of Anguilla, Antigua, San Juan, St. Bart’s, and St. Thomas. Flights run anywhere from $300 to hop between Caribbean islands to an opening rate of $395 to fly to Nantucket from Westchester. The aircraft fly out of private air terminals and flights include onboard refreshments.
There’s a private jet app for that
There are also several private jet startups that are based on a sharing economy-style model for booking private jets. One of them is XO, an app that allows passengers to book a private charter, a shared charter, or book seats on an available private flight. XO has two styles of payments, a membership fee model and a pay-as-you-go model. Memberships range from $595 per year, which allows you to skip the $395-per-flight service fee that applies to individual private flight bookings, or you can pay a $395 fee for a seat and add to that a $995 trip cost. For $995 per year, you can access the XO Reserve membership with a minimum $250,000 deposit that includes set hourly private charter pricing and no added fees.
Private jet app UberJets also helps users find and book charter aircraft. It doesn’t own or operate a fleet of aircraft and simply serves as a booking tool.
What is an empty leg deal?
An empty leg is a nonrevenue repositioning private jet flight—a private jet that has dropped passengers off on a one-way leg and would otherwise return to its home base empty. Because these are noncommissioned flights, they can often be accessed at a much lower price than a standard private jet flight as operators are happy to recuperate any of the costs and sell the flight for a deal—well, a deal for an entire private jet.
What is a private jet card membership and how does it work?
A common way to access private jet service is through a private jet card membership. You pay a fee upfront—typically in the range of $100,000 to $200,000, according to Private Jet Card Comparisons, a site that allows users to compare the different programs available. Then private jet flights will be deducted from your initial deposit, typically at a set cost per hour. Hourly rates range from about $2,000 to $4,000 for a turboprop or smaller private jet up to $20,000 or more for a midsize or larger private jet that can fly longer-haul journeys.
“A jet card refers to debit card–style program that typically enables you to prepay for private jet flights at a fixed hourly rate with guaranteed availability,” Private Jet Card Comparisons explains on its site.
There are dozens of companies that sell private jet cards, including Air Charter Service, Air Partner, Airshare, Airstream Jets Inc., Alliance Aviation, Charter Flight Group, Delta Private Jets, Inc., Flexjet, International Jet, JetSuite, Jettly, Magellan Jets, Netjets, PrivateFly, Privé Jets, Quantum Jets, Unity Jets, VistaJet, and Wheels Up, among numerous others. Some companies specialize in shorter, domestic flights, while others offer access to global destinations, such as VistaJet.
For a fee of $250, Private Jet Card Comparisons breaks down the options and what each card and program have to offer.
The benefits of flying private
Avoid the crowds at the airport
If you fly a private jet out of a major airport, you won’t be going through the main commercial air terminals. Most private jet operators use a designated area adjacent to a major airport for check-in, security, boarding, and disembarkation. Some have converted these areas into sleek lounge spaces for more comfortable waiting environments. But the bottom line is, you won’t be going through the same check-in procedures and security lines as everyone else at the airport—you will have a separate, more secluded area only for private fliers. (Prior to check-in, make sure to establish what the luggage restrictions are as well as those for flying with animals—they will vary depending on the size of the aircraft and by operator, though many typically have standard luggage allowances and allow pets to come along.)
Access to more destinations
Many private jet flights skip the larger, more bustling hubs opting instead to take off and land at smaller airstrips that are less congested. Those smaller airports can often get travelers even closer to their destination than a larger hub would, meaning less travel time to and from the aircraft itself. Access to destinations that don’t have regular commercial service or any service at all is another huge potential bonus of flying private.
When looking to book a private jet, travelers can customize the experience to their needs and wants (and budgets), including the size and style of the aircraft and the level of service. This can also translate into more work for the customer as it’s not as easy as simply going online and booking a flight—some back-and-forth communication is required between the private jet operator and the clients as they establish exactly which aircraft, flight routes, and service will be needed. The payoff is arguably worth it when you find the private flying experience that perfectly suits your desires.
The environmental impact of flying private
We’re not going to sugarcoat it. Flying private does not have a good track record when it comes to the environment. In a November 2019 report, U.K.-based nonprofit group Fellow Travellers together with economic democracy advocacy organization Common Wealth estimated that on average a private jet passenger journey within Europe emits around 7 times the greenhouse gases as the same business-class flight and around 10 times as much as an economy-class flight. Consequently, the report advocates for the rapid electrification of the private jet sector, which it notes is the segment of the air industry that is most amenable to going fully electric in the very near future.
That was confirmed by writer Elissa Garay in her AFAR article “Electric Planes Are Coming Sooner Than You Think,” which noted that some of the biggest gains in electric air travel include smaller two- to nine-passenger private electric planes.
Investments in electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are being made by companies that include Boeing, Airbus, NASA, and Toyota, as well as startups, such as California’s Archer Aviation and Joby Aviation, Germany’s Lilium, and the U.K.’s Vertical Aerospace, Garay reports.
While the Biden administration is making a big push to reduce air emissions by focusing on a switch to more sustainable aviation fuels, environmental organizations continue to emphasize that the biggest impact in the private aviation space will ultimately be a gradual conversion to fully electric flights.
This story was originally published in 2019 and was updated on August 16, 2023, to include current information.