A private jet service experience for the cost of a domestic airline ticket? Here’s our credit card, sign us up.
If you’ve ever had the good fortune to be able to fly on private jet, you understand the feeling of freedom and convenience. And if you do or have flown privately, you’re either rich or have rich friends. Flying privately means either owning a business jet, leasing one or chartering one and those options require stacks and stacks of Benjamins.
Earlier this month, a company launched a limited start-up service that offers its customers the chance to experience private jet travel.
JetSuite calls its service JetSuiteX and describes it as “making luxury travel more affordable.” It’s also described as a “private for public service.” You can check out the company’s web site here.
It currently offers regular, daily flights between Concord and Burbank in California. Expanding to weekend service to Las Vegas is expected soon and on June 30 will start flying to Bozeman, Mont.
How much, you ask, before reaching for your plastic? How about $109 for a one-way ticket on a 30-seat Embraer 135 jet?
“It’s a private jet-style experience for the price of an airline seat,” JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox told Condé Nast Traveler. “We looked at some short-haul markets in California where people fly a lot, and we found that while nationwide, traffic is up, there are fewer people flying those (smaller) markets every year.”
With mergers and consolidation at the top of the airline industry, there are some cheap-fare alternatives but those “bare fare” carriers ask passengers to give up convenience and creature comforts to save money. Plus, those low-fare carriers still have the hassles of air travel that frequent fliers are all too familiar worth.
Even though it’s barely a blip on the radar right now, here are some reasons why JetSuite’s plan is appealing:
- Smaller airports. That equates to convenience. For those around the San Francisco area, flying out of Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport means avoiding the traffic hassle of driving to the major airports in San Francisco or Oakland.
- Time saving. The hassles of baggage check, parking and TSA screening are reduced to the point of being eliminated. JetSuite says that their screening process is a “pre-approved Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protection process.” JetSuite says that the check-in time between arrival and boarding the plane could be about 15 minutes.
- Comfort. The seats on the JetSuiteX flights have a pitch of 36 inches so it’s similar to what commercial flights offer in business class. There’s also free Wi-Fi. Yes, free.
Further expansion of service is planned in 2017 as the company receives deliveries of the 10 Embraer 135s it has on order. JetSuiteX has targeted San Diego, Phoenix and Santa Barbara, Calif., as possible destinations.
“There are a lot of markets that can support 30 seats that can’t support 160 (that are typical on bigger jets like a Boeing 737). We’re going to be creative in finding those,” Wilcox said. “We’ve only got 30 seats to fill. And we only have to sell 20 of them to (break even).”
Still though, Avgeekery remains skeptical that this plan will succeed. Remember ExpressJet and Independence Air? Both airlines failed miserably at trying to be a standalone regional jet carrier. The cost structure is unfavorable. However, the industry is enjoying low oil prices and a decent economy. Will they survive? Time will tell.