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How to Fly Private on a Budget as Low as $200 per Flight

Author Deepti Nickam
Private plane in the air

What comes to your mind when you think about flying private?

Here’s what I used to think — a swanky affair, an out-of-reach indulgence, and something only billionaires do.

Like me, even if you’re a ​​high-net-worth individual, you’re probably booking economy or spoiling yourself with the occasional business class seats.

But before you fly again, you need to know that there are posher and far more affordable options than you think. And I’m not talking about first class.

It’s now entirely possible to fly private or semi-private on a budget.

But how cheap are we talking?

Depending on the airlines and the route, in some cases, flying private can be more affordable than flying business class.

Don’t believe me?

I think I can change your mind.

The Best Affordable Private Jet Companies

Relaxing in privacy at 30,000 feet may have been a distant dream before 2020. But since the social distancing era of the pandemic, the demand for private flying has sky-rocketed.

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The result? There’s a flurry of new players entering the market and making this luxury accessible.

Here’s a detailed list of the top emerging companies in the “budget private flying” space.

Note that the services I’ve included in this list aren’t entirely private. But they still offer the convenience of flying out of private terminals in smaller airports, meaning you can arrive just minutes before departure time and avoid tiring security lines.

1. JSX Airlines

A unique public charter operator that lets you book a semi-private plane by the seat.

passengers entering the plane

Flying costs

Prices start at $219 for a one-way trip.

flight availability chart

I stumbled upon many $219 options between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, as well as Carlsbad and Taos. These flights may cost you upwards of $300 during high-peak dates.

What you get

  • Comfortable and roomy 30-seat jets.
  • Business class legroom.
  • Full flight attendant service.
  • Complimentary gourmet snacks, beer, wine, and spirits.
  • Free onboard Starlink WiFi.
  • Lounge access (in some cities).

Destinations you can travel to

  • Austin
  • Boca Raton
  • Burbank
  • Cabo San Lucas
  • Concorde/Napa
  • Dallas
  • Denver/Boulder
  • Destin
  • Gunnison/Crested Butte
  • Houston
  • Las Vegas
  • Lajitas/Big Bend
  • Los Angeles
  • Marsh Harbour
  • Miami/Opa-Locka
  • Monterey/Carmel
  • Morristown
  • Nashville
  • Oakland
  • Odessa/Midland
  • Orlando
  • Orange County/Santa Ana
  • Phoenix
  • Reno-Tahoe
  • San Diego/Carlsbad
  • Taos
  • Westchester County

Pros

JSX offers a hassle-free affair — you can arrive just 20 minutes before departure time. Plus, the planes only have 30 seats, so you get a taste of what it’s like to fly private.

These positives along with the added food, beverage, and pet-friendly amenities, will give you a superior flying experience.

Cons

The airline is expanding, but the routes are limited for now. Plus, peak date prices can get very high.

Details

JSX claims it wants to “revolutionize your flying experience” with “celebrity-worthy flying at an affordable price.”

The airline’s fleet consists of the Embraer E135 and E145 regional jets. The scheduled service operates all days a week in the West Coast and Texas.

With 30 seats onboard, JSX isn’t truly private, but they’re much more roomy than other regional planes.

Plus, flying with this airline means that you won’t deal with long check-in lines, traditional Transportation Security Administration screenings, or baggage checks.

If you’re an anxious traveler like me, you know what a huge deal this is.

2. Aero

This shared-charter model lets you access premium 16-seat jets.

aero aircraft

Flying costs

Prices start at $950 for a one-way ticket.

aero charter flight departure schedule

I came across several $950 flying options between Aspen and Los Angeles and Sun Valley and Los Angeles.

What you get

  • Generous leg space and Italian leather seats.
  • Curbside check-in and effortless boarding.
  • Premium open bar and a culinary program featuring Erewhon and Sadelle’s.
  • Dedicated concierge service, including pre and post-flight travel.

Destinations you can travel to

  • Sun Valley
  • Aspen
  • Los Angeles
  • Dallas
  • Los Cabos

Pros

You can expect white-glove service from booking to takeoff. You’ll have access to a dedicated concierge, luggage service, curbside greeting, and car booking service.

Aero has an in-house design team, so their aircraft are simply beautiful. Plus, your pet friends are welcome on board.

Cons

The company currently serves very limited locations in the U.S. It’s also a brand-new service, which may make you nervous.

Details

As one of America’s newest airlines (launched in February 2021), Aero is making a lot of noise — and for the right reasons. The airline operates the Embraer E135 jets (16 seats in a 1-1 configuration) and the Embraer Legacy 600 jets (12 seats in a 1-1 configuration).

The interiors of the aircraft are bespoke — I’m talking about a custom Bongiovi Acoustic Lab sound system, dynamic lighting, and Italian leather seat covers.

The complimentary concierge service covers almost all pre and post-flight logistics you need help with — including on-ground transport, local experiences, specially sourced drinks and snacks during the flight, and more.

3. SurfAir

Another membership-based airline that lets you access premium scheduled short-haul flights.

surfair plane

Flying costs

Their memberships start at $295 per month, which lets you access all flights on a per-seat basis.

surfair membership fee

The $1,900 monthly plan lets travelers get unlimited off-peak flights and access to buy everything else. And for $4,740 a month, SurfAir lets you pre-book up to 12 scheduled flights.

What you get

  • Arrive at their local airport just 15 minutes before flights depart,
  • Members get exclusive perks, such as discounted rates at hotels and rental car agencies.
  • Complimentary flights for every referral that joins the club.
  • You’ll also get an around-the-clock concierge team to book experiences beyond air travel.

Where you can travel

Surf Air offers on-demand flights (which you can book at your convenience) to more than 5,000 regional and international airports across the U.S. The airline also operates scheduled flights along the West Coast and Texas.

Pros

You can book your flight just 15 minutes before departure if a seat is available. That puts into perspective how little time you’ll need to actually board the plane. I also like their thriving referral policy — you can score free flights if your friends join the club.

Cons

To unlock all benefits, you’ll need the $1,900 monthly membership. Plus, Surf Air charges a one-time member initiation fee of $500.

Details

Los Angeles-based Surf Air focuses on scheduled short-haul flights across California and Texas. Once you’re a member, you can book trips via their mobile app and arrive at the airport 15 minutes before takeoff.

Recently, Surf Air expanded its services to include nationwide on-demand charters; hourly rates for charters start at $400. You can book online and select from thousands of aircraft without having to talk to a broker.

With a maximum passenger capacity of eight, these charter planes solely fly a fleet of Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop aircraft.

Impressive Charter Open Marketplaces You Can Consider

Another smart way to hack private air travel is using an open charter marketplace.

A number of newer services are now connecting you directly with charter operators, letting you browse, book, and buy seats within minutes.

JetASAP

Launched in November 2020, JetASAP is a free self-service software that lets you book private flights straight from your smartphone. The app calls itself the “Airbnb for air travel.”

Both the app and the website offer a free search function—unlimited access will cost you $79.99/month or $149.99/year.

But how does this work?

Simple — all you need to do is submit a flight request with your desired departure airport and timings. Live operators will respond to you with quotes.

A list of over 1,000 bookable daily trips is exclusively available to members.

FlyJets

FlyJets, another newcomer to the private aviation scene, was founded in January 2020. The platform functions similarly to a travel search engine, letting you select results based on your preferred aircraft size, location, and departure time.

Prices can be up to 50% less than the usual charter, with booking options including full charters, seats on shared charters, and group purchasing.

You can also bid on non-fixed-price flights. This company also rewards you for being environmentally friendly — your carbon offsets are directly added to your user dashboard as points.

Have a Bigger Budget (Say Some $500,000)? Own a Piece of the Plane

Fractional ownership basically lets you own an aircraft outright — on a smaller scale, of course. The portion of the plane you own is doled out in hours of flight time.

This is a one-time investment. And the bigger your share is, the more hours you get to fly. OG companies, such as NetJets and younger ones like Flexjet, offer ownership as low as one-sixteenth of an aircraft. Buyers should still expect to pay at least $500,000.

While this can be a great investment opportunity for some, it’s not the best for casual flyers who won’t use all their allotted hours or for travelers who want different aircraft needs from trip to trip.

Note that fractional ownership typically applies to a specific type of aircraft in a standard configuration.

Conclusion

Several companies provide charter subscriptions and private jet-like experiences for less than you might think. Before you dive into the world of private air travel, keep in mind that there are no reasonable ways to book private flights using points and miles.

So, you want to use a credit card that maximizes the return on private jet travel because there are some serious points-earning opportunities here.

Read our detailed post on the best credit cards for free travel & cash back and learn more about key credit card perks.



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