How Do Airport Slot Restrictions Affect Private Charter Flights?
When booking charter flights, you’ll sometimes come across an airport that is referred to as slot-restricted. These airports tend to be some of the busiest in the world, and their infrastructure limits their ability to meet air traffic demand. As such, scheduled takeoffs and landings—known as slots—are strictly controlled to maximize efficiency.
And while the slot system poses a significant challenge to commercial aviation, it can be even more difficult for people flying privately to access these airports. This is because the system is geared towards serving as many air travelers as possible. As a result, airlines are given preference for slot selection.
Currently, there are more than 170 airports worldwide that utilize the slot system. They’re designated Level 3 airports (or coordinated airports) by the International Air Transportation Association’s (IATA) Worldwide Slot Guidelines. Further to that, the Federal Aviation Administration enforces its own High Density Rule (or slot rule) to manage congestion at busy airports in the US, which includes:
- John F. Kennedy International (FAA ID: KJFK) in New York City
- LaGuardia (KLGA) in New York City
- Ronald Reagan Washington National (KDCA) in Washington, D.C.
(Newark Liberty International in New Jersey was slot restricted until Oct. 30, 2016).
Other IATA airport designations include:
Level 1 – Non-coordinated airport: Refers to an airport where the infrastructure is adequate to meet air traffic demands at any given time. Takeoffs and landings are permitted on a first-come, first-served basis, under the guidance of air traffic control.
Level 2 – Schedules-facilitated airport: Airports where scheduling is required to manage air travel demands during peak periods of the day, week or season.
What Does this Mean for Private Charter Flights?
As you probably know, the freedom to choose your flight schedule is one of the great perks of booking a private jet charter. However, when it comes to flying into or out of a slot-restricted airport, selecting your desired flight time can be more of a challenge because:
- Airlines are given slot preference
- Schedules are arranged far in advance
- There is little in the way of scheduling flexibility
It’s certainly possible, but you may need to book further in advance to secure your preferred slot. Additionally, slot-restricted airports often charge high-density landing fees, which raise the costs of charter flights.
A Broader Choice of Airports
Thankfully, one of the other great advantages of private charter flights is that you can choose from a larger selection of airports. For instance, while the bulk of commercial air traffic flying to the New York City typically lands at either JFK or LaGuardia, private jet travelers have a better option with Teterboro:
- The airport is much less chaotic
- It’s just 12 miles from midtown Manhattan
- Ground transfers to NYC are relatively quick
- You fly when you want
This applies to pretty much every slot-restricted airport: there’s always a better airport alternative when you fly privately.
To find out which airport is the most suitable for your charter flight, talk to a Stratos Jets charter associate. We tailor itineraries for charter flights that align perfectly with your schedule—888.593.9066