Explaining the Consumer Confidence and Safety Issues with Shared Flight Programs

In these difficult, economic times, private jet travelers may be looking for alternatives to the high cost of charter flights, but how can you be certain that you are getting the safest service at the best available price? Over the past few years, a new method for air charter has emerged in the air charter industry known as the shared flight program.  A “shared flight” or “fractional charter” occurs when a group of travelers share all the costs and expenses of an individual charter flight. Shared flight programs can significantly reduce the cost of private jet travel, however, they also pose serious problems for consumer confidence and safety. Shared flight programs are not technically illegal, but aircraft operators that sell shared charter flights have been called into question for skirting FAA and DOT regulations in order to sell a charter flight.

In order to ensure passenger safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have established specific safety regulations and guidelines to govern different types of aircraft operations. Shared charter flights are conducted on on-demand charter aircraft and are therefore governed by FAA Part 135 and DOT on-demand air carrier regulations. Under these regulations, on-demand air charter flights are not allowed to be “scheduled” or arranged by aircraft operators without additional authority as a scheduled air carrier. This means that your aircraft operator can not tell you about an available seat on a pre-arranged charter flight. However, you are allowed to share the expense of a charter flight with other passengers, as long as the operator is not involved in that part of the booking process. This is how aircraft operators sell shared flight programs without violating FAA and DOT on-demand air charter regulations.

Given the deceptive nature of shared flight programs, wouldn’t you prefer to work with honest, transparent aircraft operators that adhere to all FAA and DOT regulations? An easy way to identify air charter service providers that meet the highest standards for safety and excellence is through the Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA). ACANA is an invite-only, non-profit organization comprised of the finest air charter service providers in North America. ACANA members promote the highest level of best practices and professionalism in order to enhance the industry as a whole. As an ACANA member, Stratos Jet Charters ensures that its approved vendors adhere to all FAR Part 135 and DOT regulations, and we never arrange shared charter flights to ensure your personal safety. Our goal as an ACANA member is to educate air charter consumers about the added advantage of working with honest, reliable service providers and avoiding the grey area of shared charter flights.

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