The Abundance of First-time Flyers in a New Travel Era
When news of the Coronavirus initially broke, the private aviation sector first saw an incline in charters as many travelers looked for ways to get home before travel restrictions were enforced, and then we saw a complete slowdown as shelter-in-place orders began to take effect.
Fortunately, travel restrictions are beginning to lift and private aviation is taking off once again. However, there is one notable difference this time around. Many of the travelers booking charters are completely new to the world of private jet charters.
Health and safety a priority in private aviation
Before the world shifted, only 10 per cent of those who could afford private aviation were actually choosing to fly this way. The industry was looked at as a luxury and not a necessity. Many flyers were concerned about the perception of opulence and environmental impacts of flying privately, especially as the jet-shaming trend gained traction and media attention. However, that mindset has shifted too.
For travelers concerned about their health and safety, flying privately is a singularly perfect solution. Biosecurity is of the utmost importance in recent times, and no one is in a better position to deliver it than private jet providers.
On average, a person taking a commercial flight has about 700 different points of contact, both objects and other people, according to a recent analysis performed by the consulting firm McKinsey. Private flights have only 30.
With a jet charter, you avoid being surrounded by a lot of people who are traveling all over the world at a busy airport. During the flight, it’s just you and your group onboard.
Private jets can use smaller, quieter regional airports in outlying areas, meaning travelers bypass the long security lineups and waiting areas of large international airports. As infection rates spread in the United States, we’re hearing from people who don’t want to take their chances.
Early on, we received a lot more quote requests from people who don’t normally travel this way, especially those who were in areas with high infection rates that wanted to go somewhere warm to relax with their family with all of this going on, or they had urgent business and just couldn’t stay in.
Unlike commercial travel that involves fixed schedules and pre-planning, private jets can be chartered in as little as four hours’ notice, given availability, and passengers can influence departure times—which was just part of the reason for the surge in last-minute requests.
Since the spike of infection zones, we’ve seen an increase in requests and bookings from clients, especially first-time flyers.
And for those travelers who are still concerned with the harmful effects of chartering a private aircraft, there are a couple of operators and brokers out there who offer programs to offset carbon emissions. Programs like these certainly add value as they give travelers peace of mind, and that’s more valuable than anything in today’s current economic state.
What you need to know before you go
Know the FBO. Instead of pulling up to the departure gate at the commercial airport, flying privately provides the less busy experience of departing from an FBO. Yes, you get to skip the check-in, security, and boarding queues. So, be sure to ask your private flight advisors for directions or phone the FBO directly. Both can provide tips on where to park and how to get there.
Remember your passport. Even though you’re flying privately and you won’t be passing through the commercial airport, you’ll still be required to present your passport or identification before boarding your personal aircraft.
Pack like a private jet veteran. Private jets usually come with baggage limits. If you’re unsure how much cargo space the private aircraft has, ask your private flight advisors. They’ll know how much baggage each passenger can bring along. And the same rules apply for prohibited items as they would on commercial flights. Sharp objects firearms and weapons aren’t necessarily allowed on board.
The future of private aviation
First-time flyers are creating a boom in the private aviation industry, and it’s hard to see that changing anytime soon. However, as commercial airports begin to offer flights more frequently again and COVID-19 infection rates begin to decline, the demand for private jets will likely even return to normal levels again.