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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Alternatives to Commercial Air Travel

Charter airline service is an increasingly popular option for business travelers, particularly since commercial carriers have begun to reduce schedules. You may want to consider a charter option if you

  • Are flying to a destination not served—or not conveniently served—by commercial airlines

  • Require on-demand service

  • Are traveling with a group

  • Need to travel to multiple destinations

  • Want to avoid congestion and security at larger airports

  • Can't afford to spend the time it might take using commercial airline options

Your best bet for booking a charter flight is to go through a charter broker. These companies act like travel agents and will find the least-expensive options with the highest-quality charter aircraft services. One such company is Air Charter Team (http://www.aircharterteam.com, 800.205.6610). There are always less expensive ways to travel than charter, but costs continue to drop, thanks to aircraft overcapacity and improved logistics technology that allows brokers to schedule aircraft more efficiently. Pricing for charters depends on a number of factors, making it impossible to give specific rates, but a rough rule of thumb is that a charter will cost about the same amount as a commercial flight for three people flying first class—or six people flying on nonrefundable coach class tickets. Commercial airlines that offer charter services include ATA and Northwest.

Private-jet memberships—prepaid blocks of travel on small aircraft—are a viable alternative to corporate jet or fractional ownership. Companies selling private-jet memberships include Marquis Jet Partners (http://www.marquisjet.com, 866.538.1400), Sentient (http://www.sentientjet.com, 866.473.6843), and Delta AirElite (http://www.airelite.com, 800.927.0927). Pricing structures vary by company, aircraft, and destination, which makes them difficult to compare; know, however, that you'll pay less for a private-jet membership than you would for a corporate jet.

Another option is offered by Indigo (http://www.flyindigo.com, 877.446.3446), a corporate-jet service that runs flights out of New Jersey's Teterboro airport and New York's Westchester airport to Midway airport in Chicago. Indigo sells individual seats on these flights, and their fares are competitive with full-fare economy class seats on major commercial carriers.

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