What Is It Like to Fly Private: The Private Jet Onboard Experience

Movies and TV shows paint a lavish picture of the private jet experience ⁠— and they’re not far off. Private aviation offers increased ease and luxury, which many people value when flying. Many travelers are curious about flying private, and the biggest question people have about private jet travel is what the onboard experience is like.

What Are the Advantages of Flying Private?

There are plenty of benefits to private aviation, including:

  • Convenience: Set your own schedule and choose the most convenient airport from which to fly. This eliminates the need to deal with long lines and endless waiting at gates and terminals.
  • Privacy: You can truly relax and get comfortable on a private jet since you’re surrounded by the people you choose to bring on board. You can talk and work freely without worrying about invasion of privacy.
  • Productivity: Without the distractions of other passengers, you can work in peace and may get more work done than you would on a commercial flight.
  • Luxury: You can work, talk, eat, and sleep in the utmost comfort, with ample space for you and your work items.
  • Affordability: Sometimes a private charter jet may cost less than a first-class ticket on a commercial flight, especially if you take advantage of the special one-way flights that are available.

The list of advantages stretches even further since many aspects of a charter flight can be customized to fit your needs and wants.

Amenities and Benefits of Flying Private

Why choose to fly private? The main reason is the freedom that comes with a private jet charter. Everything from the schedule to the interior of the aircraft can be customized to accommodate you, which is worth the price of flying privately.

Most people are familiar with commercial air travel, including the rigid schedules, potential delays, cramped seating, and many other headaches that come with it. Those considering the private jet lifestyle may be excited about the benefits of a customized flight. Beyond the benefits, novice flyers may still have questions about what it is like to fly private. The following sections detail answers to some of the commonly asked questions about private jet travel.

How Do Private Flights Work?

Individuals or corporations schedule private flights via a charter company. Many charter companies have their own aircraft, while others rent the aircraft. Private flights can be customized to fit your schedule — unlike “empty leg” flights, which rely on predetermined routes. Empty leg flights are those that have passengers on the way to a destination but not on the return journey. In some cases, customers can book a flight on an empty leg flight for a discounted price. But finding an empty leg flight that fits all your travel criteria — including the date, time, and location — is nearly impossible if you are doing the research alone. Finding the perfect one-way flight can be painless if you work with an operator or broker that can help you find available one-ways to fit your itinerary.

Private flights can be scheduled as early as months or as late as a few hours before departure. This allows you to plan ahead if you know when you’ll need to travel or book a flight for the same day in emergencies. No ticket is necessary for private flights since you’ll get an email itinerary from the charter company. This itinerary also includes information about the flight crew and pilot.

While private jets are extremely convenient and can be booked the same day, there are some time limitations. Private flights need time to prepare, so it’s unlikely you can get a flight within minutes. Depending on where the aircraft is based, it may be at least an hour before you can board and take off, but it’s likely to be longer to give the plane and flight crew enough time to prepare the aircraft.

Are Private Jets Faster Than Commercial Jets?

Depending on the aircraft and route, private jets typically travel faster than commercial aircraft. Private jets are afforded a lot of time-saving privileges that shorten the overall length of the journey.

Private jets are allowed to fly out of almost any airport, big or small. Often, smaller airports that aren’t major hubs are most cost-effective. There are also many general aviation airports from which only chartered jets can fly, so passengers can choose one closest to them and save time commuting. Once at the airport, you move from the terminal to the cabin quickly and take off soon after. Without giant, crowded runways and large amounts of passengers to deal with, private jets often end up in the air sooner than commercial jets.

In the air, private jets tend to fly higher than commercial jets. This reduces the chances of dealing with air traffic and bad weather, both of which reduce the amount of time it takes to arrive at the destination.

One of the pros of flying private is the passenger can have more input about the flight. This includes routes, as well. Commercial airlines often cannot take a direct route, but private jets are not bound to the rules and regulations of large airlines and airports. If you want to get to your destination quicker, request a direct route. If you want to enjoy a little time on the plane, you can request an indirect route and enjoy the scenery longer.

Are Private Jets Safe?

Private jets are just as safe as commercial jets. Private jets must adhere to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and must abide by the same safety rules as commercial jets. This includes things like ensuring the aircraft is well maintained, training knowledgeable pilots and staff, and instructing passengers on safety procedures.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also has specific recommendations for fixed-base operators (FBO) — that is, the places from which many charter jets fly — including recommendations for pilots, crew, and aircraft mechanisms.

On top of these regulations, charter companies have their own ways of vetting staff and crew to ensure clients are getting the best service. When researching a charter company, it’s a good idea to inquire about the experience of the pilots, particularly how many hours they’ve flown in the specific aircraft you’ll be traveling in. You can also find out how the company vets its crew. It’s likely the company will be more than happy to explain how they are taking steps to ensure a safe and comfortable flight for you.

In addition, you can check the charter company’s ARGUS rating. ARGUS is an independent rating system for private jet operators that aims to help charter companies adhere to an internationally recognized standard. Companies who boast an ARGUS Platinum rating, like Latitude 33 Aviation, are telling passengers and potential clients that they take safety very seriously.

Flying privately typically means you aren’t traveling with dozens of strangers. Passengers on a private jet typically already know each other and don’t have to worry about unknown strangers.

Does TSA Check Private Jets Passengers?

Passengers on a private jet do still need to pass through security. However, removing shoes or separating liquids isn’t necessary — in fact, the general regulations about how much liquid is allowed don’t apply to private charter jets. Because of this, private jet security for passengers is often faster.

Instead of normal airport security protocol, passengers are searched at the terminal shortly before boarding the aircraft. TSA regulations state that for charter jets carrying more than 61 passengers, the passengers are required to pass through normal security. Light private jets, which normally seat anywhere from four to eight people, are therefore exempt from going through the same inspection as commercial flight passengers.

What Can You Bring on Charter Jets?

Unlike commercial flights, charter jet flights don’t have luggage weight limitations for passengers. However, the size of the aircraft could dictate how much baggage will fit on board. Because the baggage will be in the cabin with passengers, it needs to be able to fit in the space without blocking passageways.

Otherwise, there aren’t any restrictions on what you can bring on a charter jet. The size limits for liquids also do not apply, so you can bring full-sized bottles of your cosmetics and shampoo, as well as sealed or unsealed bottles of alcohol or any other drinks you’d like.

Pets are welcome aboard a charter flight and can remain in the cabin with you instead of being locked in the cargo area. Like with commercial flights, you need to make sure your pet is up to date on required vaccinations, and you are responsible for obtaining any documentation that may be necessary.

For international flights, you will need to make sure you have the appropriate documentation and meet the requirements of the arrival country. This can include getting a separate visa for your pet.

Can Private Jets Land Anywhere?

The short answer is yes, private charter jets have the privilege of landing at any airport in the country. It’s best to discuss your options with your aviation broker to see which airport is convenient and within your budget.

If you plan to use a charter jet for an international flight, you may not have the same choice of airports as you would in the United States. Charter jets must follow the rules and regulations of foreign countries, and the charter company may need to obtain permission to land at an international airport.

Can You Use Electronics on a Private Jet?

One of the pros of flying private is the opportunity to be more productive than you could on a commercial flight — even in first class. On private jets, you can bring your laptop, tablet, and phone and get work done in peace and comfort. Many private jets also offer Wi-Fi. If you need the internet to work or you plan to spend the flight browsing the web, you’ll need to request an aircraft with Wi-Fi capabilities.

While you can bring and use your electronics on a private jet, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all electronics like telephones and tablets to be on airplane mode while the aircraft is flying. This is especially necessary during takeoff and landing to ensure there is no interference with the aircraft’s navigation systems. The FAA is a little more lenient on this and suggests that electronics can be used during the flight if the aircraft crew deems they will not interfere with navigation or communication systems.

These regulations only apply to electronics that may interfere with communication systems, which means electronics like pacemakers, electric shavers, and portable recorders are exempt and can be used throughout the flight.

Do You Need a Passport or Visa on a Private Jet Flight?

Most charter jet flights are domestic, so a passport is usually not necessary. However, if you are planning to charter a jet to an international city, the immigration laws of that country still apply. If you’re traveling to a country that requires Americans to have a passport and visa, you will be responsible for ensuring you bring those documents.

This also applies to any children or pets who may be traveling with you. It’s best to double-check the immigration requirements of your destination country and make sure you have all the appropriate documentation ahead of time. This is especially crucial when it comes to visas, since many of them require an application and have a wait time of several weeks before approval.

When traveling on a private charter jet, customs and immigration are generally much quicker for many of the same reasons that security is quicker. The reduced number of passengers and the special terminal where charter jets land means your passport can be checked and stamped in minutes.

Is Food Served on Private Flights?

Food can be served on private flights if the passengers request it. The perk of charter flights is you’re not limited to the same airplane food you’re likely to get on commercial flights. Instead, passengers can request almost any meal they want.

Because private flights tend to be shorter than commercial ones, many passengers request simpler meals — like trays of fruits and vegetables or selections of cheeses that are easy to eat and share without needing to be reheated. However, requesting specific meals from specific restaurants is also a possibility if you desire.

There are limitations to custom restaurant orders since the food needs to be packed in a way that it will stay fresh and be easy to reheat on the plane. Some private jets have microwaves on board, while others have reheating ovens, so the packaging needs to be compatible with both. In addition, some restaurants decline to cater to private jets because their food will need to be reheated and may lose some of its quality.

Other considerations for private jet food are ease of eating and aroma. Pungent foods aren’t recommended since the aroma will remain in the cabin until the aircraft lands and the doors are opened. Similarly, foods that require careful movements to eat or that are prone to dripping or spilling are best avoided on an aircraft.

Regardless of what you want on the flight, there’s a good chance the charter company will be happy to oblige. You should be aware you’ll be paying for the food itself in addition to the logistics of getting it to you. For example, if you wanted a specific meal from a restaurant, the meal price would include the cost for the food as well as the gas the charter company used to drive there and pick it up, and the time they spent doing it.

Are Seat Belts Still Necessary on Private Jets?

Seat belts and emergency protocol are both requirements of the FAA, so even private jet passengers need to wear seat belts during takeoff, landing, and any other time the private jet crew deems it necessary. FAA regulations state that the aircraft cannot take off unless every passenger on board is briefed on how to properly lock and unlock their seat belt or seat harness.

What Are the Toilets Like on Private Jets?

Private jet interiors vary in size, so some smaller jets don’t have bathrooms at all. This isn’t as much of a problem considering the majority of charter jet flights are under two hours long. Passengers are simply advised to use the facilities at the FBO or at their destination.

Jets with toilets onboard have accommodations that range from luxurious and elegant to the bare minimum. Smaller jets may have a toilet behind a curtain. Others may have a standard bathroom similar to those on commercial planes, but a little more enclosed — making them potentially uncomfortable for people who are bigger or taller than average.

A fully enclosed bathroom on a private jet usually includes a toilet, a sink, and a vanity mirror. These bathrooms usually have folding or sliding doors to make for easier access.

The bathroom facilities on a private jet vary by the model of the aircraft. It’s always a good idea to double-check whether a toilet is one of the included amenities, and if so, what sort of toilet it is. Even if your jet has a toilet on board, it may not be the most comfortable option, and you may opt to use the facilities at the FBO prior to takeoff instead.

Are the Seats Comfortable on Private Jets?

One of the greatest benefits of private charter jets is the luxury and comfort they provide. Seating on private jets offers more legroom and reclining space than the seats in first class on a commercial flight, mostly because the average private jet seats less than 10 people. With fewer passengers, you have more space to spread out — and this applies both to your body as well as your belongings, such as computers.

Some models of private jets are even equipped with sofas or beds, allowing for ultimate comfort and the option to change positions with ease.

Experience the Luxury of Charter Jet Flights With Latitude 33 Aviation

With charter aircraft located throughout the nation, Latitude 33 Aviation is prepared to charter your next trip. We’re the only private jet operator in San Diego with an ARGUS Platinum safety rating, and we set the standard for private air travel. Our expert staff are available to answer all your questions about your next custom flight.

Get in touch with our concierge charter department by calling 1-800-840-0310, or request a quote today.

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