Private Jet Charter 101: What You Need To Know
Chartering a flight can be as simple as booking an Uber
There is an increasing number of private jet charter companies out there but no one is more familiar with the industry than Diana Chou, a Hong Konger widely recognised as the first female to sell private jets in Asia.
Four years ago, she moved along the value chain from retailing the crafts to chartering them, through her company L’Voyage Limited. Here, she shares her insights on the convenience of chartering one's very own private jet.
Billionaire: Why should one consider chartering a jet?
Diana Chou: Private jets can fly directly to some destinations that commercial airlines don’t. This can save up to 18 hours of travel time. For instance, it can take 20 hours to reach some third-tier cities in China via commercial airlines. A private jet can make the trip in less than five hours. Another advantage is skipping the immigration and security queues — you just have to arrive at the private aviation terminal 10 minutes before departure and these processes will be sorted out in a flash.
Private jets also have many more options as to where they can land. For example, it can land in regional airports in Laos and Tibet that commercial airliners cannot because of their landing requirements and size. Even during peak season, you have a good chance of booking a flight for a group as large as 15 on short notice.
Additionally, there are many things you can do on board a private jet that you can’t on commercial aircraft, such as exercise, sing karaoke or smoke your favourite cigar. Many people use our jets to hold business meetings to save time and ensure privacy. Also, a private jet is a great solution for people who require special dietary arrangements or urgent medical-related transportation.
Are there disadvantages to chartering a jet?
Cost is the biggest deterrent. But considering the non-monetary benefits of chartering a jet (saving time), it is worth the value for the ultra-high-net-worth individual. To environmentalists, carbon footprint can be a concern.
What restrictions should one take note of before chartering?
Time slot applications can be a challenge, especially in Asia. Some high-traffic airports only offer a limited number of landing or parking slots for private jets and there is always lead time required to obtain them. For instance, the lead time in Hong Kong is 14 days. This is why it is safer to fly with established private jet charter companies that have the know-how and contacts to secure one for your flight.
How many people can you fit into a flight?
We can fly anything from one person, right up to three soccer teams at any one time. This is possible because we have access to over 6,000 aircraft worldwide, ranging from the Challenger 300, which seats eight, to a B787 VIP Dreamliner, which can accommodate 40. It is not uncommon for us to fly a group of 14 Chinese businessmen on a multi-stop trip to visit potential investment sites in the US, or a family of 12 to their private holiday home in London.
Are there any unspoken rules for chartering flights?
Because the jets are usually privately owned, it is best to treat the aircraft as you would your own. Also, while most private jets allow smoking in the cabin, some owners prefer that it not happen, so passengers need to respect that.
What personal luxuries can you pack for a flight?
Essentially, if the item can fit in the cargo door, meets basic aircraft weight limitations and does not contravene International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations, it can be brought on board. We have taken fragile artwork, furniture, pets and crates of wine. One of our clients even brought along some hunting guns on a flight to another part of the country. Having said that, we once had to decline accepting ivory, as it is banned in international trade.
How easy is it to charter a jet?
It is as straightforward as calling Uber. Our customers usually call us at +852 2868 3678 or message us at +852 6390 5853. From April 2017, they can also download the L’Voyage app and book a flight in a few clicks. Unlike the taxi booking app, you will be assigned a personal concierge who will call you to arrange the entire journey; from aircraft preference and business jet terminal booking, to special cargo arrangements, ground transportation and more. All your immigration and transfer details will also be taken care of if you have previously registered your details and preferences with L’Voyage.
We take note of every single detail of our client’s preferences – from favourite wine and cuisine, right down to preferred cabin temperature. It is like having your personal concierge, chauffeur, chef, air traffic controller, flight planner, pilot and private in-flight service staff all rolled into one.