Charter Flights Explained: Everything You Should Know
Oct 4, 2023
15 min read
What is a charter flight if not a luxurious mode of transportation that ensures discretion and exclusivity in a way that even business class can’t?
Whether you are driven by a stacked business schedule or the need to get away from it all, private charter flights ensure you get there on time and in style.
Charters promise no crowded airports, long security lines, or terrible inflight food. More than just a streamlined way to get from point A to point B, jet charter flights give you back your time and privacy.
What is a Charter Flight?
A charter flight is any flight booked outside of a traditional airline schedule. Charters are booked by businesses and individuals for specific trips.
For example, an all-inclusive luxury resort could hire a charter flight for the season to include transportation within a special holiday package. Or, an executive could book a charter flight to quickly zip from a meeting in San Francisco to another in Santa Monica.
Charter flights are most often booked as the entire jet rather than on a per-seat basis (although there are exceptions, sometimes called fly-share services). This gives you full use of the aircraft to travel when and where you want. It also ensures you travel only with other passengers (if any) of your choosing rather than a plane full of strangers.
Benefits of Charter Flights
Charter flight services come with a long list of benefits. The thread that ties them all together is freedom—more freedom to travel when and how you like, without limitations.
From the itinerary to the destination to the inflight amenities, your charter experience is tailored to your needs. Private charter flights ensure your next trip is a customized one, catering to your every whim.
Flying private also reduces the long lines and security delays common to traveling through large commercial hubs. Private airports mean you can arrive minutes before your flight and still make your scheduled departure without breaking a sweat. You’ll also reap the benefits of nonstop travel without the headaches and delays caused by stop-overs.
Privacy and Discretion
Chartering locks in the exclusive use of the jet for you and anyone else you choose to fly with. This ensures no crowded airports and no sharing cabin space with dozens, if not hundreds, of passengers. Instead of hundreds of public interactions while navigating commercial airports and flights, flying private reduces that to a mere handful.
While Delta and American Airlines can only fly into major-city hubs and designated public airports, booking a charter flight will open up access to more than 5,000 smaller private airports nationwide, bringing your next destination that much closer.
No more 5 a.m. flights or redeyes unless, of course, that’s how you prefer to travel. Private charters fly on your schedule, not the airline’s. They allow you to stretch that weekend getaway to Monday morning and still make an early Monday morning meeting.
Types of charter flight services available
Buried within the question, “What is a charter flight?” are four tiers of charters, each serving a distinct market.
Private Charter Flight
You, the booker, pay for the exclusive use of the entire aircraft. You can set the schedule, departure, and arrival destinations, in-flight amenities, and who else you fly with.
Typically booked by tour operators and travel agencies, public charters are often rolled into all-inclusive travel packages and scheduled on a seasonal basis.
The booker still maintains control over schedule and destination. However, these aircraft are designed to move things—for example, the transport of a private art collection or an urgent delivery of oversized cargo between two businesses—not people
Charter Sharing Flights
Not entirely commercial and not wholly private, charter sharing (sometimes called fly-share services) sells individual seats on private jets rather than renting out the entire aircraft. You’ll enjoy the perks of flying private but share the space with a handful of other vetted passengers not of your choosing. The charter operator, not you, also sets the schedule.
Comparing Charter Flights to Commercial Flights
Beyond the mode of transportation — flying — there are a few similarities between flying on a private charter and a standard commercial flight. Even if you paid to upgrade to business class, there is no real comparison with a private charter experience.
Even the booking process is different for charter flight services. If you fly commercially, you’ll have to navigate Expedia or the like to find an available flight at a suitable cost. Sometimes, the airline’s schedule works and seats are available, but often they aren’t and you have to make do.
Alternatively, when you book a charter, you’ll often work with a broker who does all the wrangling for you. They know your parameters and then do all the digging to get the perfect jet for the job.
If you want to skip the broker step, at Volato, we’ve further streamlined the booking process. You can now book directly. Quickly get a quote for your next private charter flight, then work with our concierge team to customize the details.
Flying private comes at a premium. After all, you aren’t just booking a single seat on a flight; you are booking the flight itself. Charter flight costs are several times more expensive than a standard commercial ticket and cover everything from the crew to the fuel to the operator’s insurance.
The vast majority of charter flights operate out of private airports. This is one of the critical differences to private travel. Interactions are reduced from hundreds of people milling around public terminals to a select few charter staff and, perhaps, a handful of other passengers.
There are absolutely no crowds, no security lines, and no gate navigation required. You’ll find your privacy is paramount, and friendly staff are always available to walk you through the check-in, security, and boarding process.
At best, on a commercial flight, you can expect a coffee and a dry cookie as an in-flight meal these days. Longer flights may offer more menu options, but they are almost always just as lackluster.
Standing in stark contrast are the options available when flying private. Whether it’s a bottle of the finest merlot to celebrate a contract closing or a dozen roses to surprise someone you love, charter operators can make your wildest in-flight dreams come true.
How to Book a Charter Flight
You will usually work with a charter broker when booking a private flight. Brokers have connections with charter operators, and they understand jet classes, passenger and baggage maximums, and all the other charter ins and outs. They make the booking process a smooth one.
Another option is to book directly, although not all charter operators offer this option. Volato makes it easy. Book a charter flight directly with us, and our dedicated concierge staff will walk you through the process to find an option that is right for you.
Charter Flight Costs
Understanding charter pricing
A number of factors influence the cost of private charters, including but not limited to:
- Jet class
- Market demand
- Fuel costs
- Pilot and crew
- Airport fees
- Pre- and post-flight arrangements
- In-flight amenities
- And more
When you book a charter, the broker or Volato concierge team will capture your requirements at the time of quoting. Your quote will encompass all the influence over price, whether it’s arrangements for ground transportation or a flight attendant for an elevated in-flight service.
Importantly, you’ll notice that the number of passengers isn’t included in the above list. Because you are renting the entire aircraft, not individual seats, how many people you choose to fly with is up to you and doesn’t impact the price.
Again, when booking, your broker or concierge will help you choose a jet that can serve the number of people in your party.
Tips for optimizing costs
Are there ways to save money when flying private? Always.
Are you a frequent traveler?
Why not join a jet card program like the Volato Stretch Card ? Save on charter flights by pre-purchasing a block of hours (available in 10-, 25-, and 50-hour blocks), then reap the rewards of a flexible schedule. Earn back stretch hours according to your flexibility, and get free flight time on your next trip. The price per hour is locked in at the time of booking and at below-market rates.
Do you travel within a specific region?
The Volato Go! is a fixed-priced, fixed-leg option on our fleet of HondaJets. When traveling within our East Coast (Miami Opa Locka, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and Teterboro, New Jersey) or West Coast Zones (Van Nuys, California, Oakland, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada), you save.
Are you booking at the last minute?
Check out our Daily Deals on charter flights. We offer discounted prices on upcoming repositioning (empty leg) flights for the week ahead. Sign up to our mailing list for the most up-to-date schedule of offerings.
Is chartering a flight more expensive than booking a commercial flight?
Yes. Chartering is more expensive than the standard commercial flight because you book the entire aircraft rather than just a single seat.
Can I choose any destination for a charter flight?
Provided a suitable airport and charter jet are available, you can fly essentially anywhere.
Instead of a few select large commercial hubs, chartered flights work with more than 5,000 smaller private airports around the country, not to mention the number of international options available. With more than ten times the options, you get to land much closer to your destination than you ever thought possible.
What is the average cost of a charter flight?
So many factors influence the total price of a charter flight that it’s impossible to provide a truly representative average price. The type of jet, flight length, charter operator, inflight services, pre- and post-flight transpiration, airport fees, fuel surcharge, and more will dictate the cost of your flight.
But, the jet type and flight duration are two factors that have the most impact. The more you can expect to pay, the larger the craft and the further the flight. For example, if you are chartering the smallest jet class (Very Light Jet class), you can typically expect charter rates to start at $7,000 per hour.
Who uses charter flights?
Private charter flights are a luxury mode of transportation and, as such, are frequently booked by businesses, elite travelers, and those who prefer discretion when they travel. It’s a faster, more exclusive way to hop between meetings, arrive in style, or get out of the city for the weekend.
What is a Charter Flight? An Exclusive Way to Travel
A chartered private flight provides many of the same benefits as jet ownership but without the overhead. Chartering ensures you can fly where and when you want, and let’s not forget the luxuries you want.
Because you choose the schedule and who you fly with, you are afforded freedom and discretion you’d never see with commercial airlines, even with business class.
No matter your mission or your needs, we offer a fleet of modern aircraft with luxuriously outfitted interiors to fly you where you need to be, on schedule, and always in style.
Ready to book? Fly Volato.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only. Volato is not responsible for omissions or inaccuracies in such information, or for data that is no longer accurate due to delay, change in law, rules, or regulations.