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Friday, October 23, 2020

Business Travel

Five Reasons for CEOs to Fly Private During and After Covid-19

The spread of Covid-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives and every business out there. As far as the travel industry goes, trends within private jet travel have been particularly interesting.

Over the Memorial Day travel period, while commercial flights stacked up at only 12% of their 2019 volume, private charter flights jumped up to 59% of their 2019 levels. Even more telling is the drastic increase in interest. One charter company, Air Partner, said their call volume in May was up 210% year over year.

Many of our CEO clients have never considered flying private before, but this mode of transportation should be in every executive’s travel toolkit for the following situations:

Need to be Discreet

For top CEOs, spending time in airports and on commercial flights is a safety and privacy risk. Flying private is a great option whether you are well recognized in public and do not want the hassle, or if you are working on a private acquisition that needs to remain confidential. When you fly private your travel advisor can arrange luxury, private transportation right to your aircraft. At international locations, you can also clear immigration and customs in a private terminal.

Family Emergencies

Everyone should be aware of the option to fly private for emergencies. We had to make use of this for my own father-in-law a few years back, and the ability to transport him to a better hospital via private travel added years onto his life. While Covid-19 is ongoing, this is a safe option to help family members move from place to place. In fact, March 17th was one of our private air partner’s busiest days ever as Americans used private jets to bring their loved ones home from international trips after the U.S. travel ban was implemented.

Health & Safety

It is no secret that Covid-19 is highly communicable. Though commercial airliners have put a lot of effort into cleaning their planes and upgrading their air filtration systems, you could still find yourself sitting within six feet of nine other people. No matter the size of your group or the length of your journey, we can find a private plane to minimize your exposure.

Same Day Turnarounds

Aside from Covid-related uses, we find private jets are often used for business or personal trips when our CEO clients need to travel to a city and return home in the same day. The convenience of determining your own schedule and not needing to wait hours in the airport makes same day turnarounds very feasible. The use cases here are endless: you want to be at your niece’s birthday party two states over but also need to be back to prep for a big presentation the next day; or you need to visit an elderly parent, but they do not have room for you to stay overnight – the options are endless.

Roadshows 

Another top use case for private travel is for executives who are on “roadshows” or need to visit several destinations over a few day period. With the convenience and speed of flying private, you can potentially be in two or three cities per day for meetings and dinners.

How to Get Started

If you are considering flying private for any of these reasons, you have several options.

Flying private “on demand” means booking your flights as and when you need them, without a large upfront cost. The biggest benefits of on demand are access to many types of aircraft and lower cost. There is usually a bidding process that happens for each request, and because the cost depends on where the plane is coming from, the bidding process allows you to identify planes that are close to your origin/destination, thereby saving you money.

To fly on demand you will work with a trusted travel advisor or jet broker. The benefits of working through an advisor are many. He or she will already have vetted the reputation, operations, and reliability of several jet brokers and be able to choose the right fit. Your advisor will gather your preferences, what is most important to you, if there is flexibility in dates, etc. Then they will work with the right broker, asking the right questions and narrowing down the options. Your advisor will organize your trip details before and after the flight as well, so you can work with only one person for the entire trip.

If you prefer to work directly with a jet broker, make sure to conduct introductory calls with several different brokers to understand how they operate. Some are operator brokers and have their own fleet in addition to being able to call on other fleets. You will want to understand their threshold for safety ratings, how they bid on charters, what buying power they have, if they have access to jets domestically or internationally, if they will organize catering on-board, and your transfers to and from the airport. You should also get a feel for whether working with them will suit your style.

If you plan to fly private often (100-300 hours per year +) and mostly domestically, a shared or fractional option may be a good fit. These options include Wheels Up, NetJets, Airshare, AirSprint, and more.

Flying private is not discussed often in travel publications, but can make all the difference when health, privacy, convenience, or business is at stake. Start slow, work with a partner you trust, and give it a go.


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Sarah Groen
Sarah Groen, founder and CEO of Bell & Bly Travel Design, a luxury travel advisory firm. Bell & Bly Travel helps executives, entrepreneurs, and their families take a holistic view of their vacation planning, allowing them to save time, enjoy amazing experiences they can't plan on their own, and make lasting memories with loved ones. Sarah Groen is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.