Coupon cutting seems to fly in the face of private jet travel. After all, with charter flights from New York to San Francisco running about $20,000 to $30,000 one way, how much should a discount really matter to a jet setter?
A lot, it seems. No one wants to pay full price for anything, even those who travel by private jet, according to Gregg Slow, executive vice president of XOJET, a charter company that offers on-demand service. All of his clients “are looking for a discount at 40,00 feet,” he told LLNYC.
Because the company wants to avoid flying empty planes, XOJET offers discounts around 15-20% off on Tuesdays and Saturdays, which are lower-volume days, and will pass along any savings to consumers. Other discounts are available if the client lets XOJET choose the type of plane or is flexible about departure time. Clients who fly very frequently also get rewarded with credits.
This is still a pricey proposition any way you look at it – big customers typically rack up $200,000 to a million dollars a year for private jet travel, even with the discounts. It’s usually the biggest check they’re writing each month, Slow said.
He likened private jet travel to a “time machine.”
“There is no economic justification for flying private. We’re selling time.” The company has many finance executives who are seeking to raise capital – with their “time machines” they can hop to more meetings around the globe than possible with commercial travel.
But the big customers are still interested in paying less when they can. “Our clients tend to be savvy fliers. And they are successful for a reason: They don’t take any dollar for granted,” said Shari Jones, XOJET chief marketing officer.
XOJET planes – they have a fleet of fleet of Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger 300 jets — seat eight or nine people and are built for transcontinental flights, such as NYC to San Francisco or NYC to Los Angeles. Other popular destinations include the Caribbean, Jackson Hole, Big Sky Montana and locations in Florida. “All the destinations expected by an ultra-high-net-worth traveler,” Jones said.
And while charter plane companies will tell you there is no economic comparison to commercial travel, on-demand charter companies say their model is more cost effective and flexible than fractional private jet ownership, which can require a large capital investment and a three-to-five-year contract. Jones described the on-demand model as being similar to the hospitality industry, where hotels adjust room prices in order to stay filled.
Of course there’s always someone bigger and badder than you on the big runway of life. In this case, that would be owning your own plane. Consider the Gulfstream G650, which has a range of 7,000 miles, can seat 19, sleep 10 and costs around $65 million. That’s some time machine.