- You Often Get What You Pay For
Though you may occasionally find an amazing one way rate from a quality operator, the general rule of thumb is that if a price sounds too good to be true, it likely is. You typically get what you pay for, and charter is not a price matching business. While most operators will work with you, if someone provides a low ball price, don’t expect other operators to lower their prices in response. Most importantly, when a price is really cheap, it may come at the expense of service quality and safety.
- Treat the Aircraft Like You Own It
Most charter aircraft are owned by individuals who allow charter operators to use the aircraft for charter when not in use by the owner. To avoid exorbitant damage fees, as well as possible banning by the operator, it pays to treat the aircraft the same way you would want someone else to treat it if it was yours.
- Private Planes Break Just Like Airliners
Private aircraft are typically highly reliable when maintained properly, but they are not immune to mechanical issues. Just like airliners break sometimes after you’ve boarded and are ready to leave, private aircraft can do the same. Most operators maintain what is called a minimum equipment list for each aircraft which lists what is required for a flight and what can be deferred to minimize unnecessary cancellations. It never hurts to ask if the aircraft you’ve chartered has one. Without it, absolutely anything, including a light bulb, can ground a flight.
- Don’t Forget Your ID Because You Can’t Fly Without It
Make sure to bring a current government issued ID on every flight if you don’t want to be left behind. Since 9/11, the Transportation Security Agency has implemented a no-fly list, and every passenger, whether traveling via the airlines or private charter, must be checked against this list, so identity verification is required.
- Not All Planes Are Created Equal
Every aircraft model is built for a specific mission, and it’s therefore a good idea to charter different types of aircraft to get a better idea of which will work best for your needs. For instance, some jets can hold a lot of passengers but not much luggage, while others may have a larger cabin but shorter range. To avoid any problems on departure day, it’s always a good idea to ask specific questions prior to booking to confirm that the aircraft can comfortably accommodate your passenger, luggage and amenity requirements. Nobody likes to leave their golf clubs behind!
- A Higher Safety Rating Doesn’t Always Mean A Safer Charter Operator
While safety ratings are a great way to quickly differentiate charter operators that have spent the time and money to put formal safety practices into place, a superior rating does not always translate into a safer operation. Given the cost and time required to maintain certain formal standards, many operators choose to forgo them while still employing safety practices that exceed the FAA minimum requirements for on demand air taxi operators. Others hold a lower rating, such as ARGUS Gold or Wyvern Registered, but maintain a higher actual standard. In the case where the operator holds any rating, you can request an ARGUS TripCheq report or Wyvern PASS report to determine an operator’s safety status when it comes to crew experience and other factors. Additionally, if the operator holds no ratings, it is always a good idea to ask them how long they have been in business, whether they have ever had any incidents or accidents, how much experience the aircraft’s crew has with regard to total time, time in jet powered aircraft and time in aircraft type, as well as if they use a flight risk analysis tool to score the risk level of each flight.
- Traveling Last Minute May Be More Difficult In the Current Environment
In the current COVID environment, the more notice you can provide, the better the chances of making your flight happen. With ever-changing travel restrictions, a last minute trip can often be accomodated, but the operator may not be able to accommodate every request. If you plan on traveling internationally, you should be aware that regulations and restrictions can vary greatly based on your destination, so the more time that you give an operator to plan, the better your chances of having a smooth and successful trip.
- Charter Crews Have Duty Time Restrictions Too
Crew duty time limitations and rest requirements are the same for airline and charter crews, and include a maximum 14 hour duty day with no more than 10 hours of flying in a 24 hour period. These requirements are not adjustable due to COVID impacts, so you should plan accordingly when creating your trip request to avoid unnecessary trip delays.
- If You Need Something, Just Ask
Most charter aircraft are filled with all kinds of tasty treats, drinks, blankets, and pillows which are usually stowed for flight. Charter aircraft crews are more than happy to make sure you are comfortable, so if you need something, all you have to do is ask. This includes adjusting the cabin temperature to your liking. It’s worth noting, however, that due to COVID, many specialty catering and other stock items can be temporarily hard to come by due to supply chain issues.
- COVID Is Affecting Ground Service Response Time, So Plan Accordingly to Avoid Delays
Some service providers, such as airports, FBOs, rental car agencies and caterers are working with reduced staffing right now which may impact service response time. When it comes to vehicle rental especially, it’s a good idea to have a membership number with all of the major rental car companies to make rampside car pickup fast and easy. When it comes to catering, be sure that you provide your order as early as possible to ensure timely delivery.