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The 8 Best Ways To Fly Private or Semi-Private [2023]

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Stephen Au
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Stephen Au

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Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used...
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In a world where privacy, luxury, and exclusivity are increasingly in-demand, many savvy travelers have developed an appreciation for private aviation.

The traditional belief that private jet travel is reserved only for the ultra-wealthy has been thrown out the window, thanks to a series of innovative companies disrupting the industry.

In some cases, getting a flight experience similar to that of a private jet can come at a lower price than some commercial flights!

In this guide, we’ll show you all of the best ways to fly private (or semi-private). Let’s get started!

The 8 Best Ways To Fly Private or Semi-Private

In today’s day and age, delivering an Uber-like experience to private aviation has become increasingly attractive.

As a result, all you need is a smartphone to book a private or semi-private jet flight!

1. JSX

JSX
Image Credit: JSX

JSX is one of the most popular airlines in this space — it exclusively operates a fleet of Embraer E135 and E145 jets (similar to what you’d find on a regional flight aboard the likes of United and Delta).

Instead of chartering your own private jet and paying tens of thousands of dollars, pay a fraction of the price to buy a seat in a jet on scheduled flights.

When compared to commercial aviation, you’ll find a few advantages:

  • Time savings from a streamlined security process
  • More spacing between seats for better social distancing
  • More legroom and cushioning at each seat
  • Lounge access (in certain cities)
  • Maximum capacity on the plane (30 seats on each jet compared to a few hundred)

Arguably, though, the most important benefit of JSX is the time savings — just walk a few steps from the entrance of the private terminal to clear security and walk onto your flight. You only need to arrive 20 minutes before your flight.

Here are some of JSX’s routes:

  • Austin (AUS) to/from Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Concord/Napa (CCR) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Concord/Napa (CCR) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Destin (VPS) to/from Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Destin (VPS) to/from Miami (MIA)
  • Houston-Hobby (HOU) to/from Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Lajitas (T89) to/from Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Lajitas (T89) to/from Houston-Hobby (HOU)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Dallas-Love Field (DAL)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Oakland (OAK)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Phoenix (PHX)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Reno-Tahoe (RNO)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from San Diego (SAN)
  • Monterey (MRY) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Monterey (MRY) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Oakland (OAK) to/from Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Oakland (OAK) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Phoenix (PHX) to/from Oakland (OAK)
  • Phoenix (PHX) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Reno-Tahoe (RNO) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Reno-Tahoe (RNO) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Miami (MIA)

It’s not unusual to find flights as low as $149 one-way, and you can even credit your JSX flights to JetBlue to earn TrueBlue points or to United to earn MileagePlus miles!

Overall, this is one of our go-to ways to get a private aviation experience at an affordable price tag.

2. Wheels Up

Wheels Up
Image Credit: Wheels Up

Wheels Up is one of the largest companies offering the ability to pay by the seat for scheduled flights, though Wheels Up requires a membership fee for these bookings. 

Wheels Up’s pricing and fee structure are a bit different than the other options we’ve profiled here — depending on what membership tier you belong to, you’ll pay a “capped hourly rate.”

For example, if you are part of Wheels Up’s Core Membership, chartering a King Air 350i might be capped at around $5,295 per hour, and large-cabin jets might be capped at around $13,000 per hour.

The entry-level membership, Connect, starts at $2,495 per year and has a $2,995 initiation fee.

In addition to being able to get discounted charter flights as a member, you can access signature events and more.

Hot Tip: One of the best benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express for private jet enthusiasts is the ability to get up to 40% off of your Wheels Up membership! Additionally, you can receive a $500 or $2,000 credit towards your initial flight within your first year (depending on your membership). View more details on the Premium Private Jet Program.

3. BLADE

BLADEone
Image Credit: BLADE

Although known mostly for its Uber-like services for helicopter transfers (primarily from Manhattan to New York City airports JFK, EWR, and LGA), BLADE also offers “per seat” bookings on other scheduled travel, including seaplanes and private jets. This service is known as BLADEone.

The BLADEone scheduled jet service has up to 16 travelers per plane, and it offers seasonal services usually around a particular occasion, such as a music festival, spring break, or ski season.

All of these flights come with in-flight dining and caviar service, plus 15-minute helicopter transfers between Manhattan and the BLADE Lounge Westchester.

BLADEone consists entirely of Bombardier CRJ 200s, which are normally built to accommodate 65 passengers.

Here are some of BLADEone’s routes:

  • Westchester (HPN) to Aspen (ASE)
  • Westchester (HPN) to Opa-locka (OPF) (Miami)
  • Westchester (HPN) to Palm Beach (PBI)

Beyond that, you can book a private jet charter outright or use FlightTilt, which allows you to launch your own flight.

Just commit to paying for 1 seat on a private jet charter, set a departure time, and specify your routing.

Then, wait to see if your flight attracts enough interest and is booked by enough other people to launch — after that, your payment will be processed.

If your flight hasn’t been booked by enough people to launch, it will get canceled and your credit card will not be charged.

For example, a flight from Van Nuys to Las Vegas would cost $5,495 as a private jet charter. But using FlightTilt would allow you to pay as little as $1,187 for a seat if enough people book the same flight.

You can even crowdsource a private jet charter, which allows you to pay upfront for a charter and have unused seats sold to others. Any sold seats are reimbursed in the form of BLADE credits.

Hot Tip: Before you book, check out our guide to the best credit cards for private jet travel.

4. Aero

Aero
Image Credit: Aero

Aero is yet another fantastic provider of semi-private flights, focusing on the most discerning travelers looking to optimize for aesthetics.

Just like JSX and BLADEone, Aero sells seats on shared, scheduled flights. The main difference is an elevated luxury experience where all seats have a window and direct aisle access.

There are 2 types of aircraft operated — Embraer E135s (16 seats in a 1-1 configuration) and Embraer Legacy 600s (12 seats in a 1-1 configuration).

You’ll enjoy flying between private terminals with the assistance of your private concierge, receive personalized service, and get a flexible change/cancellation policy up to 48 hours before departure.

Here are some of Aero’s current routes:

  • Aspen (ASE) to/from San Francisco (SFO)
  • Aspen (ASE) to/from Van Nuys (VNY)
  • Jackson Hole (JAC) to/from Van Nuys (VNY)
  • London-Farnborough (FAB) to/from Geneva (GVA)
  • London-Farnborough (FAB) to/from Ibiza (IBZ)
  • London-Farnborough (FAB) to/from Nice (NCE)
  • Los Cabos (SJD) to/from San Francisco (SFO)
  • Los Cabos (SJD) to/from Van Nuys (VNY)
  • Mykonos (JMK) to/from Ibiza (IBZ)
  • Sun Valley (SUN) to/from Van Nuys (VNY)

Usually, these flights hover around $1,000 one-way; the key exception is flights to/from Los Cabos, which are consistently double that. Also, European flights start at around $1,600 per person.

Bottom Line: Aero offers more customization, including drink and snack requests — although this airline has variable check-in times depending on the destination, and no free Wi-Fi or entertainment. There’s an impressive lounge experience, and the onboard experience and concierge benefits are special.

5. Surf Air

Surf Air
Image Credit: Surf Air

Surf Air is an intriguing membership service that allows you to book semi-private flights with a 30-second booking process.

It exclusively operates a fleet of Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop planes with a capacity of up to 8 travelers.

Although you can certainly charter private flights on-demand using Surf Air, it’s most known for its “pay by the seat” model that members can access for as little as $199 per month.

Expect to spend around $200 for each one-way flight. Here are some of its routes:

  • Burbank (BUR) to/from Concord (CCR)
  • Burbank (BUR) to/from Phoenix (PHX)
  • Burbank (BUR) to/from Reno-Tahoe (RNO)
  • Dallas-Love Field (DAL) to/from Austin (AUS)
  • Dallas-Love Field (DAL) to/from Houston-Hobby (HOU)
  • Hawthorne (HHR) to/from Oakland (OAK)
  • Hawthorne (HHR) to/from San Carlos (SQL)
  • Hawthorne (HHR) to/from Santa Barbara (SBA)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Burbank (BUR)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Oakland (OAK)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Phoenix (PHX)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) to/from Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Oakland (OAK) to/from Santa Ana (SNA)
  • Oakland (OAK) to/from Santa Barbara (SBA)
  • Oakland (OAK) to/from Truckee (TRK)
  • Truckee (TRK) to/from San Carlos (SAL)

Hot Tip: Try to utilize “empty legs” to save a big of money while still flying private.

6. Set Jet

Set Jet
Image Credit: Set Jet

Set Jet is yet another membership-based company exclusively offering scheduled flights on snazzy Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft or Bombardier CRJ200s.

These planes accommodate 13 to 16 travelers, and the Set Jet experience boasts an ultra-VIP configuration — think couches, lavish upholstery, high-gloss wood, marble, and carpet.

You’ll enjoy complimentary top-shelf alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, plus free Wi-Fi and snacks.

The membership fee is paid month-to-month at a price of $99.95. There’s a one-time security check fee of $99.95. After these are paid, access any of its regional domestic flights from $560 one-way, and its seasonal services to Cabo and Aspen from $1,300 one-way.

Here are some of its routes:

  • Dallas-Love Field (DAL) to/from Austin (AUS)
  • Dallas-Love Field (DAL) to/from Houston-Hobby (HOU)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Aspen (ASE)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Cabo San Lucas (CSL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Scottsdale (SDL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) to/from Westchester (HPN)
  • San Diego (SAN) to/from Scottsdale (SDL)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to/from Las Vegas (LAS)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to/from Los Angeles (LAX)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to/from Orange County (SNA)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to/from San Diego (SAN)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Opa-locka (OPF) (Miami)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from West Palm Beach (PBI)

7. XO

XO
Image Credit: XO

XO is one of the largest private aviation companies in the U.S. It operates a fleet of the Challenger 300 and the Citation X, each of which can be booked by its non-members or members.

Non-members pay $395 extra per flight, and XO memberships start at $595 per year.

Flights include complimentary food and drinks.

Shared seats are currently limited to:

  • Munich (MUC) to/from London-Luton (LTN)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from West Palm Beach (PBI)
  • Zurich (ZRH) to/from London-Luton (LTN)

You can also view XO’s current jet deals, which compile shared charters and whole jets into a single, convenient location.

8. Tradewind Aviation

Tradewinds Aviation
Image Credit: Tradewinds Aviation

Tradewind Aviation is famous for its premium intra-Caribbean services. You can either book a private charter or snag seats on scheduled, shared charters.

This airline exclusively operates Pilatus PC-12 aircraft with room for up to 8 passengers.

It’s one of the few companies that offer a frequent flyer program, as well as interchangeable tickets with family and friends! You’ll also access flexible ticket terms and free changes.

This firm focuses on flights within the Caribbean or the Northeast. For example, check out these scheduled routes in the Northeast:

  • Teterboro (TEB) to/from Martha’s Vineyard (MVY)
  • Teterboro (TEB) to/from Nantucket (ACK)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Martha’s Vineyard (MVY)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Nantucket (ACK)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Newport (NPT)
  • Westchester (HPN) to/from Stowe (MVL)

And check out these scheduled routes in the Caribbean:

  • San Juan (SJU) to/from Anguilla (AXA)
  • San Juan (SJU) to/from Antigua (ANU)
  • San Juan (SJU) to/from St. Barths (SBH)
  • St. Barths (SBH) to/from Anguilla (AXA)
  • St. Barths (SBH) to/from Antigua (ANU)
  • St. Thomas (STT) to/from St. Barths (SBH)

Prices start at around $100 per seat — and unlike other jet companies mentioned here, Tradewind Aviation maintains and operates all of its flights!

Final Thoughts

All in all, it’s easier than ever to get a private jet-like experience without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars per flight.

With the advent of “semi-private” aviation, you can get much of the time savings and luxurious treatment you’d expect from a private jet charter without the huge price tag.

In today’s environment, there are plenty of players competing in the semi-private space, so you’re bound to find great deals!

Just look for the route you’d like to book and use your smartphone!

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest way to fly private?

The cheapest way to fly private is to book semi-private flights using the “pay by the seat” model. With companies such as JSX, Tradewinds Aviation, and Surf Air, you can get a private jet-like experience for just a couple hundred dollars!

How much does it cost to fly privately?

It depends on what type of aircraft you’re flying and how far you fly.

For example, a private charter from Los Angeles to Las Vegas will generally start at $10,000, and a private jet charter from Los Angeles to New York around $40,000.

What is the cheapest private plane to rent?

The cheapest private plane to rent will generally be the smallest. These are typically turboprops or very light jets (VLJs). Just remember that these planes usually also have the lowest occupancy allowance.

Is there an Uber for private jets?

Yes, there are many companies offering an Uber-like experience for booking private jets. These include BLADE, XO, and JSX.

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About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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