One of the things that the pandemic has allowed us to do is to break old patterns of thinking and ways of doing things. One of those old patterns of thinking is flying commercial because private might be too expensive, especially for short hops. But that’s old information, and some new airlines are offering a truly enjoyable travel experience at reasonable prices.
What’s Semi-Private Air Travel?
It’s exactly what it sounds like. It combines some of the aspects of private air travel with the lower costs of flying commercial. These airlines simply pool those who want to opt out of the traditional cattle-call process. Benefits include:
- No crowds (you are in a different terminal)
- No security lines (again, no crowds)
- No super-early arrival (most of these semi-private carriers tell you to arrive 30 minutes -— yes, you’re reading that correctly — before your flight. One even says 15 minutes is fine)
- High-touch customer service
- Children and pets are often welcome
Okay, where’s the catch, you might ask. Fair question. Firstly, you’re not going to have hundreds of flight options across half a dozen airlines. But you’ll still likely have flights in the times that you need.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- You’re in the private terminal where there are not a lot of shops or restaurants or even your favorite lounges. But if you don’t need those, this isn’t a drawback.
- Parking options may be more limited at the terminal itself, but you can always use a car service or park offsite.
- There are not usually seatback entertainment options, but you can always bring a book or download a few episodes of a series you want to catch up on before boarding.
Some Airlines to Consider
So, now that we’ve got you thinking about the possibility of semi-private travel, we wanted to highlight three different airlines that represent different ways of thinking about it.
While JSX primarily focuses on lots of intrastate flights in California, but also flies to Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Miami, and NYC (out of Westchester County).
Fares on their 30-seat planes run as low as $119 with two checked bags included and snacks and drinks onboard.
JSX Aero’s planes seat 16 and are custom-designed with black livery. The design doesn’t stop with the paint job. They have comfy hand-stitched Italian leather seat covers, custom suede sidewalls, and dynamic lighting, just a few little touches to remind you that it’s okay to look good while you travel.
Aero also offers a concierge service for booking car services to and from your destinations and can customize food and beverage options to your preferences.
Flights from LA to Vegas are $950, London to Milan $1625, and SF to Aspen and LA to Cabo are at $1900. These fares include one carry-on and one piece of checked luggage.
While JSX and Aero might feel familiar to you, SurfAir is pushing the envelope in terms of getting you to think differently about semi-private air travel. How about a mobile app to book your flights and a subscription model? Seriously.
For $199/month you get access to the whole network on a per seat basis. For $999/month you get unlimited access to off-peak flights and some peak flights. If you want it all, at $2999/month you get unlimited travel, period.
It’s a new year. Maybe it’s time for a new way to travel, too.
Have you flown semi-private with any of these airlines (or with another we didn’t mention) before? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
Photo courtesy of Aero.com