As Uber has become the biggest transportation-industry disruptor since perhaps the locomotive, and even the first-class sections of commercial airlines are withering in services and shrinking in size, private-jet operators have seized a golden opportunity. A number of companies now offer the chance to book seats on a private or semiprivate plane, in as long as it takes you to tap a few keys on an app, for a fraction of the cost of a traditional charter (which can cost upward of $5,000 an hour). Here are five of the biggest contenders.
Cost: $9,000 annual fee, with $1,000 initiation fee
What you get: Unlimited flights on your choice of 3,000 Gulfstream, Challenger or Falcon jets, bookable by app. You can fly on a pre-scheduled shuttle routes, book your own, or charter a jet anywhere in the world. It’s backed by serious star power: Jay-Z and the Saudi royal family have reportedly invested, and the company recently named former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge to its Board of Directors. jetsmarter.com
Cost: No membership fee; flights priced individually.
What you get: Helicopter, seaplane, or semiprivate Gulfstream jet service to a number of destinations in the northeast, Miami and Palm Beach. Using the Blade app, you can join a pre-scheduled flight or crowdsource your own. We found a flight from New York City to the Hamptons, leaving in one hour, for $595, and a flight to Miami in a week for $2,250. flyblade.com
Cost: $1,950 per month, with a $1,000 initiation fee
What you get: Unlimited flights between the 12 West Coast cities on their roster, including Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay, Napa, Palm Springs and Los Vegas. All flights leave from private airports; a concierge greets you and escorts you to your plane, no waiting. surfair.com
Cost: $9,700 per month (individual), $12,700 per month (plus one), $14,700 per month (corporate)
What you get: Two round trips on a Gulfstream IV between ClipperJet’s cities, which include transcontinental flights. (A Corporate membership gives you four monthly flights.) In perhaps the best perk on this list, last-minute planning pays. If you book a seat within 24 hours of takeoff, you get it for free — it doesn’t count against your monthly allotment. And if you don’t use your monthly flights, you can roll them forward. flyclipperjet.com