Private Jet or First Class? A Cost Comparison using an Estimator

If you have disposable income, the big question is, should you fly first class or should you take a private jet? Although a private jet is sure to set you back more, the question is how much more? And if you’re getting more luxury and benefits in exchange, those extra costs may be worth it. Let’s do a cost comparison between the two using an estimator.

Flying With a Private Jet

When you fly with a private jet, you will be billed by the hour. So, for a four-hour flight at $3,500 an hour, you will be billed $14,000. This is just the base fee. In addition to the base fee, there are other fees. These include catering, the landing fee, taxes, and so on. The per-hour fee does depend on the type of plane, too.

Three major factors go into how a private jet will bill you:

  • The length of your flight
  • The type of plane you’re flying
  • Additional services, such as catering

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to pay:

If you choose a Very Light Jet (VLJ), you will pay an average operating cost of about $1,800 – $2,300 an hour. These seat around 4-6 people. A light jet has an average operating cost of about $2,500 – $3,600 an hour.

If you choose a mid-size jet that offers more comfort, expect to pay an average operating cost of about $3,200 – $5,000 an hour. These seat 7 people. On the other hand, a super mid-size jet seats 9 people and has an average operating cost of about $6,950 – $8,495 per hour.

Finally, the ultra-long-range jet is often used for international travel. These jets can accommodate around 12-19 people. The average operating cost is about $10,000 – $12,000 an hour.

Cost Breakdown of Flying on a Private Jet

A private jet cost estimator typically includes the following when it bills you.

  • Base fee: Cost of plane x hours
  • Fuel surcharge: Cost of fuel
  • Landing fees: Airport fee for services
  • Ramp/Handling fees: Operators charge a fee to park the plane
  • Crew fees: Pilot, co-pilot, flight crew
  • Catering charges: Drinks, snacks, in-flight meals
  • Overnight expenses: For international flights
  • Cleaning of the aircraft: Cleaning fee after the trip
  • Taxes: Federal Excise tax, International head tax, Alaska/Hawaii head tax
  • Segment fee: Billed per passenger
  • Extra charges: Wi-Fi on board, special requests for pets, etc

The Cost of Flying First Class

When you fly first class, you will be charged the base fare, taxes and fees, and baggage fees. International travel is far more expensive than domestic travel, and peak season will also affect flight prices.

As an example, a first-class ticket from New York to Los Angeles is around $2,397 round trip for the non-peak season. This is broken down as follows:

  • Base fee = $2,200
  • Passenger facility charge within the U.S = $9
  • Segment tax = $9.60
  • Transportation tax = $165.21
  • U.S security fee = $11.20

However, a round-trip first-class ticket will jump up to $5,500 during peak season.

Comparing a Private Jet to First Class

Now that you have broken down the two ways to travel, let’s do a direct comparison. A flight from NY to LA is roughly 4.7 hours. You can compare two different first-class tickets next to one private jet on a mid-size plane.

First-class ticket (round-trip) from NY to LA during the non-peak season: $2,400

First-class ticket (round-trip) from NY to LA during peak season: $5,500

Private jet from NY to LA (one-way, on a mid-size jet): $32,665 – $39,927

Private jet from NY to LA (one way, on a heavy jet): $40,000 – $48,000

Final Thoughts

It’s clear that a first-class ticket is considerably lower than the cost of a private jet. However, a private jet does offer conveniences and benefits that first-class passengers don’t have. These benefits include scheduling, not having to deal with cancelled flights or delays, and being able to fly into specific airports.

Author:  Chaz Elban