Whether you're a million-miler or a once-a-year traveler, you'll likely agree that commercial air travel has become a hassle. For those few that can afford it, owning your own plane could be considered the epitome of luxury. That option becomes available to more individuals and businesses with the various forms of fractional ownership, charters and shares packaged by the type of plane or hour. Blackjet, the latest innovator in the luxury travel space, has devised a booking model that enables most of the private travel experience at a dramatically reduced cost for seats on private planes, opening up the experience to a much larger group of travelers.
We were fortunate to try out Blackjet on a trip between New York and Miami and were dangerously impressed. Blackjet sells seats on flights, not entire planes, which means the experience is technically semi-private. Regardless, we found the notion of being on a flight with a few strangers in tighter quarters—as opposed to a hundred of them on a larger plane—well worth the convenience, fluidity and accommodation Blackjet offers. This included super-simple online booking, driving ourselves to Teterboro airport and having the car valet parked and our luggage whisked away before boarding with CH mascots, Sealyham terriers Otis and Logan, in tow. And as with most private travel, no need to pass through scanners and baggage checks—you simply walk a few feet from the terminal to your plane.
The Blackjet experience starts by procuring a membership. Existing members can invite friends, and get incentives for doing so. Fortunately we have a promo code to share with you, but more on that later. Signup involves authorizing a $2,500 membership fee, which is charged along with your first flight. From there you can browse the "Deals" section, which lists upcoming flights that have available seats. Deal seats are offered at a 10-20% discount from the regular seat fare. If a deal isn't available for your desired destination and time you can book a regular seat, which is guaranteed so long as you're at least two days ahead of travel time. Regular-priced seats cost anywhere from $1,700 for a flight between New York and South Florida (charters for these regional jets typically cost $20-$30,000) to $3,500 coast-to-coast.
The value of Blackjet increases the more you use it. Booking flights and referring members earns you complimentary seats for yourself or a companion as well as other freebies like limo services and catering. If using a complimentary companion seat at booking the cost comes down to $850 per seat on shorter flights and when you factor in free "Deal" seats the total cost per year gets even more reasonable. While the scheme doesn't make private travel accessible to everyone by any means, it is a game changer in the private travel segment.
Blackjet's innovative model works based on a mix of filling planes that otherwise would be traveling empty and achieving efficiency with the right volume of bookings. The team behind Blackjet isn't new to the game—CEO Dean Rotchin is an aviation industry veteran and the founder of Green Jets, a jet share service started four years ago. With new money from the investor team behind the similarly inspired car service Uber, Green Jets has been reborn as Blackjet. The service currently has flights between New York, LA and South Florida, and travel to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, DC, Boston, Dallas and Seattle is coming online by Spring 2013. They are also happy to charter flights to any destination at more traditional rates.
Blackjet will only succeed if it scales, and as it does the incentives for members get even better—which means the time to join is now. Blackjet has offered CH readers the option to join and get one complimentary companion seat ($3,500 value) plus three invite codes for friends. Go to blackjet.com and enter the code COOLBLACKJET100 to sign up.
Images by Josh Rubin