Gone are the days when booking a private jet required a long conversation on the phone. With mobile apps, flyers can now book charter flights in minutes.
Major players in private aviation as well as emerging competitors now have apps. Many follow a similar process: customers choose where to come from and where to arrive, choose dates and their preferred aircraft size.
Private aviation company Sentient Jet, which primarily focuses on travel to the US, recorded $ 50 million in bookings through its app in 2020 alone. More than $ 125 million has been booked for mobile bookings since the app launched in late 2017, CEO Andrew Collins told CNBC a video call. He anticipates that up to half of Sentient Jet’s bookings will be made through the app in the next three to four years.
He said private aviation “felt a little less a premium service than a utility for a lot of people” over the past year and suggested that apps would become indispensable to the industry in the future rather than just “nice” – to-have “function.
According to Collins, booking through the Sentient Jet app takes two to three minutes.
The app also lowers the average age of Sentient Jet customers from their mid-60s to a “much broader band” who are “getting younger,” he said.
The Sentient Jet app is only available to holders of its jet card, which the operator claims to have invented more than 20 years ago and which is common in the industry today.
Jet card programs vary by company, but the basic concept is based on paying a deposit for fixed hourly rates.
In the case of Sentient Jet, customers can pay approximately $ 150,000 for 25 hours on a light aircraft, and the hours are debited from the cardholder’s account with each trip. Rides can range from around $ 5,800 per hour for a light aircraft to just under $ 11,000 for a one-way trip on a large cabin aircraft, Collins explained.
Mobile apps used by younger customers make booking private jets easier and faster.
Before jet cards hit the market, Collins said people could really book a private jet by just chartering or renting the plane and buying an entire plane (or a fraction of it).
Collins said the growth of apps in personal aviation is really a “natural extension” of the jet card.
Thomas Flohr, founder of private aviation company Vista Global, similarly emailed CNBC that customers who book private jets traditionally “call their agent or email with a travel request have to wait hours to get one Get response with offers, get opaque prices and then sign a physical contract. “
Vista Global launched an app in November to expand its online booking platform XO. It is free to use for any customer. Flohrclaimed both the online platform and the appCustomers can book in “seconds”.
XO users have the option to “crowdfund” a flight by essentially buying only one seat on the aircraft instead of the entire flight.
“Overization” of private jets
The private aviation company Wheels Up has a similar feature that allows customers to use the “Shared Flights Board” feature in their app to view the flights on offer and share them with other users.
Kenny Dichter, CEO of Wheels Up, said the advent of apps represents the “overization” of jet booking.
The Wheels Up app is free for both members and non-members. However, prices and availability are different for members who have access to their own performance portal via the app.
JetASAP is perhaps the most different from these more established names as it claims to be the premier marketplace for free jet charter. CEO Lisa Kiefer Sayer, who founded the company in 2018, stated that the app shows bookings that are available with various charter companies.
She said the coronavirus pandemic had “a huge impact” on its users’ demographics.
Typically charter planes were worth $ 10 to 20 million net worth, but she said the pandemic opened the market to people with a net worth of $ 2 to 3 million.
Sayer said half of the JetASAP app users are experienced private aviators while the other half are new to private aviation.