The cost of chartering a private jet is calculated by multiplying the flight time by the hourly rate, plus expenses. The flight time is calculated using one of several flight-planning programs designed to calculate estimated flight times. The flight times are calculated taking into account aircraft speed, typical winds and anticipated routing by air traffic control and are estimated to the nearest 1/10th of an hour. The hourly rate is dependant on the aircraft class.
The estimated flight time from New York to Nassau is 2 hours and 54 minutes, or 2.9 hours, and the return flight is estimated at 2 hours and 48 minutes or 2.8 hours. The total round-trip flight time is 5.7 hours. This is the number of hours the rate will be multiplied by to get our cost.
Aircraft hourly rates are dependant on aircraft size. There are three common size classes, based on cabin dimensions: light or small jets, mid-size or medium jets, and heavy or full-size jets. For a more information on aircraft cabin sizes and performance, please visit this jet charter fleet gallery. Light jets typically cost around $2,500 per flight hour, mid-size jets cost around $3,200 per flight hour and heavy jets cost on average $4,500 per hour and up.
Back to the Bahamas. If we multiply our flight estimate of 5.7 hours by the hourly rate of a mid-size jet of $3,200 per hour, our base flight charges come to $18,240.
In addition to flight charges, the charterer is responsible for all charges incurred during the trip, including over-night charges, landing fees, International fees, catering and flight-phone usage.
Flying a plane is expensive so it’s typical for the plane to wait while the passengers go some place. On our trip to The Bahamas, the plane will be staying overnight for three nights, from Thursday through Saturday night. The costs associated with parking the plane and covering expenses of the flight crew are borne by the charterer. These costs are typically charged at a flat rate of $600 per night. These charges add $1,800 to the cost of our charter.
Running and maintaining an airport is an expensive proposition. One of the ways airports collect revenue is by charging a fee to every plane that uses the airport. These charges are appropriately called landing fees. Our flight to the Bahamas will land twice, once in the Bahamas and again in New York on the return flight. Landing fees generally run $150 per landing for a mid-size jet so this will add $300 to the cost of the charter.
The Bahamas is outside of the United States. Flying internationally requires permits, and permits mean paperwork. Permits must be obtained from Customs and Immigrations in the Bahamas granting permission for the plane, crew, and passengers to land and enter the country, as well as from United States Customs and Immigrations for the return. The cost of having these documents prepared for a charter is passed on to the charterer. International fees for the Bahamas will add approximately $1,500 to the cost of the charter.
Standard catering on a private jet includes full beverage service and light snacks. Passengers often want to enhance their flying experience by ordering a special meal service or a special beverage service and the cost of service is passed along to the charterer. Sandwiches and beer will add around $100. Champagne and Caviar could add as much as $1,000. Additionally, the aircraft is equipped with a flight-phone. Usage is billed at cost when incurred.
So let’s recap:
Flight Charges $18,240
Overnight fees $1,800
Landing fees $300
International fees $1,500
Total Cost $22,140
This is the total cost for the plane. A mid-size jet can generally seat 8 passengers so the cost would be the same if we had one passenger or eight.
In response to our original question of “So how much does it really cost to charter a private jet?”, I guess the long answer is $22,140 if you’re going from New York to the Bahamas for a long weekend. If you have 8 passengers and you figure the cost at around $2,750 per passenger, the short answer is as we said “Not as much as you’d think”.