Who actually travels by private jet? What destinations do they fly to? How much does a ritzy ride through the clouds really cost?
The exclusive world of airplanes-for-hire seem a million (air) miles away from how many of us fly, but studies into the who, what, when and where of private jet use reveal some surprising facts.
They suggest there's a new private aviation landscape at work, with chartering private jets -- not owning them -- becoming the new normal for the world's super rich.
Who owns a private jet?
Perhaps unsurprisngly, actually owning a private jet costs a fortune. It's only an option for the top percent of ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI -- people whose assets are worth at least $30 million.)
More than one in three (35%) of private jet owners are worth more than a jaw-dropping $500 million, according to the Jet Traveler Report 2018, compiled by Wealth-X and private jet charter company VistaJet. The majority are over 60 and 91% of the group made some or all of their wealth themselves.
Their top industry? Finance, banking and investment: 19% of private jet owners are associated with the economic sector.
But this doesn't mean a dip in the exclusive aircraft circling the globe.
Some travelers choose to be a member of a private aviation program -- an attractive option for frequent fliers who don't want to be held up because their personal aircraft is out of service. This proportion of ultra wealthy fliers also work predominately in finance, banking and investment, according to the Jet Traveler Report.
There's also been a rise in use of on-demand apps and charter websites such as PrivateFly and VistaJet.
Thanks to these sites, you can book a private jet for a trip happening next week, tomorrow or even in the next couple of hours. PrivateFly reports that the fastest time from booking inquiry to takeoff in the first half of 2018 was a speedy 1 hour, 14 minutes and 39 seconds.
Most popular destinations
According to PrivateFly's latest customer insights report, London tops the rankings for most popular global destination among PrivateFly customers. The London to Paris private jet route is a particularly sought-after ticket. This is unsurprising, as PrivateFly is a UK-based company, with mostly Europeans on board.
If you fancy flying London to Paris on a six-seater Citation CJ2 plane via PrivateFly, that'll set you back -7,800, roughly $9,240.
Knight Frank's Wealth Report pinpoints the New York to Washington flight path as the most popular route overall -- with 5,106 private flights embarking on this route over the course of 2017.
Paris is the second most popular global destination among PrivateFly travelers, followed by Los Angeles -- which also takes the accolade of most popular US destination.
Knight Frank says Los Angeles to Las Vegas is the second most popular route overall, with 4,753 flights over the course of 2017.
"Its role as an epicenter of sports, entertainment, culture and business make Los Angeles a natural pivot point," comments Geoff Villano, Senior Vice President of Sales and Operations at PrivateFly, in a statement.
PrivateFly also reports an increase in domestic UK flights -- the British cities of Manchester and Birmingham made the top 10 for the first time.
Popular tourist spots Nice, in the south of France, and Las Vegas, in the United States, are also some of the world's most popular private jet destinations.
"The prominence of Las Vegas as a convention city coupled with its reputation for being America's adult playground make it a natural private jet destination," says Villano.
Who travels by private jet?
PrivateFly's most recent report reveals that 72% of its private jet charter passengers are male, with an average age of 39.
That's not a blip: according to the Jet Traveler's report, the majority of private jet travelers are male -- period.
The stereotype of a rock star sipping champagne on tap might be the exception, not the rule, but the private jet world is far from inclusive.
The world of private jet travel touches on some fundamental societal inequalities. It's the realm of the uber rich, and that world is predominantly male.
However reports suggest the experience is becoming (ever so slightly) more accessible through the rise of booking platforms.
You don't need to be quite as inordinately wealthy to charter a private jet -- the Jet Traveler report suggests more women order jets on demand, rather than own them personally.
The average age of a private jet owner might be 60, but in 2017 VistaJet saw the average age of private jet charter passengers drop from 40 to 38, a shift the company expects to continue into this year. Similarly, PrivateFly saw the average age for a charter passenger drop from 41 to 39.
PrivateFly points to the younger clientele being more comfortable using mobile phones to search and book.
"The technology allowing them to do that faster and easier -- including PrivateFly -- is on the rise," says Villano. "This trend will only increase as emerging millennial customers become the core private jet users."
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