Private travel expert outlines important differences from commercial travel
Where will your vacation take you this summer? London? Paris?The French Riviera? If you want to fly by private jet, it’s not too early to start planning. Booking a private jet flight to Europe requires very special expertise. There are dozens of fees, permits and other considerations that you or your travel consultant need to know about to ensure a successful trip.
The XOJET Blog spoke with Clayton Smith, senior charter sales representative, to compile a list of five tips to ensure a smooth flight experience and a great vacation.
1. Plan in advance. The more advance planning you do, the more choices you’ll have. “For example, if you plan 6 months out, you could have twice the aircraft options available to you,” says Clayton. “A good rule of thumb is that the longer the flight, the further out you should plan.” Foreign-flagged aircraft typically need several permits to enter other countries, which can take time to obtain, especially if you’re travelling to multiple destinations. Try to book at least eight to 12 weeks in advance.
2. Be flexible. “Flying privately to Europe is quite different from flying on a commercial airline,” explains Clayton. “Some airports have customs offices, some don’t. We have to take this into account when we plan, especially with customers who want non-stop travel.” The more specific you are about your trip, the fewer cost-saving options will be available to you. However, if you can also be flexible on things like jet type, aircraft year of manufacture, date and time of travel, and airport, we can find the best price and options available. For example, flying into a general aviation airport like Paris’s Le Bourget could be much less expensive than flying into Charles DeGaulle.
3. Tell us everything. When you call to book your flight, we’ll start by asking you not only for the dates and times of your trip but also your requirements and preferences. The more you let us know up front, the more options we can deliver. When we have complete information such as the size of your party (including pets!), aircraft preferences (if any), if you are willing to consider options that require a fuel stop, dietary restrictions and the like, we can deliver options to meet your exact needs—and a customized flight experience in the air. Again, being flexible your requirements can dramatically impact the options and prices available.
4. Remember Customs. You’re no doubt aware that when you travel internationally, you’ll need to go through Customs when returning home. But where you clear customs depends on whether you are on the aircraft operator’s Border Overflight Exemption (BOE) program. Getting you an operator’s BOE could take as long as two to three weeks, and you’ll need to provide passport information for every passenger—so allow enough time. “The BOE is particularly important for non-stop flights,” adds Clayton. “Check to see if your provider offers a BOE program. Otherwise you’ll have to stop to clear customs at the first point of entry into a country, possibly delaying your return home.”
On a related note, if a minor child is traveling with just one parent, the other parent will need to provide a notarized letter authorizing the child to leave the country. This can be important if your spouse and kids are planning to join you in, say, Paris, after you finish your business trip.
5. Pick the right aircraft for your flight. If you want to fly non-stop, consider a large-cabin heavy jet. For flights from the East Coast, the Gulfstream G-IV series is the smallest heavy jet that flies nonstop to and from Europe in either direction; other options include the Bombardier Challenger 600 series or the Dassault Falcon 2000 series. All of these jets can typically fly from the northeast United States to most destinations in Western Europe nonstop. However, for the return flight to the United States, these aircraft will likely require a fuel stop.
For flights from the West Coast, you’ll need to upgrade to ultra-long-range aircraft like the Gulfstream V or G550, the Falcon 7X or the Bombardier Global Express/5000. Super-mid-size jets like the XOJET Citation X and XOJET Challenger 300 will need to make a fuel stop (usually in Iceland, Canada or Maine) when flying to and from Europe. Watch this blog for an upcoming in-depth comparison of these aircraft.
At XOJET, we can arrange any of these aircraft for you through our own fleet and through the XOJET Preferred Partner Network, a carefully vetted list of the best operators.
Bottom line: it’s the little details that can affect your flight experience. Work with a private aviation consultant who has booked international travel before and can handle all the details. Make sure your consultant has the trip management capabilities to handle a European trip and can give you an all-inclusive price, including fuel (measured by the liter, fuel is much more expensive in Europe).
The XOJET team has extensive experience arranging for private jet trips to Europe and the rest of the world. They know what airports have the tougher permits and the most traffic, and which have customs offices. They also know the airports that charge less for fuel and landing fees. For example, flying into London Luton can possibly save you thousands in fuel costs, permits, and landing fees over flying into a high-volume airport like Heathrow or one that requires special permits, like London City.
A good aviation consultant will give you those options, make suggestions, and handle all of the details for you. Bon voyage!
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