Chartering an Aircraft
How to charter an aircraft for business or family travel; understand the choice of destinations and how to book a charter for an emergency flight...
Private charter aircraft are used for both business and leisure travel. The primary benefit of a private charter is the flexibility afforded the passenger who may depart from any airport of their choice and at a time that suits them.
There are thousands of aircraft to choose from: helicopters, propjets, executive jets and VIP aircraft. Dependent upon a chosen destination and the number of passengers travelling, a selection of suitable aircraft are usually available in a range of prices.
Itinerary and Destinations
A reserving party may change the itinerary prior to, or even during the flight provided the changes are within flight crews flying limitations which are imposed by aviation licencing authorities such as the Civil Aviation Authority CAA.
Overflights of landmarks may also be permitted if prior approval has been given and there are no air traffic control restrictions in force.
Note: Changes to itinerary and flight route may effect and alter the overall cost of the charter.
Travel Documents and Passports
All British citizens need to carry a passport, including when flying within the EU.
Non-EU citizens must also carry a valid passport fitted with any visas necessary for the destinations.
European citizens from member nations of the Schengen Agreement do not need to travel with their passports. The Schengen agreement was set up to abolish internal borders between a number of European countries to allow its citizens to move freely without passport controls. That said, it is recommended, regardless of Schengen, to always carry a passport when travelling from one country to another. (The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen agreement).
On all private charters, passengers must submit passport details (full names, dates of birth, passport number, expiry date and nationality) to the charter company which will forward them to the customs and immigration services of the countries being travelled to. This will enable the passengers to clear the customs and immigration formalities in advance. However, for security purposes, passengers might still be asked to produce documentation at the airport.
If a visa is required to enter a country then it is the responsibility of the passengers to ensure all documentation and permits have been received prior to the flight.
Check-in and Departure
Generally passengers need only arrive at the departure airport 20 to 30 minutes prior to the agreed departure time.
When chartering a flight the reserving passenger pays for the aircraft and crew rather than a cost "per head". The reserving party may therefore invite additional passengers to their group providing the broker is informed so that additional catering, newspapers, magazines and passport information can be arranged.
Baggage and What May be Taken On-board
Most modern private jets have very generous luggage holds, which can take up to 10 medium sized suitcases with ease. Limitations may apply based on luggage volume rather than luggage weight when it comes to loading the aircraft. However, there are some older style aircraft available to charter which have restricted luggage. It's recommended to raise the issue of luggage with the flight broker so that they can source aircraft to suit the passengers' needs.
Travelling with a pet
Pets may travel in accordance with international pet travel laws.
Pets may travel freely within mainland Europe if they qualify for the European Pet Passport, while the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows for pet dogs and cats from designated countries to enter the United Kingdom without quarantine, subject to the adherence of the Defra rules, which are designed to keep the UK free of rabies and other diseases.
- See Angloinfo INFOrmation Page, Pet Travel & Moving with Animals
Designated airports in the UK will accept dogs and cats from certain EU countries. Defra provides information on which UK airports will accept pets on private charters.
Weapons and guns
Firearms are permitted on private jets as long as they travel in the hold of the aircraft.
Hunting rifles must have the bolts removed and carried away from the rifle itself. Rifles and shotguns cannot be stowed anywhere on the aircraft with ammunition.
Prior to the flight, all documentation such as licences and certificates must be provided for inspection by the authorities.
Passengers using wheelchairs should advise the broker in advance, at flight reservation, so that an aircraft with a suitable hold to stow the wheelchair can be sourced.
Electric wheelchairs are classed as "Dangerous Goods" due to the lead cell batteries and can only be handled by a supplier who holds a Dangerous Goods licence. It's essential to discuss this in advance with the flight broker.
A private charter is entirely private. There is no one on-board the aircraft for the duration of a flight other than the client, their party and the crew. After every trip, the aircraft is cleaned and prepared by the crew for the next journey.
- A private aircraft is available at any time, on any day
- There is a wide variety of aircraft available so planes may be chosen to suit the needs of the flying party and their destination
- Itineraries may be tailor-made, with a wide choice of destination airports (these include regional airports) and access to private business and VIP terminals
- Most aircraft charter companies provide a meet and greet service
- "Rapid Response Aircraft" allows for emergency flights. An aircraft can be made available within two hours of confirmed booking