What Small-Business Owners Should Know
Running a business often involves a lot of air travel. More than half of small-business owners travel at least once a month for work, and 72% wish they traveled more often. When flying becomes such a regular occurrence, company leaders may consider starting to fly private.
Public airlines may be the most obvious choice for air travel, but they often come with many complications. Alternatively, private flying can be far more flexible and comfortable but can be expensive. Small-business owners should consider what each has to offer in light of their needs and budget to find the optimal flying experience.
In that spirit, here’s what business owners should know about the differences between private and public flying.
At first, the cost differences between flying private and public seem obvious. The average domestic airline ticket costs between $379 and $494, depending on several factors, including when travelers book it. Chartering a private jet can cost $1,300 or more, but this price difference doesn’t tell the whole story.
While chartering may have the lowest upfront costs in private flying, business owners can also buy their own plane. Then they won’t have to purchase tickets for each flight, saving money long term if they fly frequently. Airline tickets often have multiple hidden fees for baggage or selection, which can quickly make public flying remarkably expensive.
Even if business owners don’t own their plane, flying private can still be cheaper in some situations. Boutique private airlines have emerged, letting passengers buy tickets on a private plane for much less than a larger airline. For example, some private flights cost $99 for a trip that would cost $350 on a standard airline.
Another thing to consider when choosing between flying private and public is scheduling. Public airlines operate on strict schedules with specific flight times, limiting business owners’ options when scheduling a trip. By contrast, execs can choose their own departure time when flying private, offering more flexibility.
Flying private also lets business owners avoid complications with stops and layovers. Since they control the flight plan, they can fly directly to their destination every time. They can also land in and depart from private airports that may be closer to where they’re staying than the nearest commercial airport.
A private plane won’t take off without its passengers, so business owners don’t need to worry about missing flights, either. Since they don’t have to navigate busy terminals and go through security, they can also arrive closer to their departure time.
Safety is a leading concern for any flight. Thankfully, private and public flights are extremely safe today. While accidents do occur and make the news, these are rare. There have been no fatal passenger airline crashes in the U.S. since 2009, and the past few years have been among the safest on record.
While crashes are highly unlikely in private and public flying, there are some safety differences between the two. Since public airlines host more passengers, there’s a higher chance that a business owner could catch an illness from another traveler. Airplane cabins are generally clean and safe, but there’s still a chance they could encounter sick passengers.
There’s no one to catch a disease from on a private flight except for the staff, who likely won’t come in if they’re sick. There’s also no chance of running into an irritable passenger who could cause trouble, though this is also unlikely on public flights.
When most people think of flying, convenience isn’t likely something that comes to mind. Traditional air travel is often anything but convenient, carrying strict baggage restrictions, time-consuming boarding procedures and inefficient safety stops. Priority seating tickets and pre-checks can help avoid some of these annoyances, but these can quickly become expensive.
Flying private offers far more convenience. The lack of TSA checks and baggage restrictions means business owners don’t have to worry about choosing the right kind of carry-on or second-guessing what they pack. Since these flights have far fewer, if any, other passengers, boarding won’t take long, either.
This convenience can be a welcome change of pace after a series of busy meetings and tight schedules. If business owners travel often and are exceptionally busy, these advantages are hard to ignore.
Owning a business is busy work, so many leaders may try to tackle some tasks while flying. Passengers can get things done on commercial airlines, but these environments aren’t always conducive to productivity. Takeoff and landing restrictions limit business owners’ use of their devices, cabins may be crowded or loud, and in-flight Wi-Fi isn’t always available.
Flying in business or first class can mitigate some of these issues. Passengers in these sections will have more room and privacy, helping them stay focused. Still, the same in-flight restrictions apply, limiting how much they can accomplish during the flight.
Private flights are more flexible. With fewer passengers and more room to move, there are fewer distractions. In some cases, business owners may be able to use their devices for the entire flight, giving them more time to work.
Comfort is a leading consideration when flying is a regular event. At the same time, many people don’t find public airlines very cozy. One recent survey found that only 52% of U.S. travelers are comfortable flying any distance.
Business owners will likely have to pay for business or first-class seating to avoid being cramped on a passenger airline. Even then, they may encounter limited or subpar food options, noisy nearby passengers and a lack of amenities. Many people may be fine with these flights, but some may want more comfort after busy meetings.
Private flights offer more room, generally higher-quality service and more amenities. Passengers are also free to move about the cabin on these flights, helping them stretch after long hours in a seat. While not everyone needs such a level of comfort, some will find it worth the price.
Flying Private Has Many Advantages
If business owners fly often, they should consider the advantages of private flying. While it’s often more expensive than public airlines, that’s not the case in every situation, especially with regular flights.
Business owners should examine their budgets, options and needs to determine which is right for them. If they have tighter budgets, don’t fly often or don’t mind the typical flying process, public airlines may be sufficient. For others, flying private is the better choice.