Having a plane all to yourself is no longer just for the super wealthy.

When to Fly Private
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New start-ups are making private-jet travel easier and more affordable—sometimes even more so than commercial flights. Here are a few scenarios in which a private jet might be the smartest way to go.

You're Feeling Spontaneous.

Ready to take a weekend trip anywhere? JetSuite sells super cheap seats on empty-leg flights. It once offered tickets for July 4th flights for $4, and the whole jet for $546.43 (from Las Vegas to Jackson, Wyoming). The catch? You only get 24 hours’ notice, and have to choose from among the destinations offered.

You're Flying With a Group.

A weekend trip to Nantucket from New York City for eight people could run you a total of $1,744 each way. Victor, a private-jet company based in London, Munich, Santa Barbara, and New York that charters empty legs and has no membership fee, can take everyone there for $1,806 in a Pilatus PC-12. It’s only slightly more expensive, but you’ll have zero bag fees and no security line.

You're a Frequent Business Traveler.

If you travel between New York City and San Francisco regularly—say, twice a month—and your company is shouldering the cost of business-class seats, a membership with JetSmarter will quickly pay for itself. For $15,000 a year, members receive unlimited free seats on transcontinental JetShuttle flights.