How to Fly Across Europe on a Private Plane for Less Than $25
Sharing a pilot's private plane in the same way you might share a homeowner's apartment through Airbnb could help cut the costs of flying.
That’s the goal of Wingly, a flight-sharing platform that allows passengers to score cheap flights across Europe by pairing them with pilots who are offering seats on their aircrafts.
Started two years ago in France, the platform currently operates in 3,000 different destinations across Europe, allowing travelers and flight enthusiasts to enjoy rides on private planes for as little as 20 euros (roughly $23).
Pilots can sign up and get verification by posting their licenses and medical certificates, and once they are approved, customers will be able to see the availability of flights and how many seats are open (which typically ranges from four to six).
Passengers are required to provide their passport information to ensure that they are eligible to fly to their desired destinations, and pilots and passengers have the option to review each other and the experience once the flight is over.
Pilots must provide logbook information on the total number of hours they've flown, with a minimum of 100 hours required. They must also show how many hours they've flown in the past 12 months to prove they have recent experience.
The company also worked with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to outline regulations promoting the safety of non-commercial general aviation flights with lighter aircraft models like the Robinson-22 and Robinson-44 helicopters customers might board.
The charter requires that Wingly takes steps like providing pilots with checklists and best safety practice tutorials, informing passengers about the safety levels, and sharing pilots' profiles with the EASA.
Should the passenger or pilot decide they no longer want to fly due to poor weather conditions, flights can be canceled with a full refund, so hefty cancelation fees aren’t a concern.
“Our pilots and passengers have really active communication through our platform and one of the most important factors is ensuring that the pilot and passengers are aware of everything involved in the flight,” Emeric de Waziers, one of the company’s founders, said. “The fact that flights can also be canceled means pilots don’t have to fly in conditions like poor weather and that’s one of the best ways to promote safety in general aviation by removing that type of pressure.”
While companies like JetSmarter offer members the ability to book private jets or grab a free seat on a scheduled flight, Wingly's model works a bit differenly, with pilots and passengers splitting the full cost of the trip's direct expenses, including factors like fuel, plane rentals (when necessary), and landing fees.
The pilots don't make a profit, but they do enjoy the craft.
“These are pilots that fly for fun…they're mostly hobby pilots who want to share their passion for flying and while we do have pilots that fly commercial aircrafts, they really do this to help you share in the enjoyment of flying,” Ahaad Adiji, Wingly’s U.K. manager, told Travel + Leisure.
There is an additional booking fee that will average about 15 percent of your flight, though that also includes insurance.
The company offers sightseeing flights just to let you see a place from a new point of view, excursion flights for a quick weekend or even lunchtime getaway, or one-way flights to get from one point to the next.
And if a flight needs to be canceled, you can either request a refund or reschedule.
“It opens up flying to people who have never flown before, while also giving you the chance to see destinations that previously may not have been easily accessible,” Adiji told T+L.
Examples include locations like the Channel Islands, located just off the coast of Normandy.
The best part might just be that you're allowed to bring pets with you on flights as long as the pilot you're flying with allows it.