COVID-19 Has Made Private Jets More Accessible — and These Hotels Are Using Them to Ease Travel Worries in Style
Once reserved for the uber-wealthy or exclusively seen as #travelgoals, flying private may become a bit more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The process of flying private inherently checks all the boxes for a traveler who may be nervous to fly right now. Hopping on a private jet eliminates the need to traverse a busy airport, reduces the number of passengers on board, and not to mention, with so many flights getting canceled or rerouted due to travel restrictions, the convenience may be worth the price.
According to aviation consultancy WingX, the number of commercial flights between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 was reduced by 50% while private flights only saw a 10% drop. And now, especially as holiday travel approaches, hotels and resorts have leaned into the data and teamed up with private aviation companies, offering travel packages that ensure customers' safety — and a luxe experience — without breaking the bank.
"I think we are definitely seeing a major shift in how people think about air travel," Alex Wilcox, CEO of hop-on jet service JSX, told Travel + Leisure. "People I talk to are more open to looking at options they might not have previously considered."
JSX has partnered with several hotels including MGM Resorts, Meadowood, and Wynn Las Vegas offering inclusive packages that incorporate airfare, ground transportation, and lodging. A semi-private JSX flight can cost lower than $200 depending on the destination. Hotel rates are all under $400 dollars per person, based on double occupancy with a two-night stay minimum.
"As a hop-on jet service — which operates similarly to private jets, anyone can buy seats with us, no membership required," Wilcox explained. "We are uniquely positioned to provide that alternative to commercial travel they are looking for without the exorbitant cost of chartering a jet.”
Andreas Pade, managing director of Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort in the British Virgin Islands' Virgin Gorda — which is working with Ocean Tropic Airways and its concierge service Volo Travel — says flying private is here to stay.
“Not only are travelers willing to indulge in a more premium form of travel, but private air travel is also becoming more accessible,” she said.
Upon reopening in December, guests at Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort can arrive from a variety of locations via private or semi-private aircraft.
A Tropic Ocean Airways jet chartered from New York, Fort Lauderdale, Houston or Chicago, ranges from $20,000 to $26,000 depending on location. The jet will take guests to San Juan, Puerto Rico where they'll board a seaplane to Virgin Gorda for $3,450.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, also a Rosewood Resort, has teamed up with travel experience company Jet & More to create "LVP Wings," a specific offer for guests of the resort and clients of Jet & More with unsurpassed rates and VIP perks. Existing clients of Jet & More can pair up with other members to book a group charter plane at a reduced price while still feeling quite safe and also getting to experience all of what flying private has to offer.
Flights will start the week of Thanksgiving, and members will continue to have access into 2021 for popular weekends such as President’s Day weekend and Martin Luther King Day weekend. Flights are available from Dallas Love Field Airport, Van Nuys Airport, and Teterboro Airport and on a first come first served basis as there is a booking deadline set for each departure date. A six-day, five-night stay begins at $7,000 per traveler.
Private aviation solutions provider XO launched luxury travel packages for members at five leading resorts and properties including Palmasola in Punta Mita, Mexico, Ventana Big Sur in the California central coast, Silversands Grenada in the Caribbean, and Dunton Hot Springs and Dunton River Camp in the Colorado Rockies.
Flights with XO start at $9,000 to domestic hotels like Ventana Big Sur while a private flight to various destinations in Mexico starts at $20,000.
“We looked for destination partners that are well-aligned with our brand values and our customers’ travel interests and passions," Allison Silverstein, who heads partnerships at XO, told Travel + Leisure. "Our newest partners truly deliver one-of-a-kind experiences, with world-class hospitality, in beautiful settings. Moreover, our partners are extending XO clients unique offers and amenities that are not available elsewhere, making our collaborations truly special.”
For those ready to take a trip, but perhaps prefer to sleep in their own bed, Embark Travel can meet all the needs of a perfect daycation thanks to their partnership with Tradewinds Aviation. Embark Travel's trips offer a private jet for as low as $4,850 for up to 8 people.
“We created daycations for people yearning to explore an area but hesitant to spend the night away from home," Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of Embark Travel, told T+L. "We truly believe helping people take a 'first step' in getting out of their routine and make them comfortable with starting to travel again.”
Travelers with Embark can spend a day hiking in the Berkshires, have a picnic curated by Daniel Boulud’s new Blantyre outpost, enjoy a spa treatment at Miraval, and tool around in a BMW x7 to explore the local haunts. Other offerings include a trip to New Hope, PA, and Virginia for a culinary experience at the newest three-star Michelin restaurant in America, The Inn at Little Washington. The company is also looking to add trips in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami.
Embark Travel also is offering a "Flight to Nowhere" for $2,000.
For an iconic and ultra-luxe experience, The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach has partnered with evoJets for its “The Let’s Jet Away" package that provides private round trip flights to and from Miami on a 12-guest jet and accommodations at the oceanfront resort — which just re-opened following a $90 million dollar renovation. The private flight for 12 costs $35,000.
Suites start at $599 per night and booking a private floor for 25 guests costs $12,000.
"The world is changing, and with that comes a new level of luxury in travel, away from crowded airports and crammed cabins and toward personalized service, safety and privacy of private aviation," the Ritz Carlton said of their announcement of the partnership.
Guests looking for the utmost privacy can leave any lingering nerves behind and book the private club lounge experience, for $72,000, which includes a private concierge, pool and beach area, private fitness classes, and daily food and beverage options.