There's a New Way to Book Private Jets — and It's 'Just Like Expedia'
A new service is out to make booking a private jet as easy as calling an Uber or reserving an Airbnb.
Jettly has recently launched a new booking platform that functions "just like Expedia," CEO Justin Crabbe says.
That's a huge change for the often-insular world of private jet charters. For all the glitz and glamour private jets offer, actually booking one is sometimes a study in boredom and annoyance — with phone calls and emails between middlemen and brokers that can take hours.
"The typical private jet broker model is like, bringing it back to the '90s, before the Airbnbs and Ubers of the world," Crabbe says, in an interview with Travel + Leisure.
Enter the latest Jettly innovation, a brand-new platform that puts everything you need to book a private jet, anywhere in the world, onto one easily scannable dashboard that'll be familiar to anyone who's booked travel online. It's in beta — though fully functional for users now — and draws on Jettly's five-year track record in private aviation.
"It's made for a millennial mindset," says Crabbe, who's quick to point out that he's in the demographic himself. "We don't want to be tied to brokers, we want things now — or yesterday."
The site works in much the same way as Google Flights, Expedia, or Kayak — with a few twists that come into play because of the nature of private aviation.
Punch in a departure point and destination, plus dates, and Jettly will pull in pricing data from several operators, for different types of jets, with all their various policies and options highlighted. Jettly even offers customer reviews.
And while the goal of the platform is to make booking seamless, Jettly still offers its users the option to tailor any particular journey with the help of a private jet concierge. The Millennial twist? They'll text you rather than call, if that's your thing.
Private aviation has seen a huge surge in demand since the onset of the pandemic, but Crabbe is quick to note that consumers are motivated to splurge for many reasons beyond simply avoiding crowded airports.
More of the trips Jettly arranges are straight-up vacations, though corporate travelers are starting to fly private once again, as business trips are back on. "Usually it's 50-50 between business and leisure, but, in part because of COVID, it's been more personal travel lately," Crabbe notes.
"It's unbelievable how much demand there is," Crabbe says, adding that, lately, Jettly has handled about 15,000 requests per month.
That's despite the expense: The average flight booked through Jettly sells for $35,000, and the average flight time is between three and four hours. Pack a plane with eight people, and the per-person cost of a trip starts to approach what you might pay for first-class service on a given route.
But the real advantage of flying private, Crabbe says, is the flexibility it offers. He describes a hypothetical flight from New York to Miami, for which a traveler would have to spend an hour getting to the airport and then two hours waiting for departure — only to take a flight that lasts about three hours. By contrast, he says, you could arrange a private departure from Teterboro Airport, a short drive or helicopter flight from Midtown Manhattan, and "you're gonna be down on the ground in Florida before you were even up in the air at JFK."
Then again, some customers just like to splurge on trips that wouldn't otherwise be possible. "Somebody flew an aircraft from California to Australia with just their dogs on board," Crabbe recalls. "When I say we've seen it all, we really have."
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