Here’s how Blade is making it easier for travelers overseas return home

Mar 17, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The U.S. has implemented a number of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak and airlines have responded with major flight suspensions. American Airlines suspended all but three long-haul routes through at least May, Delta slashed its transatlantic network to just five routes and United cut systemwide capacity by half. Some major airports, such as Kuwait International Airport (KWI), have completely shut down, suspending all commercial flights.

Americans have been left scrambling to book flights home, and having been returning to utter chaos. Since March 14, anyone flying into the United States has been restricted to a small handful of international gateway airports for “enhanced entry screening,” and have been facing multi-hour backups to clear customs and immigration.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

One way some travelers have gotten around the travel restrictions and packed airports is by turning to private jets. Private-jet operators have seen a dramatic rise in demand over the past few weeks as travelers need to evacuate from affected areas and seek ways to avoid crowded commercial airport terminals. While flying private can cost you a pretty penny, some charter companies are trying to make it at least a little more affordable during these difficult times.

Related: How travelers are using private jets to avoid coronavirus exposure

On-demand helicopter, seaplane, and private-jet booking service Blade introduced on Monday its International Jet Charter Return Home Program. With this program, Blade will offer charter availability for its entire accessible fleet of long-range jets at operating cost to anyone in need of transportation from an international location back to the U.S. These flights can be shared, either through coordination by Blade or by flyers themselves.

While you must contact Blade for quotes, Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Patrick Albano told us that the company can offer a super-midsized jet charter (seating up to nine passengers) from St. Maarten to New York for $21,200 one-way, compared to the usual $34,000. The company says it has also received a lot of interest in seaplane charters from the Caribbean, where travelers are looking to take a short hop back to the U.S., landing in Miami. Those aircraft have been made available for $4,400 while they typically go for upwards of $5,800. “We’re able to deliver on these requests thanks to our operator partners and our team of international experts who know how to match up the right aircraft for the mission,” Albano said.

Commercial airlines introduced fare caps in select markets, but those are only valid for coach travel and only through March 24. The fare caps also don’t help with flights selling out.

Related: How points and miles got my 79-year-old mom home in first class before a coronavirus lockdown

Aside from having a more comfortable in-flight experience, flying private will allow you to bypass packed customs halls, which could be a health hazard themselves. The wait at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) is said to have reached six hours just to get through baggage claim over the weekend. Plus, you’ll be able to fly directly to your home cities, as opposed to one of the designated gateway airports.

Related: A taste of the private-jet life: What it’s like to fly BLADEone from NYC to Miami

Read our complete guide to traveling during the outbreak here.

When you use Blade promo code BRIANF&F you and TPG will each earn $50 in Blade credits. 

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.