How travelers are using private jets to avoid coronavirus exposure
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.
People are taking many different approaches to traveling during the coronavirus outbreak. Some are postponing or canceling trips, some are taking extra steps to disinfect their airplane seats and hotel rooms and some aren’t doing anything different. And then there are those who are turning to private jets to avoid exposure.
Private jet operators are seeing a dramatic rise in demand as fears surrounding the coronavirus grow. While initial inquiries were focused on evacuations from affected areas, the increase in demand can be seen around the world as cautious travelers seek ways to avoid commercial airport terminals and pressurized aircraft cabins and cover for cancelled flights.
“Unsurprisingly, we have witnessed a substantial increase in the demand for private aviation — both from new members of XO and current members — during this sensitive time triggered by the coronavirus,” Ron Silverman, Chief Commercial Officer of California-based on-demand private jet charter company XO told us. “We expect demand to continue to grow as the situation remains unsettled, and we are committed to meeting these requests.”
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
This increase in demand can be seen across the world. A spokesperson of XO’s Malta-based sister company VistaJet shared with TPG, “While we cannot assume the exact reason for flying, VistaJet has made a strong start to 2020 despite the unique set of challenges posed by COVID-19. Early figures from January and February 2020 highlight that VistaJet’s total number of flights increased by a further 16% YOY and the company continues to see strong demand across all regions.”
And it’s not just the rich and famous that are looking to protect themselves by flying private. Companies in the affordable semi-private jet space — think of it as the Uber Pool of private aviation — are seeing an increase in demand from everyday travelers as well.
Related: These private jet players want to make luxury flying more affordable
Angela Vargo, Vice President of Marketing of regional airline company JSX, shared with TPG, “We took a quick look at sales and they are definitely on the rise in the past week. While we can’t pinpoint with certainty that it is in relation to coronavirus concerns, JSX is likely a more viable travel option right now since people may fear crowded airports and sitting on planes with hundreds of people for a long period of time.”
Companies like JSX offer the convenience of flying out of private terminals at prices similar to commercial travel, but you may need to share your flight with a small group of other passengers in return.
With a rise of chartered jets hitting the skies, everyday travelers can also expect more empty-leg specials. These are heavily discounted flights when a jet operator needs to reposition aircraft for a paying customer. They are often offered on short notice and on limited routes, but can save you serious cash. If it’s just congested airport terminals you’re concerned about, it could make sense to shell out on a private commercial airport terminal experience like PS at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), PremiAir at Manchester Airport (MAN) or the Fattal Lounge at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV).
If private-jet travel or a private airport terminal is not an option, keep in mind that there are other ways that you could protect yourself from the virus while traveling. For instance, if you use Clear to get through security faster, consider switching to using an iris scan over a fingerprint scan. If you don’t already, you can reduce human contact by using a mobile boarding pass, as opposed to a paper one. Then, once onboard, take time to disinfect your seat before settling in. Most airlines also have flight waivers in place that allow for free changes or cancellations. Read our complete coverage of the outbreak here.
Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:
- Airlines scale back inflight offerings due to coronavirus
- Extreme measures cruise lines are taking during coronavirus
- US State Department says Americans should not cruise
- JetBlue follows United, announces flight cuts because of coronavirus
- How coronavirus is impacting airline award availability
Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees