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How travelers are using private jets to avoid coronavirus exposure

March 09, 2020
5 min read
How travelers are using private jets to avoid coronavirus exposure
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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.

Related: Should I travel? Advice for the coronavirus outbreak

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

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."

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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."

Related: What it’s like to fly in the US right now

A seat aboard a private Bombardier CRJ-200 (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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.

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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.

Related: The best cards for booking private jet travel

A JSX Embraer 145. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

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:

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023