Skip to content

Zero G flights: a cheaper alternative if you can't afford to fly to space

Feb. 20, 2022
5 min read
Zero G flights: a cheaper alternative if you can't afford to fly to space
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.

If you don’t have the $450,000 right now to buy a ticket to space on a Virgin Galactic’s rocket ship (or the $150,000 required deposit), there are some other less expensive and easier-to-access ways to test out the weightlessness that astronauts experience.

One popular option is on Zero-G’s modified 727 Boeing, which one of TPG’s reporters flew on last year. The company recently posted its spring flight schedule. So, if a weightless, out-of-this-world adventure is on your bucket list, get your calendar out.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

(Photo courtesy of Zero-G)

Between March and June 2022, the plane dubbed G-Force One (get it?), will be stopping to take earthlings on zero-gravity adventures in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch and Landing Facility, and in Houston, Austin (at the tail end of the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals), Las Vegas, Thermal, Calif. (during Coachella), Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Denver, Oakland and Long Beach, Calif.

Ticket prices start at $8,200, plus taxes and fees; up from $7,500 when TPG last flew. For people like Kenneth Sanchez from Pasadena, Calif., the price tag is not a barrier. He grew up fascinated with aviation and aerospace and a desire to be an astronaut and has already flown with Zero-G twice.

“It's amazingly fun and emotionally moving, all at once; a form of ’altered state’ which can cause one to reflect on so many aspects of life,” he told TPG via email. “The experience is more a life event that is truly priceless.”

Sanchez and his wife plan to take a Zero-G flight again soon, with friends, and he’s hoping to travel to space at the earliest opportunity.

The Zero-G experience

To create the weightless environment for the Zero-G flights, pilots fly the plane in a series of about 15 parabolic arcs. Each time the plane goes over the top of an arc, there is a short period during which everyone on the plane experiences weightlessness.

For those who may be worrying, Tim Bailey, Zero-G’s supervisor of inflight, told TPG, this space tourism adventure is not like the “Vomit Comet” flights of yore.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

“It was the NASA version of this plane that was called the Vomit Comet,” says Bailey. They flew it very specifically to maximize the taxpayer dollars and did as many parabolas as they could to get as much weightless research time as they could get per flight.”

Flights would be "aggressive," he said, and if someone on board was sick, they’d just keep going. “We don’t do that,” says Bailey. “Zero-G eases people into it by doing some low gravity parabolas at first and taking breaks. That helps cut the motion sickness way down.”

(Photo courtesy of Zero-G)

There are some restrictions on who can take a Zero-G flight, though not as many as suborbital flights impose). Flyers must be at least 8 years old and there is no upper age limit; Zero-G says people in their 90s have flown. So have people with vision, hearing and mobility challenges. For now, there are also a series of pandemic-related precautions in place including COVID testing, reduced capacity and an in-flight mask requirement.

The inside of G-Force One looks like a cargo plane: empty. There are no lavatories, no galleys, no drink carts, no windows, and just 38 airline seats (and not the fancy kind) in the rear of the plane. The rest of the space is open and padded to allow for floating around.

It may not look like a regular plane, but Zero-G’s Bailey said the plane still operates under strict FAA regulations. Flight attendants are trained to deal with the full range of emergency scenarios — and give the familiar safety instruction demos — but also work as a team with coaches on board to lead passengers through the weightlessness experience.

(Photo Courtesy of Zero-G)

Bailey told TPG that passengers include people who have saved up for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and some people whose Zero-G flight is their first time on an airplane. He also said many Zero-G flyers are people whose usual mode of travel is by private jet.

Though it’s all over the news, unruly passengers have not been an issue for Zero-G.

“It’s a really expensive flight so we don’t anticipate someone spending the money to fly with us and then wanting to cause problems,” said Bailey. But we do have people who fly with us who forget that we are not a charter service like their private jet. So, we sometimes must tell people that, yes, they really do have to buckle up and turn off their phones.”

Featured image by (Photo Courtesy of Zero-G)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees