Celebrities, business men and royalty gallivant around on the world on private jets, unblinking at the price tag of a few tens of millions of dollars to add a two-winged toy to their collection. And while for any of us who have flown cramped coach, dealt with delays, and lamented over lost luggage recently that price tag may seem worth it (if we had it), there are now new ways for the average above-average patron to fly on a private jet.
But first, let’s take a peek at some of the most luxurious private jets in the world – and their star-studded owners.
Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talai has shown us that anything is possible in the private jet design world by taking a standard factory design plane, stripping out the interior and remodeling it for a mere $200 million. Not only does this now-$500 million Airbus A380 have stables for both horses and camels, but the Prince apparently cannot go anywhere without his beloved Rolls Royce which is tucked safely into a 2 car garage onboard. Along with a concert hall for entertaining 10 guests, marbled steam room, 5 master suites and 20 smaller private rooms cleverly worked into the design, upon walking around the plane you will also stumble across the prayer room that rotates to ensure it’s always facing Mecca.
Clearly Donald Trump wasn’t a fan of flying coach, nor the movie selection on standard airlines. So The Donald had a Boeing 727-100 custom built, estimated to be worth a whopping $100 million. The presidential hopeful’s jet features a 52-inch flat screen TV where Trump and his guests can access over a thousand movies with just the touch of a button.
If one private jet is good, two must be better.
Russian president Vladimir Putin spent over $155 million recently not on just one luxury private jet but on two. These planes are collectively setting back Russian taxpayers over $165 million while his country remains on the brink of economic disaster, a serious point of contention – if anyone was bold up to scold the former KGP agent.
Travolta is so cool he owns a whole fleet!
When it comes to deciding what plane to take for a morning spin, John Travolta takes Putin’s two jets and raises him nine! Yes, the hip swinging ‘Grease’ star owns and pilots 11 jets, including a full-size Boeing 747. If this doesn’t make him cool enough, after launching the Spirit of Friendship tour to encourage people to travel after September 11, the high-flying Travolta was honored with the title ‘Ambassador-at-Large’ for Qantas Airlines.
With her insanely busy talk show/media celebrity schedule, Oprah Winfrey is the last person you’ll find lowering herself to the pedestrian standards of first class air travel. So for her frequent globetrotting, Oprah splashed out on a Bombardier Global Express XRS, big enough for Winfrey to entertain up to 14 guests as her entourage takes off and lands with unfettered access to 500 private airports in the U.S. alone.
And while some celebrities enjoy the glitz and glam like P. Diddy and Mark Wahlberg, who touched down at McCarran International Airport’s private jet terminal in Las Vegas for the Mayweather vs Pacquiao Fight of The Century, some celebrities chose to follow the picture of frugality and fiscal responsibility, Justin Bieber.
Or, you can fly like “The Biebs.”
Yes, the Justin Bieber doesn’t own his own private jet, but that doesn’t stop him from posing inside a chartered G4 jet and posting the selfies on Instagram. Even though Bieber still paid a pretty penny to charter such a lavish jet, perhaps the kid has the right idea: charter a plane for one trip and be done with it – no additional fuel charges, landing fees, crew and maintenance costs to ever think about...
While booking a private jet for solo journeys still might be well out of reach of the typical middle class traveler, you don’t have to be a prince or Oprah to step foot on a private jet.
Of course you can book a private jet for one trip, which might cost you anywhere from $10,000 to $150,000 depending on your destination, though you may be surprised to learn that fuel is always the biggest expense, not the plane or the pilot’s services.
Fractional ownership is an increasingly popular way for business people and the rich (but not super-rich) to enjoy the private jet experience for special occasions or business clients without buying the whole plane. For a yearly fee that starts at a modest few thousand dollars, you can buy the use of the jet, crew, and pay off all the airport fees for a fixed amount of flying time (usually it starts penciling out if you’re going to fly more than 20 hours a year). Described as a timeshare for private jets, the popularity of the two biggest fractional ownership companies, FlexJet and NetJets, has increased after the financial crunch and Recession.
“Empty legs” is an aviation term for private jets that return to their home airports without passengers, essentially doubling costs without collecting a fee on the return leg. So several charter and private airlines, including Delta Private Jets, have introduced the option for elite and award-winning flyers to come along for the ride. The drawback? They usually only have 24-hours notice to fly, it still might cost a sizable $300-$800 (not too bad compared to coach), and it’s only available for the best airline patrons.
Taking fractional ownership and empty legs one step further, A 27-year-old entrepreneur, Sergey Petrossev, has just created an Uber-style app, funded by Jay-Z, which he claims will let anyone book a flight on a private jet with just one click. The app hasn’t really soared yet, but no one can accuse Jay-Z of not being a man of the people (although he and his wife, Beyoncé, do have their own private jet.)