Traveling Privately During COVID-19

By Ricky Gomulka

Updated February 26, 2021

Fact Checked By Kevin Bales

In the Face of COVID-19, More First-Time Travelers Try Private Planes

  COVID-19 has changed every facet of our lives since it hit the country in the early Spring of 2020, but one place where you might not expect the effects of COVID to linger is in the private jet charter industry. According to many reports, including the New York Times, many first-time private plane travelers are choosing these charter flights as a way to elude the dangers and inconveniences of traditional air travel. Here are some of the many reasons why private charter planes are attracting an all-new clientele.

Private jet travel offers enhanced safety through minimized contact with crowds and personalized service. It allows for greater control over the travel environment, reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

Reasons New Fliers Are Turning to Private Planes

Dedication to Hygiene

Private plane travel has a higher level of care in both the cleaning and maintenance of their airplanes, and never was this more important than during a pandemic. Not only is the industry sanitizing every surface and making everything perfect for their new guests (something that the concierge-level quality of private charter travel already offered) but by traveling by private plane you’re able to avoid all of the potential spreader events that take place in an airport. Even the most well-meaning flight attendants on a commercial flight can only do so much to make sure that the flight will be clean and ready for the next load of passengers coming aboard.  On a private charter jet you are getting service that comes with the same level of quality you’d expect from a concierge service: masks, hand sanitizer, disinfected surfaces, and a well equipped crew dedicated to providing a safe experience. This dedication to hygiene, something that a traditional airport and airline cannot promise, is drawing in new travelers all the time. This is evidenced in the numbers: According to the above-mentioned New York Times article, commercial flights plunged to only 12 percent of their 2019 capacity. While, on the other hand, some charter services have seen up to an 89 percent increase in new customers since mid-March of 2020. This is a testament to the changing times, and the fact that new travelers are flocking away from the traditional flights and toward the private charter jets. Selective focus of businessman putting on medical mask near champagne and salad on table in airplane

Less Expensive Than Ever Before

Just as commercial airlines were impacted heavily by shortages of passengers and a need to keep their planes in the air, the private jet industry saw dramatic decreases in prices in 2020, at one point offering prices 80% lower than the typical draw, according to While many companies chose to keep their planes on the ground during the worst of the pandemic, entrepreneurial private jet charters saw a chance to beat out the competition by offering a fantastic gateway experience into private jet travel at deep discounts. Another trend that popped up during this time was a pay-as-you-go membership plan where you pay a joining fee and then a guaranteed fixed rate on flights. Others lowered their typical buy-in for jet cards from a starting level of 25 hours down to ten or even five hours, which meant that the initial payout from new fliers could drop from as much as $150,000 to $10,000.

While the cost can be higher than commercial flights, the value of increased safety, flexibility, and time efficiency makes private jet travel a justifiable option for those prioritizing health and convenience during COVID-19.

Business Travel Needs to Continue

More businesses turned to private jet travel as well, as the need for corporate travel continued despite the closedowns of commercial airways. Companies found that it was in their best interests to keep their executives moving, even if it meant opting for a private jet charter as opposed to first class on a traditional airline.  This was especially true of organizations who had to send a contingent of executives to visit a client or deal with a merger: sending eight executives on a private jet, as opposed to eight first class tickets on a commercial airline, was not a significant step up in price, and was more than offset by the added safety and health precautions taken by the jet charter service. 

Travel to Second Homes, Holidays

While the country was under lockdown and instructed not to associate with those outside of their family bubble, particularly during the holidays, many found time to spend a relaxing Thanksgiving or Christmas at a second home, via private jet charter. If they couldn’t be with family and friends, but had the opportunity to use a condo or a second home in Florida, California or Mexico during the winter months, many found the decision an easy one. It would be an unconventional holiday regardless, so why not make the best of it with a visit to a vacation property.  This was especially attractive to the older retirees who have property in winter in the warmer climates but, because of their age, are more susceptible to the contagion of the pandemic. There is also the opposite: those who winter in Vail and Aspen, who want to hit the slopes, not lounge on the beach. For all of these people and more, private jet charter flight was the way to go to get to a holiday away from family.

Protecting Loved Ones

Finally, the last main reason that people were switching to private jet travel for the first time this year was because they wanted to protect their loved ones. While this may have taken many forms (and, as we outlined above, private planes are far safer than commercial) the general gist of this was that wealthy family members paid for their immunocompromised loved ones to travel to meet them, either for the holidays or for some other reason, and wanted to make sure that their elderly or otherwise sick relatives got the special care that they needed to make a safe and comfortable trip to meet up with their family. 

Yes, private flying is considered safer during the pandemic due to fewer touchpoints, lower passenger numbers, and the ability to avoid busy commercial airports, thus significantly reducing the likelihood of coming into contact with the virus.


Many new travelers turned to private jet travel this year because of COVID-19-related concerns, be they personal safety, cost effectiveness, business necessity, care of loved ones, or making special trips to highlight their holiday seasons. It has been seen that private jet charter in 2020 has been an attractive alternative to other forms of travel, and these new travelers will likely return again and again as they recognize the benefits of private charter travel.   Will you turn to private charter travel this year?


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