September 7, 2023

Private Travel Q: How Much Does It Cost to Charter a Small Plane?

how much does it cost to charter a small plane

Picture setting off on a flight to that long-desired destination.

But where are the lines of people boarding the aircraft? What happened to the usual noise and chatter of a hundred people clicking seatbelts into place and loading oversized bags into lockers?

That tranquil start to your journey is possible with a private charter plane. But many people think that the cost of a private jet is out of reach.

In this guide, we’ll help to answer the question: ‘How much does it cost to charter a small plane?’ You may be surprised at the answer. Plus, you’ll learn some practical ways you can reduce that quote.

Small Planes: An Introduction to Aircraft Categories

Before getting quotes for chartering a small plane, you must understand what type of plane you need. There are three broad categories that you can hire. 

Light Jet

A light jet offers speed and luxury and is available at most small airports since they can take off from short runways.

These jets typically carry about eight passengers. You’ll be able to travel around 2,000 miles without stopping for fuel.

Very Light Jets

A very light jet is a more compact version of a light jet and is generally a cheaper option.

These jets can travel around 1700 miles and accommodate up to five guests. They are a more environmentally sound option since they use less fuel than a light jet. 


Turboprops are distinctive because of their propellers. These planes are good for short routes and regional flights. They are slower than a light jet but offer a comfortable cabin experience for up to eight passengers.

Like light jets, they can land and take off from short runways, making them suitable for small airports.

Understanding Flight Costs

All private charter companies will have a specific pricing structure, and you’ll only get an accurate cost by requesting a quote. However, it’s helpful to understand how the price structure works.

First, you’ll have a primary cost, usually an hourly rate. The price you pay will depend on the type and size of the jet.

After that base rate, you’ll have additional mandatory and optional charges. You can also order added extras, like catering. So, the final price will be flexible depending on several factors, which we’ll explore in the next section.

A Breakdown of Prices

Let’s look at some of these costs in detail. Here is how the cost of your charter flight will look. 

The Hourly Rate

The base price of a charter flight starts with a rate for each flight hour. This rate will ensure the cost covers the most fundamental expenses when flying an aircraft, like fuel and crew salaries.

The hourly rate will depend on the type of plane.

Larger jets and those that need more fuel will have a higher hourly rate. You’ll also pay a higher rate for more luxurious jets with better onboard amenities.

The rate could also differ depending on the time of year you hire the aircraft.

Peak seasons will command higher prices, and you may find a cheaper quote during off-peak times. So, if you are flexible about when you travel, keep this in mind.

The time of day will also impact the rate, and smaller airports may have specific operating hours.

Positioning Costs

When you charter a small plane, that aircraft will need to move from the base location to the client’s preferred departure airport.

The charge is called an empty leg journey and will cover the costs of moving the plane, including crew and fuel.

What’s important to remember here is the distance between where the plane is stationed and your preferred departure airport. A longer distance will incur higher charges.

It’s worth getting recommendations from the charter company about a suitable departure airport.

Operational Costs

Let’s take a closer look at some of the operational costs of a chartered plane. The most significant cost here is the fuel. You must keep in mind that fuel prices fluctuate globally.

When fuel costs are higher than usual, you will see that reflected in the price you pay for a flight.

There are also maintenance costs. Each flight requires maintenance and safety checks by the ground crew.

Onboard staff costs will also be another factor. A larger plane with an onboard crew will mean higher costs.

Seasonal Adjustments

You’ll need to consider the varying costs during peak season. In Boise, you’ll find a higher demand during the winter months. It’s a popular skiing destination.

In Phoenix, that peak season happens in the cooler spring climate and during major events. Always check local calendars before setting your schedule to see if your chartered flight coincides with a significant date.

The high demand during these times will mean higher prices, and you’ll need to consider booking well in advance.

International Flights and Associated Costs

If you are chartering a flight across international borders, you will have extra costs to consider.

First, take note of any customs and immigration fees. These vary by country, so you will need to check your destination. Check these fees for your departure airport, too, if flying internationally.

Sometimes your small plane will fly over other countries’ airspace to reach its destination. In that case, you’ll also pay something called overflight fees.

Additional fees you might pay include import tariffs for fuel. Again, these will depend on the destination country.

Finally, international airports will charge a handling fee for the flight’s arrival. These vary by airport and region.

Landing and Handling Fees

You’ll pay a fee for landing and using the airport facilities at your destination airport.

The charge for this depends on the aircraft’s weight. Smaller planes will have a lower fee. Yet they will vary considerably by airport, depending on its popularity, location, and facilities.

Handling fees cover things like aircraft parking and refueling. All landing planes need support from ground crew and terminal staff.

If you book a return journey, remember that airports also charge a take-off fee. Again, these fees vary by airport.

When putting together your estimated costs, check individual airports. Flexibility in your airport choice will help keep your costs down.

Overnight Charges

A private charter flight might require a crew to stay away from home. When that happens, your flight will incur overnight charges.

This fee covers the expenses of flight crew staying in hotels and transportation costs. Your destination will impact this fee. Luxury resorts and popular cities will have higher prices, like premium hotel rates.

Another factor to consider is parking the plane overnight at the airport. The airport will charge a parking fee, which will vary according to aircraft weight.

It’s important to anticipate these fees.

If you can do a trip in one day, it will lower your cost. But keep in mind that flight crews have a limit on the number of hours they can work in one day for safety reasons.

Additional Add-on Services

If you want a luxury jet charter, you may like to add extra services for your flight. These services will give you a more tailored and memorable travel experience.

The enhancements cater to various needs, from practical arrangements to luxury extras.

You will incur a charge for each additional service you want for a flight unless it’s included as standard or as part of a package.

Here is a list of some of the most popular services for a luxury private charter.

  • Luxury interiors, such as leather seating
  • In-flight drinks and food catering, including specific dietary needs
  • Wi-Fi connectivity during the flight
  • Cabin crew services
  • State-of-the-art entertainment systems with movies, music, and games
  • Satellite phones
  • Conference facilities such as screens and tables
  • Onboard beds for overnight flights
  • Personalized requests like champagne
  • Practical requests such as wheelchair assistance
  • Luxury services such as onboard spa and beauty treatments

If your private charter is for a special occasion, it’s worth making the most of it by ordering extra services. It will make your travel more personal and leave you with many precious memories of the journey.

Other Mandatory Costs: Insurance

Chartered flights will have insurance to cover the flight. This protects against damage to the aircraft, crew, and passengers.

Liability coverage also covers compensation for things like injuries and lost belongings. Specific international travel may have a higher insurance premium.

The insurance expenses will typically come as part of the price you pay, but it’s worth keeping this in mind. You should also have separate travel insurance for yourself and any guests traveling with you.

Some Ballpark Figures

As you can see from the cost breakdowns, the price you’ll pay for a private flight will vary considerably depending on your requirements. There are lots of factors involved in producing a quote. 

However, as a general ballpark for small planes, prices typically range from as little as $8000 to $18000 or higher for longer and more luxurious flights.

Remember that the bulk of the costs are the hourly operating rate, so longer flights will always be in that upper price bracket.  

Saving Money on Private Air Travel

Is it possible to reduce the cost of a private charter plane?

It is, and you can do that by making switches on some of your options, such as the destination airport or added services.

There are other ways to reduce the cost, too.

That includes discounts and membership programs. It’s always worth inquiring about loyalty schemes if you plan to charter a small plane more than once.

For example, that might be the case if you intend to use a charter plane for business meetings. Some services offer discounts for frequent flyers.

There are other benefits to seeking out loyalty programs. You might have priority booking access to help secure your preferred travel days. Plus, a company may offer you exclusive amenities like in-flight upgrades.

If you are a regular customer, you may also be able to negotiate more custom trips to help meet specific needs like flight times or destinations.

Small Jet Charter Costs Compared to Commercial Airlines

At first glance, private charter flight costs seem steep. But only when compared with an economy class flight on a commercial jet, which isn’t comparing like for like.

A better comparison is first and business-class travel. Here, the price comparison narrows, especially when traveling as a group.

First-class and business-class commercial air travel can set you back thousands per person. In some cases, a significant portion of that cost is the surcharge taxes and fees.

When comparing costs, it’s also worth considering the other advantages of flying by private charter plane.

Firstly, there is the group cost. If you are traveling in a group of six or more, a charter flight might work out cheaper than paying for six first-class commercial tickets. That will depend on the destination and other factors.

You should also consider the time benefits of flying privately.

For example, avoiding check-in lines and commercial delays could have a positive impact if traveling on business. 

The flexibility of private travel is another factor to consider. If you have more choice of airports, you’ll save time and money on airport transfers. You can fly a more direct route and get to your destination faster.

The luxury and privacy of charter planes is something that’s hard to put a price on, but it may be of value to you.

The comfort of a private cabin can make a flight a wholly different experience than traveling by commercial airline.

Private charter flights are a bespoke way to travel. A customized journey adds convenience and luxury and could potentially save you money and time.

How Much Does It Cost to Charter a Small Plane?

So, how much does it cost to charter a small plane? The answer is that a short and simple journey can be as little as a few thousand dollars.

Always keep in mind that you might get more value for money traveling as a group on a private jet compared to premium commercial flights like first class.

To get a more detailed quote, contact Jackson Jet Center by completing this form. Tell us about your travel plans, and we’ll send you the costs. 

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