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I Flew Business Class and on a Private Jet: Here’s Which Is Better.

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And, after several flights, I’ve found there are some cases in which flying business class is a better use of time and money than flying private…

A Singapore Airlines A350 business class seat.

For reasons I’ll explain later, Singapore Airlines’ 18-hour trek from New York-JFK to Singapore on its A350 in business class is better than flying private.

Sorbis/Shutterstock


…but it’s fair to say flying private adds a level of convenience and flexibility that airlines simply can’t provide.

Flying on VistaJet's Bombardier Global 5000 private jet.

Boarding VistaJet’s Bombardier Global 5000 private jet.

Taylor Rains/Insider


First and foremost, private jets operate under different federal regulations, many of which — like on going through security and smoking aboard a flight — are more relaxed than the ones for commercial aviation.

TSA LAX

A TSA agent at LAX.

Brady MacDonald/Insider


Source: Investopedia

These are aircraft service providers for things like fuel and maintenance, and typically have a lounge area with free snacks and drinks available for travelers.

The Million Air FBO coffee bar at Westchester Airport in New York.

The Million Air FBO coffee bar at Westchester Airport in New York was tip-based.

Taylor Rains/Insider


I either walked directly out to the jet from the small terminal or took a one-minute bus ride. And, I could park my car for free outside — though some people drive right up to the aircraft.

Flying on VistaJet's Bombardier Global 5000 private jet.

We drove right up to the jet when flying on VistaJet’s Bombardier Global 5000 from Montreal, Canada, to Teterboro, New Jersey.

Taylor Rains/Insider


While many business-class tickets come with expedited security and passport control, the need to arrive at the airport early to check bags, traverse checkpoints, walk to the gate, and wait for boarding is still a hassle.

Security took place at my boarding gate for my flight home to New York-JFK on Singapore Airlines.

Security took place at my boarding gate for my flight home to New York-JFK on Singapore’s A350 business class.

Taylor Rains/Insider


And, although I’m not a smoker, charter companies can allow passengers to smoke tobacco on board assuming it follows FAA regulations for things like ashtrays and signage.

An aircraft lavatory with no smoking sign.

No-smoking signs are plastered all over airline aircraft, including the cabin and the lavatories.

Taylor Rains/Insider


Source: Stratos Jet Charters

For these reasons alone, I can see how the money — for those who have it —is easily worth the hassle-free experience — especially for celebrities who want to avoid the crowds.

Elon Musk and the Gulfstream G550 jet.

Inside a Gulfstream G550 private jet, like the one Elon Musk owns.

Getty Images/Jetcraft


For example, a Global 7500 operated by charter company VistaJet ranges from around $12,000 to $20,000 per hour. So, an eight-hour leap from New York to London could cost $96,000 to $160,000 one-way.

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500

A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

VistaJet


Source: Elite Traveler

The same route in mid-April for eight people — VistaJet’s sleeping capacity — in Delta One suites is just over $93,000 roundtrip — or about $11,600 a ticket.

A business-class suite on Delta's Boeing 767-300ER.

Delta One suite on the 767-400ER. On a commercial airliner, you pay for each seat; on a private jet, you generally pay one price for the entire plane — however many people it holds.

Delta Air Lines


While splitting the Global 7500 among eight people brings the cost per person down, it is still substantially greater than booking roundtrip suites for about $11,600 a pop.

Onboard VistaJet's Bombardier Global 7500.

The theater in VistaJet’s Global 7500.

Taylor Rains/Insider


This is why I think the duration of the flight and the number of people onboard are the biggest factors in making private flying worth it.

The author with a VistaJet Global 5000 private jet.

In the past year, Insider’s aviation reporter Taylor Rains has flown business class three times and on two large private jets.

Taylor Rains/Insider


On one hand, I can argue the luxuries on board private jets far outmatch those in business class…

Flying Air New Zealand in business class.

Air New Zealand’s business class on its Boeing 787, which was configured in a 1x1x1 layout. The beds had to be manually created by the flight attendants rather than using a button — an inconvenience for travelers, in my opinion.

Taylor Rains/Insider


…especially since the largest aircraft come with double beds, dining rooms, and theaters, creating a more spacious, comfortable atmosphere.

Dining inside the Bombardier Global 7500.

Dining inside the Bombardier Global 7500.

Bombardier


Moreover, in addition to the aforementioned security and smoking rules, private travelers have more food flexibility because they aren’t tied to an airline’s predetermined menu…

Flying on VistaJet's Bombardier Global 7500.

I was served food from the award-winning restaurant Nobu on my Global 7500 demo flight.

Taylor Rains/Insider


…and they can access routes that commercial carriers don’t offer, like Elon Musk’s 12-hour trek from Mykonos, Greece, to Austin, Texas, in July 2022 — a route that would take at least one stop and 30 hours on an airline.

Engines of the Gulfstream G550.

A Gulfstream G550, like the one owned by Elon Musk.


aviation-images.com / Contributor/Universal Images Group Editorial


These personal, individualized amenities go beyond what can be offered in business class.

A yoga mat and work out equipment for VistaJet travelers.

VistaJet provides a yoga mat and other work out equipment onboard for its customers.

Taylor Rains/Insider


But, on the other hand, some wealthy travelers could see the cost-savings of flying in business class on a transoceanic flight worth ditching a private jet…

La Compagnie's seat in lie-flat mode.

My lie-flat bed on La Compagnie, which was cocooned between the privacy divider and fuselage wall.

Taylor Rains/Insider


…especially since long-haul business typically has lie-flat seats. For example, Singapore Airlines has a large business class lounger on its Airbus A350 that comes with a roomy bed and a flat-screen TV.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


By comparison, there are a few places to sleep on VistaJet’s Global 7500, but not all are fully private. These include the double bed in the bedroom…

A bed onboard VistaJet's Global 7500.

Onboard VistaJet’s Global 7500.

Taylor Rains/Insider


…as well as the double beds made from the theater couch and dining room seats. The two sets of four swivel chairs also create a pair of single beds.

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500 — Dubai Airshow 2021

The bedroom and theater room can be closed off with sliding doors, but the dining room bed and the single beds are in the same cabin.

Thomas Pallini/Insider


For eight people to sleep comfortably, six would need to be couples, friends, or family members — it wouldn’t be a great option for colleagues, which VistaJet US President Leona Qi acknowledged during a demo flight in November.

Flying on a Gulfstream G280.

The twin beds are similar to the ones seen on the Gulfstream G280 (pictured).

Taylor Rains/Insider


Moreover, I don’t really mind not having as much choice in terms of meals. But, I know a lot of customers have specific needs and wants, which is more easily catered to on a private jet.

Flying on VistaJet's Bombardier Global 5000 private jet.

Flight attendants served us food on VistaJet’s Bombardier Global 5000 private jet.

Taylor Rains/Insider


All things considered, if I had to choose between Singapore and a crowded Global 7500, I’d choose the former. I wouldn’t have to share a bed or have to fight over the private jet’s main television.

The handheld remote on the tray table with Jumanji II on the screen, indicating that's what is playing on the TV.

I loved the handheld remote that controlled the 18-inch TV at my seat.

Taylor Rains/Insider


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