by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Daily Telegraph
For voracious, moneyed travellers, a new all-you-can-fly package is promising unlimited trips by private jet for £2,500 a month.
Launching in the UK in October, Surf Air began in California, where it has been facilitating tech entrepreneurs and media titans who have needed to flit between San Francisco and Los Angeles since 2013. European customers can expect to encounter a service very similar to that which has been tried and tested stateside over the last three years. Describing its unlimited-consumption model as "the Netflix of air travel", currently the US operation has 3,000 members and performs approximately 90 flights a day between 13 different destinations.
Having paid a £1,000 initiation charge and committed to a standard monthly membership fee of £2,500, British clients will be permitted to fly on Surf Air’s European network as much as they wish. Upon launch that network will permit flights between London, Zurich, Geneva, Paris, Cannes, Dublin and Ibiza, with forthcoming destinations to include Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Berlin, Milan and Barcelona. London flights will depart from and arrive at Luton Airport; though the facility is more generally recognised as a base for budget airlines, it also serves the business-class-only airline La Compagnie and is already established as one of the most popular terminals for private jet flights in Europe.
Bookings can be made online but most customers are expected to complete the process by app, a process Surf Air’s founders say takes 30 seconds or less. Members paying the £2,500 monthly fee will be permitted to book a maximum of two one-way flights at any one time, and will then be able to book a third flight after their first flight is completed, and so on as many times as they wish throughout each month.
Surf Air flights can be booked within 30 seconds
Though the chartering cost of a single private-jet flight between London and Geneva can ordinarily comfortably reach five figures, Surf Air’s relative affordability is partially due to the fact that the private jets at its disposal won’t be reserved for a member’s private use. Instead he or she can expect to fly with other Surf Air members, and friends and family members may join them on board for an additional fee of £750 and up one way. European flights will be aboard Cessna CJ4 or Learjet 75 business jets; customers who wish to cancel their membership will be required to give three full months’ notice.
Though private-jet travel remains the preserve of a minute proportion of travellers, a small number of opportunities are making it somewhat more accessible. Savvy, flexible travellers willing to book last-minute places on private-jet “empty leg” journeys (when the aircraft is being flown back to its hub after being chartered, or to pick up a booking from a foreign destination) might find aggressive discounting on these routes make a fully occupied jet cheaper per person than the same journey on a budget airline ; private-jet charter specialist Victor is one of the companies offering a dedicated empty-leg search engine on their website.
Allowing individuals to share usage of aircraft and thus suppress chartering costs, Private Jet Club UK facilitates the arrangement of bookings for customers who pay an annual membership fee of £248 and agree to a commission being paid for each flight successfully booked. Also subject to a monthly management fee, co-owners of Jetfly aircraft buy a time-based share in a new PC12 jet relative to their flying needs and pay for each hour they fly. The aircraft is at their exclusive disposal and flies to an extensive range of destinations, with a one-way trip Jetfly between Courchevel and London costing approximately €7,000 .
Other travellers keen to holiday by private jet will find that an increasing number of luxury tour operators are now providing itineraries and tours with transit aboard these aircraft. Among the most notable are the round-the-world-by-private-jet trips launched by TCS World Travel . The Seattle-based company has also launched a number of tours in partnership with Four Seasons, which will see guests stay at the hotel group’s properties en route.
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This article was written by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.