Americans Began Flying Private During Pandemic; Many Plan to Continue

One-third of Americans who earn more than $50,000 annually (perhaps a lower threshold than you might expect) have flown on a private jet at least once, according to a recent study by Further, one-third of those (so, about one in nine of all people who earn at least $50,000 each year) did so for the first time during the pandemic.

Even better: Three in four Americans who flew private for the first time during the pandemic said it’s “very likely” they’ll fly privately again in the future. Most people who do fly private said they do so “as a treat for a special occasion,” like a honeymoon or birthday. Many of these travelers, in fact, have already flown private multiple times since their first instance. Forty percent have taken between three and five private flights; 15 percent have flown private six to 10 times since 2020; and 10 percent have had more than 10 private flights between 2020 and now.

“While most people may think that flying private is just for the ultra-rich, our survey showed that’s not always necessarily the case,” said in its report. When broken down by income brackets, 41 percent of Americans who earn between $100,000 and $149,999 annually have traveled by private plane at least once, followed by 37 percent of those who make $150,000 or more each year, and 27 percent who earn between $50,000 and $99,999 annually.

How much are middle- and upper-class Americans willing to shell out for the privilege and prestige of private flight? As of July 2022, 60 percent of individuals who started taking private flights in 2020 or later have spent upwards of $50,000 in total on private flights. A similar percentage of individuals who started flying private prior to the pandemic (57 percent) have spent a similar amount of money.

Among the top reasons why Americans flew private, many cited the safety by avoiding commercial travel (as it relates to COVID-19) and to avoid the federal mask mandate. Non-pandemic-related reasons typically revolved around occasion and opportunity. Thirty-eight percent of all respondents who have flown privately said it was to celebrate a special occasion; and equal number were invited to be a guest on someone else’s private flight.

Efficiency and practicality were also factors. Twenty-seven percent chose to fly privately because it’s faster than flying commercial, while 26 percent said it was the only option for getting to their destination. Similarly, 25 percent of private plane passengers wanted to avoid the hassles of flying commercial, like delayed flights and lost luggage. Twenty-two percent wanted the comfortable cabin experience that a private plane provides, and 21 percent said the private flight was for work-related travel and paid for by their employer.

Among the 68 percent of Americans who haven’t had the opportunity or privilege to fly private, one-fifth say they’re not willing to pay anything to do so. Forty-four percent of these respondents would pay up to $4,999 to fly privately; however, considering most private plane charters start at around $4,500 per flight hour, they’d likely be in for a short trip. used online survey platform Pollfish to reach 1,250 American adults who earn an annual income of $50,000 or more. This survey was conducted on July 15, 2022.


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