How You Can Land a Discounted Flight on a Private Jet
Millions of people are taking advantage of the growing peer-to-peer economy. From pet sitting to vacation home rentals to transportation services, more consumers are bypassing conventional outlets. They’re turning to new Internet and smartphonebased alternatives instead. Lower costs, greater options, and a refreshing lack of government regulations are all part of the appeal.
For example, ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber are viable, lower-cost alternatives to taxis in many parts of the country. Their success has caused taxi drivers to jealously demand that local governments regulate and restrict these services. Some localities have even moved to ban Uber.
Federal Bureaucrats Take Down
Last month the Federal Aviation Administration moved to ban flight-sharing services. A startup company called Flytenow connected private pilots with passengers looking for an alternative to crowded and unpleasant commercial flights. The concept is a win/win. The private jets have unfilled seats to offer. Better for them if they can sell them. And the passengers can fly in comfort while saving a bundle of money. At least compared to what it would cost to charter their own private jet.
Flight sharing isn’t a new concept. It pre-dates the Internet by several decades. And even though the FAA has never declared it illegal, it now claims the authority to ban Internet services that facilitate flight-sharing communications.
Even if Flytenow and similar Internet-based services are banned, there are still options available for passengers looking to piggyback on private jet itineraries. As previously noted, these arrangements have been legally entered into for decades.
So some of the old school techniques still apply – looking up private jet companies in the Yellow Pages, calling local airports, visiting local airports to get to know pilots, posting flyers or want ads, etc.
In the meantime, the free-market Goldwater Institute is helping Flytenow wage a court challenge to the FAA. According to the Institute, “Private pilots have a First Amendment right to communicate their travel plans with others. When the FAA restricts private pilots from communicating those plans via the Internet, it violates the free speech rights of Flytenow and its members.”
If Flytenow gets grounded for good, it will be a significant blow. And not just to flight sharing. Other sectors of the burgeoning sharing economy are also threatened by excess regulation. Here’s more from the Goldwater Institute’s statement: “In an environment where advancements in communications technology face regulatory overreach at every turn, Flytenow’s fight for survival may produce one of the most significant legal
precedents of the sharing economy.”
Private Jet Flight Deals Still Available
As of this writing, some other flight-sharing web sites are still up and running. Private Fly (866-726-1222; www.privatefly.com) provides information on private jet fractional ownership and charters. It also shares information on discounted empty-leg flights on private jet itineraries that have already been booked.
Finding an empty-leg flight that goes where you want to go when you want to go can be a challenge. But if you’re flexible, you might be able to book such a flight and feel like a VIP for a fraction of the price it would normally cost to fly private.