Image by: vxla
By Charles Lewis
While expensive and seemingly extravagant at times, the charter jet is a necessary weapon in your travel arsenal. Sleek and powerful, the exec jet is also a one-of-a-kind status symbol that gets you there without layovers, cattle calls and snotty brats with cracker hands.
While flying is overwhelmingly safe – the data backs this up – an inherent danger lurks within the charter jet industry as small companies try to stretch their dollar by keeping older planes flying longer. These creeps take risks with your life for profit.
And it is shortsighted moves like these by unscrupulous operators that cause crashes.
But “losses” can be avoided if the customer spends a little time investigating the company that will have your life and the lives of your co-workers in their hands. Here are four things to look out for when chartering a jet:
1 – The Plane’s Age
Unless you are a top-tier client rolling with the big boys, chances are you will not be hiring a brand new jet. In fact, there’s a good bet that it will be several decades old. It is not something you should fear as jets are maintained to the highest degree and generally taken out of service when they get old.
How old is too old? Around 35-40 years. Yep, ask them how old the jet is when you are booking your flight. If they say “it is 45 years old, but it is a good plane,” you say “I’m sure it is, but I am not getting on that thing.”
2 – The Company’s History & Record
You are trusting this charter jet provider with your life, do some research before you commit. Do they have their FAA certificate posted or are they hiding that stuff from you?
Ask about any FAA complaints or warnings the company may have received. Also, how old is the company? Is it on sound financial footing or in corner-cutting mode. Corner-cutting mode gets you killed.
Additionally, call around to the competition and ask what the company’s reputation is like. Of course, some will say bad things because they want you to switch your business (this process is also a good way to interview future potentials), but there may be some truth to what they’re saying.
Bottom line: If the only comments you hear are bad, take that as a sign.
3 – The Pilot
Is father time sitting in the cockpit? Ask his age, you are allowed. The FAA grounds airline pilots at 64, so maybe they are onto something. Also, is he or she a freelancer? Many charter companies routinely employ their own pilots, and these are the companies that you want to go with.
Eliminate the possibility of risk by checking out the person who is going to be flying the plane.
4 – Insurance
Great insurance is what separates the men from the boys, and the chartered-jet game is no different, except that the stakes are much higher. Ask the charter firm fora copy of their insurance certificate. If they are not willing to hand it over, then you are not willing to fly with them, end of story.
Say they do cough it up? How much is a good amount for a company to have? Experts say a charter company should be carrying at least $10 million in liability.