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A turbo-prop aircraft has an average cruising speeds of over 300 mph and an average nonstop range above 1,000 miles. A turbo-prop jet can travel further and faster, and are most popular for short to mid-range flights. Turbo-props can access runways that are often too short for jet aircraft. Amenities in your turbo-prop jet can include pressurized passenger cabins for added comfort, additional safety and performance features, and a semi-private lavatory. Baggage capacity is limited, and the turbo-prop plane can seat anywhere from 4-8 travelers.
The typical helicopter wedding flight is less than an hour. Most of the helicopters can comfortably seat between four and six people, perfect for a bride and groom alone, plus a photographer and a select friend or parent. Many people use the wedding flight as a rapid way to get from the wedding site to a reception area, but some wedding flights may include the option to recite wedding vows in mid-air (don't forget to invite the judge, minister or Rabbi). If you plan on using a helicopter charter to fly from a wedding to the reception area, there is a cost-saving step you can take in the planning process. Most facilities that would allow a charter helicopter to land/takeoff are likely to charge a landing fee when arranged by a pilot or travel advisor. If a family member or one of the wedding party requests the landing privileges on behalf of the pilot, as part of the wedding package, often times the facility manager will waive the fee in the interest of keeping their clients happy.
Comfortable international travel requires an aircraft with the range and speed to make the trip. A "heavy" class private jet is a far more comfortable alternative to commercial air travel. Depending on the type of jet you can make arrangements for up to 20 passengers, and get much closer to your destination than you can with a commercial airport. One of the best features of the heavy private jet is the seating configuration. The Boeing Business Jet, for example, is vastly superior to a commercial 747. The Boeing has recliner-style seating very similar to what you would find in any living room in America, and seating configurations are often arranged in a casual way with plenty of wide open space surrounding the chair. No single-file commercial-style seating means maximum comfort and a much more pleasant traveling environment. Traveling in this manner means no invasive security hassles before boarding, and no delays while other passengers experience such scrutiny, and best of all, your clearance through customs is much faster than it would be on a commercial flight waiting in lines with a large number of fellow passengers.
When chartering private planes, there are three basic choices; propeller planes, helicopters or jets. The differenceS are range and speed. If you are traveling thousands of miles, a jet is the only way to fly. For shorter trips, a propeller plane such as a Cessna is a quick and convenient way to travel, and much preferable to driving. Some people enjoy the propeller plane experience because it conveys the sense of flying better than riding in a jet. The differences between a jet flight and prop-plane travel is much like the difference between driving a car and a motorcycle; the propeller plane journey is more tactile and noisy, the flier is more in touch with the actual sensation of the flight. Those who aren't comfortable with the sensation and noise of flying should choose the jet option wherever possible, as the smooth ride and larger passenger area offers more isolation from the noise and motion experiences of flight.
There is a growing demand for "wedding flight" helicopter flights. Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon have a booming wedding flight popularity. If you are considering such a charter flight, remember that the helicopters used in the best helicopter charter services feature pressurized cabins. Many people have a mistaken impression of helicopter travel, thinking of military-style unpressurized, "open-door" cabins (and wobbly travel). Charter helicopter flights are designed for maximum comfort with noise-cancelling headsets and seating optimized for a good view outside the craft.
Heavy jets are the best of the best when it comes to air charter comfort and luxury. Heavy jet aircraft offers the premium performance and amenities for long flights. With average cruising speeds of 530 mph and range of 4,000 miles, a heavy jet aircraft can go further with more style and comfort than smaller jets and still get in and out of airports and landing strips with ease. Amenities you'll find on board the heavy jet aircraft include a private lavatory, external baggage compartments, stereo and DVD technology, satellite phone, fax, and a full galley. A flight attendant can assist you with gourmet catering for the business executive or entertainment. This jet can seat 10-19 travelers.
Cessna's Citation jets come in a variety of models, but the Citation X is the one of the fastest business jets available. Indeed, it is known as the fourth fastest private jet ever made, putting it in a class with the Concorde. The Citation, powered with two Rolls-Royce turbofan jet engines, flies at subsonic speeds, and with a normal load can fly over three thousand miles. This aircraft can fly between New York and Paris about a 30 minutes faster than comparable jets, but its range is not sufficient to cross the Pacific ocean. The Citation X can carry up to eight passengers, though some product literature claims 12, many are configured to seat eight. (Running this jet with a heavy cargo load can reduce the range by up to a thousand miles). If your destination is about 3,000 miles and time is of the essence, the Citation X is your best bet.
An Astra jet is a mid-sized twin-engine jet that usually seats six in what's called a "stand up cabin," meaning plenty of headroom for the average passenger. These jets are good for executive travel, and often configured with two seat "face-to-face" arrangements with a fold-out table perfect for getting work done on laptops, with spreadsheets, and planners. Some Astras come equipped with a sofa-type seat for more casual discussions that don't require table space. Astras are considered medium jets so a high-speed, long-range trip is definitely an option. The Astra SPX model is advertised as a true seven passenger cabin,' if you need the extra seat, the SPX is definitely the model to ask for. Many Astra jets on the market include in-flight entertainment systems and satellite phones, but be sure to ask your travel expert about the phone option should you need air-to-ground contact.
When traveling internationally on private jets, the customs regulations of the destination countries still apply to the private charter passengers. Iceland, for example, requires an in-country quarantine period up to 45 days for dogs; service animals may require extensive paperwork and pre-arranged authorization. Japan and Korea have customs restrictions on certain types of DVDs and reading materials, and every country has laws governing or forbidding the transport of plants. Some countries are very strict on what is perceived to be software piracy or intellectual property theft. Ask your travel expert during the planning stages of your private jet trip to assist with the customs issues of countries you are visiting. In all cases as a private flight traveler you will get more specialized attention than a passenger on a commercial flight.
Charter planes are more popular than ever, and experienced travelers are demanding more and more high performance charter planes such as the Cessna X. If you anticipate frequent need for high speed, long range jet or other citation jets where range or speed are the primary features, consider a mid-to-upper level "Skycard" membership for your charter plan, as opposed to a bare-bones basic level membership. The free upgrade option offered by premium plans can offers access to jets with better performance or range at very competitive prices plus the upgrade benefits actually saves you money.
When looking at the specifications of private jets, there are two types of rated speed which may confuse those new to chartering aircraft. Astra jets, like all aircraft, are affected by weight factors when it comes to speed. An Astra SPX model has a range listed at 2500 miles with "all seats filled." The fewer passengers you have, the better the range of the aircraft, but the range is only increased by a few hundred miles for a total of four passengers. In order to play a trip with no disruptions, tell your travel advisor how many people will fly with how much cargo, so the most suitable aircrafit is selected for a safe and certain flight without concerns for having to refuel en-route as a result of head-wind or too much weight for the distance planned.
Private flight travelers have found the Cessna propeller plane a very convenient shuttle for short trips under five hundred miles. These planes are perfect for passengers and luggage, but if you plan on booking a cessna aircraft with lots of cargo, it's important to let the booking agent know in advance just how much weight you plan on carrying. All aircraft have strict load capacities fully loaded. Some Cessna models, such as the Cessna 206, are only rated for about 3,600 pounds fully loaded. That weight rating includes the combined weight of all passengers, and pilots never overload the aircraft. If you are carrying too much weight your trip could be delayed and you will have to make separate arrangments for your cargo. When booking a Cessna, check with your booking agent to get the right carrying capacity for your specific needs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|