One of the most common questions we receive from our customers is, ‘Which aircraft is best for my flight?’ We all have preconceived ideas about which aircraft best suits which trip, yet there are some counterintuitive factors that change what seems like the most sensible choice.
Generally speaking, turboprops and light jets are the most economical, midsize jets add space and range capabilities, while heavy jets are excellent for long distances and/or those customers who prefer more headroom and a larger cabin.
Price, size, and range are the most critical factors impacting which aircraft is best for you. There are some exceptions, which I have highlighted in this post, along with the four main considerations in helping you find the best type of aircraft for your flight.
1. How many people are traveling?
The average jet, from turboprops to heavy jets, can fit 6-18 people comfortably. Naturally, more people means you’ll need to charter an aircraft with more seating. Also, consider the following comfort variables:
How much space would each person like?
Are any of your passengers very tall, requiring more head space?
Do you prefer a living room style layout?
Would any or all passengers like to lay down to nap during a flight?
Those who prefer more spacious accommodations will be better off chartering a midsize or heavy jet.
2. How much luggage are you bringing?
There’s a major difference between 6 people flying to Napa for the weekend with one or two bags a piece and 6 people flying to Aspen with ski gear in tow. Just about any aircraft will work for the former, but the latter places limitations on certain aircraft.
The more baggage you have, the larger jet you’ll likely need. For example, if you are bringing skis, you can usually cross light jets off of your list because they are not equipped with ski tubes nor have the space for skis. The same goes for a group of golfers. Even some midsize jets may not accommodate such equipment. It all depends on the amount of luggage room available on the aircraft. Ironically, your best bet would be to fly on a Turboprop or a Heavy Jet, both at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum. In these situations, your charter operator will help you identify which aircraft makes the most sense.
One exception to the general rule that larger aircraft can handle more people and luggage is with a King Air. The King Air is a turboprop and a surprisingly utilitarian plane. It can be loaded up with lots of gear to handle many types of trips. Depending on your destination and the distance you plan to fly, this can often be the most cost effective choice.
3. How far are you flying?
After determining group size and luggage requirements, you’ll need to consider the distance you will be traveling and comfort preferences. Do you like to nap or stretch out? Do you mind a fuel stop? While a light jet might be cheaper on a coast-to-coast flight, it will require a fuel stop, which will take more time than with a midsize or heavy jet. Typically, when a flight length exceeds 3 to 4 hours, it is best to upgrade from a turboprop to a light jet at minimum.
Flying to Hawaii? With rare exceptions, heavy jets are the only aircraft with the performance to handle that kind of range without requiring a fuel stop.
Traveling from San Diego to New York? You may assume that a turboprop is the least expensive option when flying charter, but this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to flying long distances. Again, although the turboprop hourly rate is lower than that of a light jet, the turboprop flies much more slowly and will need to make two fuel stops at about 30 minutes each. At this point, a turboprop might cost more and will be much slower than a light jet.
4. What is your final destination?
In addition to the distance traveled, your flight destination is another important consideration because of factors like runway lengths. If you are traveling to a very small airport in a remote area with a short runway, you may need to charter a turboprop because of its more flexible takeoff and landing capabilities.
The midsize Citation Sovereign could also be the perfect option for traveling to a remote airport because of its great performance and runway capability. Again, your operator knows each aircraft and its capabilities, so she will be able to help you determine which aircraft best suits your needs.
Ready to plan your flight?
Contact us today to let us help you find the aircraft that’s right for your travel plans. With the largest fleet of corporate jets in San Diego, we will likely have the right plane for you.