Due Diligence for Charter Buyers
Apr 09, 2014 | Categories: Customer Care
Private Jet charter is a luxury that very few will ever have the opportunity to experience. For those lucky enough to be able to travel this way, it’s not always easy to find a safe, reliable option that you can trust. As much as we hate to admit it there are plenty of companies and individuals trolling the internet and the phone lines that will sell you charter whose only goal is to fleece you of some of your hard earned wealth. It is even possible to get mixed up with people that have jets, who are conducting illegal charter operations. The problem for the charter client is trying to sort through the sea of charter brokers and operators (and sometimes downright con-men) to find the one who can meet your needs without breaking the bank.
Understanding the Market
When you do a Google search to look for private jet charter, the results you’ll get will be a mix of actual aircraft operators and charter “brokers.” Most brokers don’t actually own or operate aircraft, and the good ones will be upfront with you about this. They simply make the connection between the charter buyer and the charter jet operator. Operators on the other hand, actually maintain possession and control of airplanes, and operate them for hire. Moser Aviation is an operator, certified by the FAA to conduct charter in our aircraft. Not all operators are created the same and neither are all brokers. In either category there are fantastic companies to work with, and there are also some companies you definitely want to stay away from. So, how does one tell the difference?
Conducting your due diligence
There are some basic questions you need to ask to make sure you’re not being swindled or disappointed when you’re shopping for charter. We recommend any shopping maintain a focus on safety, reliability and value. Normal red-flags for business should be red flags in charter as well.
The first question should focus on safety. Legitimate charter operators will be licensed by the FAA, and will be rated by third party ratings agencies to ensure they are operating a safe charter company. Ask your broker or operator to see their safety rating before you agree to charter with them. There are a handful of options in the 3rd party safety ratings market that can easily distill the data for you and help ensure you’re getting a safe and legal charter. In no particular order, the three that Moser Aviation works with are Wyvern, ARG/US and IS-BAO. We recommend a charter client ask for the safety report from one of these agencies prior to booking a charter. The reports are easy to read, and will give you the peace of mind that you’re flying with a legitimate charter company. Although these companies provide different levels of rating, it’s important to understand that a higher rating doesn’t necessarily reflect a safer operation. All of these companies reserve their highest ratings for those operators who have paid the rating company to conduct their 3rd party safety audit, so that’s important to keep in mind.
Once you are certain that the operator is legal and safe, you should focus on reliability and value. For a new charter client, we recommend that you request multiple quotes, so you can compare apples to apples. If you work with a broker, they should do this for you, but remember, they’ll also charge for it, so typically you’ll pay at least 5-10% more for a charter by working through broker, rather than directly with the operator. Sometimes that extra money is well spent, and a good broker can really enhance the value you receive. Second, make sure you understand the price and the contract. Sometimes, you may get a bill after the charter completes for fuel surcharges, handling fees, taxes etc. When you ask for a quote, make sure you ask for all in pricing. The broker or operator should be able to tell you if there will be additional charges after the flight and what those might be for.
The last item a charter buyer needs to understand is that all private aircraft are not the same. Generally the larger the aircraft is, the more amenities it will have, but buyers need to be aware of the equipment installed on the aircraft. Some aircraft have enclosed lavatories, and some have only a curtain for privacy. Some aircraft have a fully functional galley, and some have only a cabinet with snacks and drinks. Some aircraft are equipped with satellite telephones and internet, and some have no outside communications except the pilot’s radios. If a charter buyer has a specific request, they should make sure those companies from whom they are getting quotes know and consider those requests when they provide different options.
We have a short Charter Buyer’s checklist that we think one should use when buying charter. Feel free to use it, and we wish you happy flying!
1) Ask to be shown a Wyvern “Pass report” or and ARG/US “Trip Cheq” for the flight you intend to take. This ensures legality and is a good indicator of safety.
2) Ask for multiple quotes. If using a broker ask for at least three different options.
3) Be specific about aircraft requirements. Not all aircraft have the same amenities.
4) Read the fine print on the quote and the contract. Some quotes have hidden fees that may surprise you after the trip.
5) Make sure you understand the cancellation policy. It would be disappointing to have to pay for a flight you didn’t even take, just because you waited too long to cancel.