With the click of a few buttons, you could be on your way to anywhere in the world in a private jet. As long as you can afford it.
New apps and services are streamlining the booking process for high-end vacations, which once involved brokers and connections. Now, the luxury market is more accessible than ever — electronically, if not financially — with private jet services like JetSmarter, which raised $105 million in funding in 2016, valuing the company at $1.5 billion, and Lynjet, which recently launched in the U.S. and allows subscribers to access private jet listings through their website and book the best deal through the platform. (Lynjet plans to expand, but is now just available in the U.S. and Europe.)
There is one big advantage to using an app. People, particularly high-profile travelers, can pay premium prices just because of their boldfaced name. “It gives clients anonymity and prevents them from being offered different prices based on who they are,” Lynjet president and founder Linda Sellidj told MarketWatch. The company advertised one 8-person flight from London to Marrakesh for 10,000 euros or 1,250 euros ($1,339) per person and a 10-person private jet from New York to the U.K. for 24,000 euros or 2,400 euros ($2,571) per person.
These services come as the luxury travel industry is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2020, according to a 2016 report from global computer reservations system Amadeus AMS, -0.39% . And while they may not all involve traveling in a private jet, the report found luxury trips are projected to grow at a rate of 6.2%, almost a third greater than overall travel (4.8%). “What was once a niche sector is now outperforming the growth of travel overall,” Debbie Iannaci, director of corporate communications at Amadeus North America said.
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It can make sense for large groups who can all afford to travel in style, especially if they’re paying less than what they would pay flying in first class. The U.K. to New York deal on Lynjet that runs 2,400 euros per person is cheaper than a first-class ticket which is $5,906 on United Airlines UAL, +0.07%, according to prices from Kayak.com. Some private jet companies, like JetSuite.com, offer seats on domestic flights for as little as $99 per person, but the routes (and airports) are limited and this involves traveling as part of a large group. SurfAir and Beacon offer monthly subscriptions.
Of course, the average traveler, who worries about baggage fees and leg room, will be priced out of this market. Jason Clampet, co-founder and head of content at travel trend website Skift said just because these services are more accessible doesn’t mean the average consumer can afford them, and says it is a nice market. In fact, a number of services fashioning themselves as a kind of Uber for private jets (with celebrity backers) have hit the market, but failed to hit people’s smartphones in sufficient numbers and closed down. “Unfortunately, these services are largely out of reach for most people financially,” Clampet said.
Still, there may be some ways to travel in style that won’t cost thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands of dollars). The new wave of on-demand luxury travel isn’t limited to the skies: GetMyBoat, another on-demand booking tool, allows people to rent boats (including high-end luxury rentals and yachts) with the touch of a button. It could cost anything from $40 an hour for a speedboat to $17,000 a day for a 116-foot Motor Yacht Azimut. Apps provide instant booking and instant reviews, said Jess Segraves, a spokeswoman for GetMyBoat. “Travelers can explore photos, read reviews, and see what other people think of the experience.”