Very light jets (VLJs) are revolutionizing private flying, making it possible to travel for business trips or vacations at short notice and with great ease. Two companies, DayJet and LinearAir, have tapped into the opportunity to use VLJs to offer travelers in the private aircraft market personalized service with no more than three passengers on most flights. These "Air Taxis" are changing private flying as we know it, and here is a look at how they do it.DayJet
(Update 2009 - DayJet closed in 2008, partly due to the downturn in the economy which meant it could not reach the planned scale)
Florida-based DayJet charges its 1500+ members per seat and operates on-demand service between a number of DayPort locations, which are community and regional airports throughout the sunshine state.
DayPort locations offer parking and waiting rooms of overstuffed living room-style chairs for traveler comfort and are chosen based on a detailed checklist. DayJet currently offers direct flights between five southeastern Florida destinations - Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and Tallahassee.
With a fleet of just over a dozen Eclipse 500 VLJs, DayJet boasts the largest fleet of its kind and plans to increase its number of jets to 300 within two years.
Prices vary based on destination and timeframe, and quotes are available upon request. The company's time-value pricing structure enables members to essentially name their prices. They can create a narrow travel window when time is of the essence, and they can set a larger window when their schedules allow. DayJet offers lower fares for members with more flexible time frames for travel.
DayJet, founded in 2002, plans to expand its flying network to over 40 destinations by the end of 2008, according to a statement released in October. The expanded travel repertoire is slated to include Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.LinearAir
LinearAir was founded in 2004 and has seen exponential growth since its initial flight that July. LinearAir differs from DayJet in location, destinations and services. The company is based in Concord, Massachusetts and offers private charter or shared charter Eclipse 500 VLJs.
Private charters fly to and from over 500 cities within the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Canada and the Caribbean for roughly $750 per hour, with prices varying by location and number of passengers. LinearAir's prices decrease as the number of passengers on your flight increase, offering "Fair Fare Credit" for use on future flights.
This means that for the typical cost of a crowded economy seat on a commercial airline, you could fly in style with a small group of travelers - without the hassle of hectic airports and parking problems.
LinearAir, like its competitors in the air taxi market, offers the convenience, comfort and flexibility you'd expect from a personal flying taxi service, without the exorbitant prices.
VLJs typically have a range of about 1,000 miles, so they're not very practical for flying across the country. But if you're looking for a stress-free way to get to business meetings in a limited locale, or if you want to enjoy a private jet for your vacation, then the Air Taxis now offer an interesting option.
These new Air Taxi services are just starting to evolve as VLJs start to make their way into the aircraft fleets. The economics of operating VLJs mean that the Air Taxi companies can offer fares that are about the same as a full fare coach and forecasters are predicting rapid growth for these services.
While the two companies profiled above currently depart from the Southeast and various areas in the Northeast, they both have large expansion plans and other Air Taxi companies are just getting going in other parts of the country and around the world.