The holiday season is the busiest travel time for all of the private aviation companies, with peak days being the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the day before Christmas Eve, and the two days after Christmas. The winter months are also busiest at the mountain airports because of ski season. That, combined with the somewhat treacherous conditions, can result in more delays than usual.
Many of the private aviation companies have special policies during the holiday and winter months. For example, Citation Air may adjust flight times by 1-3 hours with advance notice during the days surrounding the specific peak days. Rates can also be higher during the peak season - Sentient charges members current cardholder hourly rates plus 5%. See more of the peak policies and rates in this article.
Another travel concern during the winter months is the slot program, which is used at some of the popular mountain airports. The FAA implements the slot program during times from December-February to control congestion in the winter months. Private jet companies must apply in advance for a slotted arrival time at select airports in the US. Learn more about the slot program in this article.
Plan in Advance:
Matt Rehm from XOJET recommends that you try to book your private jet 90 days in advance. While most companies will absolutely try to accomodate any request clients have, booking in advance gives you the best chance to get your preferred equipment and the lowest rates. Clearly 90 days is a long time, but the sooner ahead you can book the more options you will have.
Limit Your Baggage:
Winter travel can also require more baggage, including ski equipment and holiday presents. Having too much baggage may require you to move to a larger (and therefore more expensive) aircraft. If you can, and if you really do have a very large amount of luggage, then try shipping some of the larger items ahead of time.
Be flexible in which airports you fly through. Smaller airports may be a better option than larger airports during this busy time. Larger airports often require slot reservations, have fuel surcharges, and are busier than their smaller counterparts. In addition, flexibility with departure and arrival dates and times may save you money.
Overall, this is the time of year when a little planning and fore-thought can really help.