Lexi Shangraw, a San Francisco resident, flew to Phoenix in early March for what was supposed to be a brief visit. But when lockdowns started, she ended up staying longer than anticipated in hopes of waiting out Covid-19.
Last month, she decided it was finally time to return home. Dubious about the safety of big commercial airlines, she chose JSX, a hybrid private jet service that departs from small, private terminals. In the world of private jet travel, Ms. Shangraw got a good deal. Her one-way ticket on a semiprivate jet to Oakland, Calif., cost $159. That same day, a flight to the Bay Area on American Airlines would have cost $150, she said.
Ms. Shangraw is among the growing number of Americans using private jets, seeing them as a safer alternative to the often cramped commercial flights filled with strangers during the pandemic. The day after the Fourth of July, when commercial airline travel was down 74 percent year-over-year, private jet flights were up five percent, according to an analysis of data from Argus, an aviation consulting firm, by Doug Gollan, who runs the website Private Jet Card Comparisons.
On JSX, passengers still fly with up to 29 strangers (though Ms. Shangraw said there were fewer than 15 on her flight), but there’s no need to arrive two hours early (the company recommends 20 minutes), because there are no security lines and no complex boarding procedures. JSX flights tend to cost between $300 and $500 one way, per person, but some shorter legs can cost less than $100.