First Class Vs Private Jet Travel – Which Is Better?

The age-old question for those who want for nothing: to fly first class in commercial, or to finally buy your own private jet? Which is better? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think.

Private Jet
What is better, your own jet or to fly first class? Photo: Monarch Air Group

What are we comparing?

Airlines have two different directions in order to attract customers. They can either offer the lowest possible cost and charge for everything, or they can market themselves as a full-service carrier, with meals and included baggage. Some even go a step further and offer increasingly high-end services, to the point that they are the pinnacle of luxury.

But nothing has captured the imagination more than private flying. The idea that at the airport waiting for you is a private flying saloon exclusively for you and your guests, that will take you anywhere in the world; some have said it is the best of the best and nothing can beat it.

However, when you examine the two ways of flying there is a difference and you will see that each caters to a very different crowd.

Advantages of flying first class

First class used to be very common. Stretching out at the front of the plane in front of the business leaders and the holidaymakers in their respective cabins, first-class was seen as the domain of celebrities and empire owners. However, as airlines improved their business class offerings to remain competitive, some concessions were made in first. Gone was the exclusive lie-flat seats, the champagne, and the private suites. In the end, very few airlines bothered to keep first class going.

However, those that do maintain a luxury cabin often offer an amazing experience. From showers to vast amounts of exclusive real estate to even private lounges onboard. And we have not even touched on the limo rides, terminal lounges, spas and more perks that passengers enjoy before and after their flight.

The freshened up the first-class seat on the refurbished Qantas A380. Photo: Qantas.

Take Etihad for example; passengers willing to pay can book ‘The Residence’, a private three-room cabin onboard the A380 that has a bedroom, bathroom (with shower) and a lounge for receiving guests. In their own words:

“Your Etihad Butler will be at your service during your flight. They will welcome you onboard and show you to your 3-room apartment on the upper deck of the A380. Choose a drink from your chilled refreshments cabinet and allow us to walk you through the most incredible experience in the sky.”

Advantages of flying private

However, there is one advantage of flying private that trumps flying in first class. You take off when you want.

When you book or buy a private jet, you now get to choose when you fly and who you fly with. A 16-seater aircraft can transport yourself and up to 15 friends, if you choose to bring them. On a commercial aircraft, you need to choose carefully as seating availability might not be there during peak periods.

Private jet
Private jets offer flexibility over luxury. Photo: Simple Flying.

Plus flying private has the advantage of being quick. No more security checks or dealing with the general public, moving privately from car to plane in under 15 minutes. In some areas for domestic flights, you can just drive right up to the aircraft.

In the words of Florida based Monarch Air Group, a company which charters private jets:

While the number of destinations and connecting flights are decision drivers for luxury commercial passengers, aircraft availability and flexibility policies (last-minute changes in itineraries, destination or inflight amenities) are factors that make the difference in a private flight.

Which is best?

But of course, if you are currently debating these two transport modes, then the money isn’t really a problem for you and thus is flying private the better choice?

Not quite. In the arms race to be the best first class in the skies, commercial aircraft have been able to throw infinity more resources towards making their experience so exceptional that private aircraft can’t keep up. Showers, double beds and lounges have taken the place of fold-out beds or claustrophobic cabins and simply put, those who like ever-changing variety will find themselves at home flying commercial.

But those who need to fly frequently and impulsively, private aircraft are the way to go. They might not be as comfortable as a large aircraft, but that flexibility is priceless.

The true comprise, however, is to rent an entire A380 yourself, combining space with spontaneity… perhaps give wet-lease airline Hi Fly a call. 

What do you think? Which is best? Which do you regularly prefer? Let us know in the comments.