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Post-COVID Getaways

As leisure travel returns, flight providers are teaming with high-end hospitality brands to offer safety-protocol-observing vacation packages.

COVID lockdowns have sparked a secondary epidemic: cabin fever among current and prospective charter customers.

“Leisure travelers are preparing for the easing of restrictions and looking to secure flexible and safe trips,” says Mark Briffa, CEO of global charter brokerage Air Partner, announcing a 450 percent year-over-year increase in new client deposits to close out 2021’s first quarter. Adds Ian Moore, COO at bespoke charter operator VistaJet, “As more people are vaccinated and borders reopen, we expect the [leisure-travel] demand to increase.” 

With that in mind, charter providers and high-end hospitality brands are partnering to offer safety-protocol-observing post-COVID getaway experiences by private jet for just about any popular destination, whether you’re traveling from the U.S., Asia, or the Middle East. (See sidebar below.)

If you’re considering such a package, keep in mind that where you’re going isn’t as important as who flies you there, and ensuring the safety, reliability, and quality of the air charter portion of the experience is critical. So, don’t pick your getaway package based just on the resort; learn about the charter provider.

Six Questions Every Charter Customer Should Ask

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Six Questions Every Charter Customer Should Ask

These queries are essential before you sign any deal with an operator or broker.

One benefit of private aviation is the concierge service quality those providers deliver; let them explain about the arrangements, learn about your travel preferences, and answer your questions not only about the transportation but about the resort and its amenities. 

Keep in mind that luxury destinations can be off the beaten path, with small aviation facilities and sometimes spotty ground service. A reliable, experienced charter operator with a superior ground game is particularly essential in such cases.

Going forward, leisure opportunities should increase in concert with the easing of lockdown restrictions. “The focus has been on one destination [per trip], but as vaccinations continue to be rolled out and travel restrictions around the world eased, I suspect multiple-destination itineraries will return,” says Elizabeth Ellis, founder of Blue Marble Private, a London-based luxury travel company.

That may happen soon. In May, the European Union agreed to reopen its borders for non-essential travel from outside the EU into the 27-member-state bloc (excluding Ireland), as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, for fully vaccinated foreigners and non-residents.

Meanwhile, if you’re desperate for a European getaway but haven't managed to get vaccinated yet or simply don't want to travel that far, you might consider that XO, the subscription charter service, has introduced “Experience Europe without Europe” charter packages. These feature luxury trips to what the company terms the most “Ameropean style” U.S. cities: New Orleans, Boston, St. Augustine, Florida; and Calistoga, California, among them.

Package Deals

As noted in the story above, private jet companies are increasingly partnering with lifestyle brands to offer luxury vacation packages. Some examples:

  • California-based Jet Edge International and Montage International have partnered to offer special charter rates to the latter’s resorts in such locations as Lahaina, Hawaii; Abacos, Bahamas; and Los Cabos, Mexico. The rates include access to “exclusive luxury events,” according to Jet Edge CEO Bill Papariella.
  • Magellan Jets clients now have access to Blue Sky Luxury Travels’ catalog of private islands, villas, and yacht charters destinations spanning the Caribbean, Hawaii, and the South Pacific.
  • VistaJet has created Safe Havens, giving members of its block charter program access to hotels, residences, private islands, yachts, and ski destinations around the world.
  • NetJets and the Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort on the Bahamas’ Paradise Island, are offering a Jet to Villa package.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, and evoJets are touting a “Let’s Jet Away" package, featuring oceanfront accommodations and room for 12 aboard your jet.
  • Fly Louie, a consortium representing some 200 independent charter operators, has partnered with Manifest, a “chapter-based” luxury getaway provider that offers all-inclusive trips by private jets within about two hours of its chapter locations. (Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, San Diego, and Santa Barbara, California, are among current chapters.) The alliance will allow operators to offer these trips to clients without requiring a Manifest membership. 
  • Charter operator Tradewind Aviation and luxury travel agency Embark Beyond’s new charter packages feature “daycations” in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the latter including a trip to the Tudor-style Northeast Blantyre resort in Lenox, Massachusetts, capped by a gourmet picnic lunch prepared by CafĂ© Boulud at Blantyre.