Topic of the Week: How Much Would You Pay Delta to Upgrade to a Private Jet?


Delta came out with a really unique program this week. Since Delta has a fleet of private jets, it has come up with a way to offer its best customers the ability to upgrade from a scheduled flight to a private jet. This seems more opportunistic from Delta’s perspective. If it has a jet with nothing to do and it wants to get it from point A to point B, it can find a good customer who is flying the same route. But this won’t be free. How much would you be willing to pay if Delta offered you the chance to upgrade?

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20 comments on “Topic of the Week: How Much Would You Pay Delta to Upgrade to a Private Jet?

  1. I guess it depends on how much it is to upgrade to a first class cabin – for example, if the difference from main cabin to First JFK-LHR is around $5,000, and the difference from main cabin to business JFK-LAX is around 2000, I suppose that would put the price of a longer haul upgrade to a private jet around 5000 from JFK-LAX. One would receive a level of service more akin to international first class on a domestic private jet, so I think I would (hypothetically) not spend more that $5,000 to go private.
    That is without knowing what Netjets or similar would charge…
    … a long way of saying “I don’t know!”

  2. Its a great program for the 1%. Part of the allure of a private jet though is taking off/landing at smaller airports that are closer to business centers, etc. I can just imagine the new upgrade screen. Bigger seat = $100. First class = $500. Own jet = $5000. Kind of weird. . .

  3. You can figure about 15 to 20 times the cost of a first class ticket for a comparable route on a fractional jet. First class is one thing but private jets are in another league. I don’t think many people would be willing to pay that much for an upgrade unless their company really needed them to get somewhere.

  4. Currently DL Platinum, on the verge of being Diamond. I guess the answer is it depends. Did I pay for the ticket, or did work? How much is the upgrade? Do I get more MQM than I would in paid First or Delta One? I might spend 1K to check it out on a flight that’s long enough to warrant it. Maybe over 3 hours? I’m not paying anything extra to fly private from LGA to DTW. Though maybe that’s when I should. And I get that there’s cost to DL for ferrying an empty plane, but doesn’t this raise costs even more? If I am on the plane, they need an FA and some food/beverage. If I’m not on the plane, they don’t, right? Or they do for the pilots?

  5. Not a lot! Having spent 100 hours + on private planes over the last couple of years i can say that they’re great being squeezed in with your colleagues and friends when you’re making multiple stops or need to get to a hard to connect to area. Delta is saying the flights will mainly be between hubs at normal flight times. I’d rather take my wide upgraded seat on a mainline than be crammed in with other flyers.

  6. So far Delta is going to restrict this to the East Coast hubs. So people who were scheduled to fly between ATL, LGA/JFK, and CVG. I think they might eventually expand to DTW and MSP, but the Bloomberg article doesn’t specify if/when. All elites are eligible, though they will probably focus on the highest spenders to start.

    The pricing is $300 to $800 to upgrade, depending on the route flown.

    1. It sounds like Delta is trying to recover some money on this service as opposed to making the flight profitable. I would love to do it at least once. But, I’m based out west.

  7. If it is truly only 300-800 dollars, I think I would if I could, though part of the benefit of private jets is also skipping security lines as well. Would you be escorted to another part of the airport? There’s alot of questions here about the benefits that I wonder about. Sounds interesting either way.

  8. I don’t understand how this works with security. The people who would fly are paying a commercial airline to fly a scheduled route. Why does this still qualify as a general aviation flight, rather than having to go through the commercial terminal?

    1. Good question. I wonder if 121 ops are subject to TSA security and 135 ops aren’t?

      That being said I’d expect most of the passengers being offered this would be PRE members.

  9. No way, at ANY price, unless the pilots are REAL Delta pilots, hired and trained to Delta standards. Yes, my time is valuable, but my LIFE is more precious than an hour or two saved here or there. These pilots are not Delta pilots!

    1. Hrm. What is the accident rate per passenger mile flown for private charters versus mainline versus regional airlines versus driving yourself in a car somewhere?

      If you’re really worried about your life I recommend you never leave the house.

      This just sounds like mainline pilot scaremongering.

      1. Unlikely, since many of the fractional jet companies are represented by unions, albeit the Teamsters versus ALPA. I COULD see this as a problem with scope though, and I would imagine ALPA may be displeased if this became a common occurrence or somehow scheduled practice.

  10. Friends at DL said this is a way to recoup the “loss” on dead legs. I think its a brilliant idea. So if a flight is going from DCA to DTW, for example, why not email your Gold/Diamond/Plats/Kryptonimum medallionns and say “hey, wanna fly in a Lear for $500 more?”.. I bet a handful would take it – enough to cover the cost of gas and maybe make a buck or two.

    A Falcon 50 goes for $4,000/hour retail. the true cost is probably 1/2 that. Falcon 50 can get 8 people in there… so you do the math.

  11. This is not a one size fits all answer. Most of us would have to take into account the following factors: one way/RT; distance; ability to schedule to my preferences; discount for more than one passenger.


  12. My biggest concerns float around schedule reliability. Since these repo flights are done in the service of a “profitable” flight, what happens if that flight cancels? Am I still guaranteed the charter flight? I get they would still transport you from A to B regardless, but day of travel, or day before travel, I don’t want to stress out about what flight I’m actually taking and where I go to meet it.

    1. I’d expect at worse they’d put you back on your original flight and refund your money.

      I’m also curious how close to the day of travel they’re making this. They might only be offering this after the other flight has become non-refundable, so they get paid to fly it one way or the other.

  13. They basically are taking the Jet Suite Suite Deal and offering it only to elite flyiers.

    I’ll stick with JetSuite.

  14. The old adage: If you have to ask how much… then you can’t afford it.
    Private Jets are the most convenient, comfortable, time efficient mode of transportation, but you’re looking at a couple $10,000’s to go cross country one way…

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