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If You're Rich But Frugal, JetSmarter Has The Thing For You

It's newest service is pretty much UberPool for Jets.

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Are you incredibly wealthy but not one to turn your nose up at a quality sale? Do you sometimes bemoan the strictly over-the-phone process of booking a private jet on the fly? Well, JetSmarter has just the thing for you.

JetSmarter, a private jet-booking app backed by Jay Z and the Saudi royal family, is rolling out a new on-demand service that allows you to reserve just a few seats on a private jet at the date and time of your choice. JetSmarter describes it as UberPool for private jets — a “choose your own JetShuttle” service where you pay only for the seats that you book instead of a whole jet.

JetSmarter CEO Sergey Petrossov says using the service is “like creating your own custom airline," but it does have limitations. Bookings require a minimum of four seats per jet and you can only travel between New York and South Florida (for $4,950), Los Angeles and San Francisco ($1,950), and Los Angeles and Las Vegas ($1,950). Once you set your itinerary and book the seats you need, JetSmarter puts the remaining seats up for sale at cost through its JetDeals service. JetDeals, generally speaking, are prescheduled one-way flights — otherwise known as empty legs. They're available for free to JetDeals members who pay an $800/month membership fee, and to non-members for a discounted price determined by the journey. The prices, according to Petrossov, are far cheaper than what it would typically cost to charter a whole jet. Chartering a jet from L.A. to San Francisco, for example, can cost a minimum of $5,000, according to JetSmarter.


With JetSmarter's new “choose your own JetShuttle feature,” Petrossov hopes to one day bring jet chartering to the masses. “As the company continues growing, the entry-level price for creating your own shuttles will start to go down,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I would love to see a day where you can create your own shuttle [by booking] a minimum of two seats.”

Until then, JetSmarter is something of an anomaly among on-demand and sharing-economy companies. The “Uberification” of the economy has often been credited for taking sometimes luxe, often premium services and making them more accessible and affordable. Consider Uber, which transformed a once premium service into a utility. While Uber may have started out as a luxury black car service, one of its primary pitches today is that it helps people in underserved communities get easy and affordable transportation.

Companies like JetSmarter, however, and even the on-demand helicopter app Blade are bringing the convenience of mobile and on-demand technology to strictly wealthy audiences. Though demand may increase and prices may fall as JetSmarter expands, it seems unlikely the service will ever be as fractionally democratized as Uber, Postmates, Handy, and Taskrabbit. Even among the wealthy the “choose your own JetShuttle” feature may not be the obvious answer. While chartering a seat or two on a jet may be convenient for a quick trip with a friend, the appeal of flying private is typically just that: privacy.

Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.

Contact Johana Bhuiyan at johana.bhuiyan@buzzfeed.com.

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