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Advantages of charter over commercial flights
Chartering a private jet is easy and has many advantages compared to flying commercial. It de-stresses your travel day, saves time, is more convenient and more enjoyable. You also get that special excitement, buzz and instagrammable photos that only the last bastion of aviation glamor can give.
You can take as much luggage as you like. You will park your car right in front of the terminal and staff will carefully unload your luggage from your car and load it into the aircraft for you.
You don’t have to deal with cost cutting airline nuisances like delayed flights, being sat next to an annoying passenger, being squeezed into small seats and given bad food. You avoid slow and unfriendly airport security, difficult airport parking, waiting in line and all that kind of thing.
You can request you favorite foods and drinks in advance. Since I fly with my 4 year old I just ask for no junk food and nothing spicy. If you don’t make special requests the catering will be about as good as first class on an airline but with no or very few options. The cabin crew simply buy takeaway food at a nice restaurant before the flight and then plate it up for you.
You get to decide what time you want to depart. You can show up 15 minutes before your departure time, or you can even show up late, no problem!
On our last trip to Samui we left home on time but my little one got car-sick all over herself. No worries, we stopped at an outdoor cafe we were passing, gave the little one a proper wash and change of clothes, changed the car seat cover for a towel, walked around a bit for some fresh air and gave her a few bites of bland food to settle her stomach.
We continued on feeling fine and got to the airport well after our scheduled departure time, which was not a problem. If we were flying commercial it would have been a big stressful problem.
When to fly private and when to fly commercial
You can avoid a lot of the problems with commercial flight that I mentioned above, by simply flying first class, and that is still the best option when it’s available. If there is a first class commercial flight available, then take it. Unfortunately there are less and less first class flights offered by airlines. They make more money by squeezing in as many people as possible into as few different classes as possible.
So when there is no first class flight available, private is the way to go. And in Thailand there are no first class domestic flights at all!
My last couple of international trips were Bangkok Zurich for a conference and Bangkok Doha for the FIFA World Cup. Swiss and Qatar Airways had great first class direct flights that my daughter and I enjoyed. Our last couple of trips in Thailand were to Phuket and to Chiang Mai, with no first class option available, we went private and loved it.
Thai private jet operators
All domestic private charters in Thailand must be flown by Thai operators. So while you can book an international charter to/from Thailand with VistaJet, NetJets, Wheels Up, XO or any of those overseas companies, you can not use them for domestic flights within Thailand. That is why the prices are so high! (see below).
In Thailand your local private jet charter options are
If you fly to/from Bangkok you will use the older, smaller airport that is closer to town, Don Muang (DMK). Not the newer larger airport, Suvarnabhumi (BKK). This is because Don Muang has a dedicated private jet terminal which is the base for all the private jet operators.
MJets – The industry leaders
MJets are the undisputed leaders in all aspects of private aviation in Thailand. All other operators use the MJets terminal at Don Muang Airport for their Bangkok flights. MJets fleet consists of the following aircraft
- Cessna Citation Bravo – 6 seats, light jet.
- Cessna Citation X – 8 seats, midsize jet.
- Gulfstream G5 – 14 seats, large jet.
- Gulfstream G550 – 16 seats, long range jet.
MJets website also lists the 10 seat Gulfstream G200, however that is out-of date-information. The G200 is no longer available for charter through MJets, but Advanced Aviation does have one available.
The M at the start of MJets is because they are part of the Minor hospitality group, which also includes five star operations like Four Seasons, Six Senses and Anantara hotels and resorts.
I have flown MJets half a dozen times, the staff are all lovely and professional and the aircraft are always beautifully presented. I have tried the smaller Cessna Citation Bravo and the mid-sized Cessna Citation X. The X comes with an Air Hostess which adds glamor, wow factor and is good for the photos (having the Air Hostess either take photos for you or be in your photos). I am okay without the Air Hostess and given my bookings are for 2-4 people the Bravo makes the most sense for us.
There are opportunities for improvement. The first time I emailed all 3 operators for a quote, Mjets were the only one that did not bother responding, even after my Thai girlfriend called to follow up. They seem to be better now and they have a “Request a Quote” form on their website.
I wish MJets had online flight booking and management and I wish they had packages or a loyalty program. I asked for a multi-booking package like a discount for 10 flights per year. They offered me about a 2% discount in the low season only! Disappointing.
In summary, go with MJets unless you want to save money (in that case go with Executive Wings prop plane) or you want a 10 seater super midsize jet (in that case go with Advanced Aviation’s Gulfstream G200).
Executive Wings/Siam Land
While Executive Wings operate out of MJets terminal at Don Muang they also have their own beautiful new dedicated private jet terminal at Phuket International Airport. Their charter fleet consists of the following aircraft
- King Air 350 – 8 seats, propeller
- Hawker 800XP – 8 seats, midsize jet
- Hawker 850XP – 8 seats, midsize jet
My first time flying private was with Executive Wings in their Hawker 850XP, which is practically the same thing as the 800XP. The service and organization was great. Unfortunately being an older and out of date model the aircraft suffers from cabin noise and vibrations, making it hard to relax and feel comfortable.
MJets’ Citations give a much nicer cabin experience for the same type of aircraft so it’s hard to see why you would use Executive Wings’ jets. I only did because MJets did not reply to my email the first time I tried to book with them.
Executive Wings’ little prop plane is an interesting option for all the convenience of a private jet at 65% of the cost. It looks and feels a lot less glamorous and exciting though, including for the photos. I will report back after I try it.
You might think there is some benefit to fly Mjets from Bangkok and Executive Wings from Phuket, since they own the respective private jet terminals. I have found this makes no difference; they have terminal sharing agreements and that part of the experience was identical with either operator from either airport.
Advanced Aviation only has the super midsize, 10 seat, Gulfstream G200 available for charter. They are the only local operator with that category of jet available so if that is the right aircraft for your trip then go for it. Advance Aviation customer service has always been responsive and lovely when I contacted them.
Flying from Suvarnabhumi, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Korat or Kanchanaburi
I don’t recommend flying out of airports within a few hours drive of Don Muang; its better to drive to Don Muang and board there. This is because the aircraft starts at Don Muang so your charter starts at Don Muang; you would have to pay for it to fly empty from of Don Muang to your boarding point.
For example, let’s say you start in Pattaya and your destination is Phuket. If you drive to Don Muang and board there, then the aircraft will fly:
Don Muang Phuket
However if you want to board in Pattaya, then the aircraft will fly:
Don Muang Pattaya Phuket
And you will have to pay for that first empty flight!
Also the Dong Muang private jet terminal is custom made and set up to operate private jet flights, with appropriate privacy and security. Those smaller airports don’t have dedicated private jet terminals so may not operate as smoothly. Having said that, if saving time is the top priority, then go for it.
Bring your kid’s birth certificates
If you fly with your kids, even domestically, bring a copy of their birth certificates. We have always had basically no security checks when departing Don Muang, but we do get security checks when departing other airports such as Chiang Mai.
Price of private jet charters in Thailand
These prices are indicative in 2023 for a non-holiday in the low season return from Don Muang (DMK) to Phuket (HKT).
Pretty much anywhere that is too far to drive to from Bangkok is about 1 hour flight and they all cost about the same, for example:
- Chiang Mai
- Chiang Rai
- Hat Yai
- Udon Thani
You pay for the whole aircraft so the price is almost the same if you have 1 passenger or fill every seat to capacity.
|Seats – class
|Dong Muang Phuket return
|King Air 350
|8 – propeller
|Cessna Citation Bravo
|6 – light jet
|Hawker 850 XP
|8 – midsize jet
|Cessna Citation X
|8 – midsize jet
|10 – super midsize jet
|12 – large jet