Do I need an ESTA if flying privately or on a charter plane?

Category: ESTA Tourism | 0
Private Jet

Although flying to the United States onboard a private jet or charter plane could be the experience of a lifetime, you still need to abide by all the normal legal requirements. If your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you can enter the United States on a private or charter plane with a valid ESTA. If you are from a non-VWP country, you should apply for a visa well before the time, just like when you are flying with a commercial airline.

Regardless of the type of flight, you should, of course, also have your passport with you when entering the United States from abroad. While technically you can board an internal private flight from, e.g., New York to Miami without having your passport on you, it’s probably a better idea to always carry it with you for identification purposes.

Will my luggage be scanned before my flight?

As is the case with commercial flights, your luggage will normally also be scanned before you can board a charter plane or private jet. There are no mile-long queues, so the whole process should be quick and effortless. The normal limits on maximum luggage size also do not apply, so the maximum total luggage size and weight limits are typically quite generous.

You also won’t have to walk down long corridors with your bags. Private airports or terminals are generally speaking designed to make the route to the plane as short and as quick as possible.

Will I still have to pass through a security check?

Passengers who want to board a private or charter plane must pass through security checks like their counterparts flying on commercial planes. Unlike the latter, however, FBOs have private terminals that enable travelers to board much more quickly and without the need to e.g., separate liquids or remove their shoes. The normal restrictions on the amount of liquid you are allowed to take with you onboard the plane typically do not apply to private flights.

You will have a personal escort helping you to get through the private check-in process effortlessly. And unlike the standard security protocol followed with commercial flights, you will be searched immediately before you board the plane. So, while you must undergo a security check, it will be quicker and easier than a commercial flight.

Do they also check your bags on a private or charter jet?

Luggage on private jets and charter flights still has to undergo normal X-ray and other security checks and could be randomly inspected. This also applies to items you bring with you on the plane as cabin baggage. Examples include electronic equipment such as laptops, smartphones, and handbags.

The waiting area at private terminals also tends to be a lot quieter than their commercial counterparts. The terminal staff or flight crew is in charge of the check-in process for passengers, their check-in luggage, and their cabin baggage. To summarize, you will find the check-in process quicker and more effortless than with a commercial airline.

Will I be allowed to smoke on s private/charter flight?

As mentioned earlier, the rules for private flights are not as strict as for commercial flights. Smoking is, therefore, normally allowed on board the former. When you are dealing with a lease, though, the rules could differ from one company to the next, depending on the owner’s preferences. Every private jet or charter plane makes its own rules on what can be done or not on board.

Although it is possible to allow smoking on private jets and charter planes, they still have to follow the regulations/rules laid down by the relevant regulatory agency. This includes having to provide sufficient ashtrays and putting up the necessary signage.

We would nevertheless advise readers to ask about the smoking rules before boarding a private flight. Nobody likes a mid-air confrontation over something as mundane as smoking.

Will I be able to get some work done on board a private/charter flight

If you are a businessman or woman, you would probably want to know whether you will be able to use your phone, tablet, or laptop during the flight to do some last-minute work. The truth is that nearly every private plane offers a solid Wi-Fi connection and, most of the time, also a satellite flight telephone. There should, therefore, not be any problem with bringing the tools of your trade on board and working during the flight while sipping your favorite drink.

The situation is much the same if you are working remotely and you need a good Wi-Fi signal and a quiet place to do your work. In fact, you will typically have much better privacy on board a private flight than on a commercial one. You should be able to enjoy private phone conversations and use your laptop to do confidential work without being bothered.

I am traveling with a pet. What is the situation regarding this with a private flight?

For any pet, a flight can be a really scary experience. Being able to fly with you in the cabin on board a private flight will go a long way to reduce the stress – both for the pet and yourself.

The rules regarding pet passports and other documentation remain the same, regardless of whether you are flying with a commercial or private plane. You still have to provide proof that the animal is fit to travel and healthy.

The most important document you will need is a pet’s health certificate. This has to be issued by a qualified and accredited veterinarian. Such a certificate remains valid for a period of 90 days but has to be issued not less than ten days before the start of your journey.

The veterinarian must also certify that your pet is in good health and does not suffer from any infectious diseases. You will also need a vaccination certificate to show that it has been vaccinated against diseases such as rabies. Plus, you will be asked to give the number of the animal’s microchip to the vet, so he or she can record it on the pet’s passport.

Flying with your pet inside the United States

The American Departments of Transportation and Agriculture have issued the following guidelines when it comes to flying with pets while you are in the United States.

  • Cats and dogs have to be at least 8 weeks old
  • They have to be weaned before they can embark on a flight
  • Proof that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies must be provided

The bottom line

Flying on board a private jet will normally be an amazing experience that offers the ultimate in convenience and luxury. Before the flight, however, you should ensure that you have all the necessary documentation, including a passport that will remain valid for at least 90 days after your return, a visa, or an eTA. And if you are flying with your beloved pet, make sure that it has a valid pet passport, vaccination certificate, and other required documentation. Pets also have to be microchipped.