For most people, getting from point A to point B, whether for daily commute or vacation, is at best a tedious necessity that goes off without incident, or at worst a nightmare scenario that turns them into their worst selves. For those with the means, though, transportation can be an art form of design and technology to be savored — an opportunity to adorn one’s life with ease and luxury.
Not all luxury transportation is the exclusive realm of A-listers, C-Suite execs, and heads of state, however. Some rental and charter options can elevate an everyday experience for people without a single famous person on speed dial. The popularity of private jet travel in particular has surged, driven in large part by the pandemic and the appeal of avoiding the regular hassles associated with flying.
Mearon Okonsky, CEO of Arizona-based Centurion Jets, says his charter services have been booming, and mostly for practical reasons. “What you’re really buying is time,” he said. “People aren’t flying private for the champagne and opulence of it. Most people do it for the efficiency.”
From land and air to even beneath the sea, find out what it would cost to rent a slice of the luxe life.
Just like the mass market travel industry, flight costs vary greatly with private bookings, depending on your flight distance, dates, flight operator and other factors. There are also a number of different booking models, including directly with companies, memberships, and new Expedia-like options in the market.
Pricing in the industry is generally based on time in the air. For an hour-long jaunt from New York to Washington, D.C. on a light jet with seats for 5-7 people, an entire flight with Centurion typically runs between $7,000 and $10,000 per hour of flight, Okonsky says.
Another direct booking company, XO, allows passengers a range of options from chartering an entire jet, selling the seats you’re not using to other passengers, or booking a single seat on a jet chartered by someone else. Popular XO routes like New York to Miami this winter are currently running for around $27,000 for an entire 8-seat plane (one way), or between roughly $2,000 and $4,000 for a one-way single seat.
New players like Jettly are aiming to disrupt the industry with a model that works similar to Expedia, searching more than 3,000 operators on the Jettly platform to match you to available flights. Typical hourly rates for a light or midsize jet (8-10 seats) are $6,000 and $8,000 respectively. Jettly CEO Justin Crabbe says that when a plane is filled to capacity, the cost per passenger is roughly 10% higher than flying first or business class.
Ideal for reaching crowded city centers, remote destinations, or the deck of your superyacht, helicopters can’t be beat for agility and convenience. Private charter companies like Blade have flexible options, depending on your need. You can purchase seats on a scheduled flight, charter your own copter, or create a crowdsourced charter, which means you charter the flight and earn back credits for seats purchased by other users on your flight.
A one-way trip from New York to the Hamptons, one of Blade’s popular routes, starts at $895 per person, or $4,470 for a full charter.
Helicopters are also great for pleasure tours of rugged landscapes. Take Rocky Mountain Rotors, flying charters and tours throughout Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, including sites like the petrified forests of Montana’s Gallatin Range or Yellowstone National Park. Their “granddaddy” copter, the Bell 429, is a twin-engine four-bladed model that can carry seven passengers, and is reputed for its stability, smoothness and legroom. With large touring windows for a great view, bookings cost $5,000 per hour.
Fancy a holiday at sea in the waters of Greece, the South Pacific, the fjords of Norway, or to visit Antarctic glaciers? There are yachts to get you there.
The 446-foot Flying Fox is the world’s largest charter yacht, according to YachtCharterFleet. It has 11 cabins with room for 25 guests, twin helipads, a 12-meter swimming pool, a two-floor spa, a beach club, gym, cinema, and a master suite with his and her bathrooms. It also comes with a crew of 55, jet skis, scuba diving equipment, and six tender boats, including a Compass Limo Tender. The cost is approximately $2,879,000 per week (plus other expenses).
Expedition yachts that are designed for longer voyages will take you to farther-flung corners like Antarctica. Packed with many of the same luxe amenities, you can charter one of these for as little as $21,000 per week in a more modest upgraded vintage 1960s tug boat, or upwards of $2 million per week for something like the Octopus, featuring a glass-bottomed observation lounge, full cocktail bar, and a personal submarine and crew for up to eight people.
If you’ve always dreamed of destinations far beneath the sea, you can even charter transportation to see places very few humans have laid eyes on.
Netherlands-based U-Boat Worx will meet you anywhere in the world with a 3-person submersible called the Super Yacht Sub 3, a compact luxury model designed to fit aboard a superyacht, while offering individual climate control, surround sound music and a cold box for chilled beverages.
A one-week charter will cost you a base rate of €70,000 (about $68,000) with rates reduced the longer you go out. At four weeks, the rate goes down to €55,000 ($53,755) per week. The crew will cost you €12,000 ($11,728) more, plus various additional operational fees adding up to €35,000 ($34.208), An optional support vessel costs an extra €35,000 per week.
For the citizen scientist, you can dive to depths approaching 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) with OceanGate Expeditions, which are led by teams of explorers, researchers and scientists. You can command your own customized expedition with the Everett, Washington-based company by letting them know where and when your yacht will be docked and what undersea interests you’d like to pursue. They’ll meet you there with a state-of-the-art 5-person sub, support vessel and crew.
Since the costs vary so widely depending on date, location and duration, OceanGate only provides quotes upon request.
If you’d like to join OceanGate on one of their pre-planned excursions as a “Mission Specialist,” you will be trained to play an operational role among the crew to dive sites like the Titanic, (cost: $250,000), oceanographic research trips to U.S. East Coast deep sea canyons ($45,000), or to help document sunken WWII submarines.
Luxury and Exotic Cars
Ready to hit the open road in your dream car? You can pretty much rent anything on four wheels, from a speedy Lamborghini to a stately Bentley.
At Zadart Exotic Car Club & Rentals in Las Vegas, you can spend an hour cruising in a Lamborghini Huracan with unlimited mileage for just $300. A date night package will surely be one to remember, for $750 (up to 50 miles).
The fleet of Bentleys and Rolls Royces available for rent at South Beach Exotic Rentals in Miami runs between $899 and $1,699 per day. The most expensive rental, a Bentley Mulsanne, is the luxury British carmaker’s discontinued flagship model.
Newer peer-to-peer rental companies like Turo, which could be described as Airbnb for cars, make all types of rides accessible to anyone looking for a fun and affordable splurge. A Porsche 911 can be found for as little as $179 a day, or try out a Tesla Model S for less than $150 a day.
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Disclaimer: Prices are accurate as of Sept. 30, 2022, and are subject to change.