The Advantages and Drawbacks of Charter Flights

Charter flights are an alternative to commercial flights. In 1987 the Civil Aeronautics Board opened charters to the public and permitted a great deal of flexibility and competitiveness. Anyone can fly a public charter. It is not restricted to an individual; groups can also charter flights.

You can fly charters into one city and return from somewhere else. One-way tickets, known in charter-industry lingo as “half roundtrips”(one-way tickets), can be bought. Charters can land at over 5,300 airports in the U.S., while commercial airlines are limited to the 560 airports with landing strips long enough to support them. Hence, charter airlines can get you closer to your final destination than commercial airlines.

In chartered flights, you deal directly with the wholesale tour operators who act as core entities, unlike scheduled flights. In turn, the tour operators charter entire planes or segments of planes from airlines to fly specific routes at specific times. They set fares and sell tickets either through their own retail outlets, through travel agents, or through discount dealerships.

The price is the main advantage of charter flights. Although the fares fluctuate considerably depending on the seasons, they cost from $50-$200 less than the lowest round-trip excursion fare on a scheduled airline. Depending on the changes in the travel, the charter fares slide low on off-days and higher on weekends.

Larger tour operators with many flights to different places sell half round-trips that permit you to fly to one destination and return from another. Two half round-trips cost only slightly more than one “whole” round-trip. Other large operators even allow some flexibility for altering your return trip, although this privilege cannot be counted upon on every charter. Charters often provide the only nonstop or direct service overseas from interior cities.

One of the main drawbacks of charters is that they don’t go everywhere. While many charter flights take off for Europe or Southeast Asia, few are available to countries whose

Governments have protectionist policies toward national or state-owned airlines. Consequently, few charters are available to the Far East. Secondly, charters have restricted and inflexible schedules. Tour operators arrange back-to-back flights on which planes fly into, for example, Los Angeles, on Saturday morning, and depart on Saturday night. You can stay any number of weeks, but you cannot fly within the week or on any other day.

Charter passengers must pay for the charter flight weeks or possibly months in advance. Tour operators will sell seats until the last minute, but in practice, the most desirable dates fill up early. Also, passengers who alter or cancel their travel plans are subject to substantial penalties.

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