International Destinations

international destinations

If you are planning an international trip, flying private can be the fastest, easiest, most comfortable (and often the only direct way) to reach your destination. However, international destinations require a little more planning than a domestic trip.

Differences from Domestic (U.S.) Charters
The key difference between domestic and international destinations is that you will be interacting with a foreign government, subject to their laws and regulations, and these vary from country to country. In addition to the usual landing fees, there are also customs fees and sometimes permits. For example, Italy has a luxury tax that gets assessed on charter flights within its territory.  All the fees and costs should be included in the quote from your operator or broker.

A big benefit of international destinations is that you won’t be subject to the 7.5% federal excise tax (except for flights to destinations in Mexico and Canada that are within 225 miles of the U.S. border). You are only responsible for the international departure tax of $18 per passenger per leg.

Choosing the Right Plane
In selecting an aircraft, there are two primary considerations for international destinations: distance of each leg, and length of the destination runway. You might need a midsize jet to fly nonstop from the continental U.S., or a heavy jet to accommodate 15 passengers, but your destination runway might only be long enough for a turboprop to land. In this case, you will need to choose a different destination airport, and then connect via smaller plane or boat.

St Bart’s is a good example of this situation. The runway there is short and nestled between mountains and the sea, making it so difficult that pilots are required to have special training and approval to land there. If your destination is St Bart’s, you will need to fly into St Maarten, then connect via boat or a local plane with the approval and expertise to land there.

If you are crossing the Atlantic or Pacific, you will need a super midsize jet or larger with the range to cover the distance without refueling.

Customs and Immigration
When flying outside of the United States, passengers need to be cleared by immigration prior to departure.  All international destinations require that you clear customs upon entry (and the same with returning to the U.S.) Each country has one or more airports of entry; if your final destination is not a customs port of entry, then you will need to make a stop at one prior to proceeding.

The customs process is much easier than at commercial airports, since custom officials come directly to the aircraft and clear the passengers. There are no lines and the process is usually quicker. Travelers need to make the usual declarations about imports and are subject to the same customs restrictions, and will be required to pay applicable duties.  If you arrive outside normal airport hours, there will be an extra charge for a customs official to meet you.

Last Minute Trips
Same-day trips are possible for some international destinations, but often the operator will need to obtain a permit in advance, which can take a day or more, depending on the destination country. Air travel from the U.S. or Canada to many of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations will involve flying over Cuba; this requires an overflight permit which can take a few days to obtain. If there is not enough time to secure this permit, then the operator will need to go around Cuba, which will add substantially more time and cost to your trip.

On weekends there are more limitations. U.S. registered aircraft, for example, cannot perform a short notice flight to the UK on a Sunday as the civil aviation office is closed so cannot grant permits.

Each international jet charter passenger (and crew member) needs a valid passport to travel out of the U.S. Some countries require a visa as well, so it is important to know the requirements in advance and to obtain the proper credentials prior to boarding your flight.

Request a quote today and start planning your international jet charter trip.