Today there are many private aviation brokers out there using slick stock broker tactics to sell trips on aircraft they have never seen. From larger firms to small boutiques these brokers all operate in the same fashion. They buy a flight from an operator at around a 5% discount, mark it up about 15% and sell it to the customer. They often promise savings of up to 50% but most often it is cheaper to go directly to the owner/operator.
The problem with booking trips through brokers is that they usually are not familiar with the equipment they are putting you on or the pilots flying you. While it is true that all private aircraft operate under the same FAA regulations the safety ratings and pilot experience differ. Essentially what you are purchasing when you go through a broker is a blind date in the air. If the aircraft has a mechanical problem will the operator send another similar aircraft? Will they send one at all? These are questions that your broker may answer but how do you know if he is telling the truth. He certainly is not going to give you the operators contact info so you are forced to take his word.
Brokers have certain tricks that they use to increase margins and revenue. For instance many brokers have a 100% no refund cancellation policy with whatever terms they want. The operator may refund all or part of the money depending on the amount of notice given. In such a case the broker would pocket all of your money, making out like a bandit. Another tactic brokers invoke is selling one way empty legs and charging round trip pricing. When a jet is based out of New York and drops someone in Florida it is has to head back to New York. When brokers sell these trips they are forced to pay (charge the customer) for the trip back. In theory they can sell these empty legs at half the price or lower however it is common for them to act as if the aircraft is Florida based. They will then charge you the full round trip rate and keep the extra money.
The fact is brokers make money on margins. This means that they are going to find you the cheapest option out there. You may wind up on an old aircraft that is poorly maintained and has a high amount of hours. The whole idea behind charter aviation is its safety and convenience. When you book a trip with a broker you sacrifice safety and compromise convenience. The only way to ensure you are getting the best service possible is by dealing directly with an owner/operator.
If you’re looking for quality service in the northeast please feel free to contact me on my direct line. (845) 248-8843 I work for Talon, we own and operate a vertically integrated fleet of 19 aircraft ranging from a Sikorsky helicopter to Gulfstream Heavy Jets. We are a member of Wyvern Wingman and are rated Argus Platinum. Our aircraft maintenance and technology are far above and beyond the scope of other operators. At Talon we will do anything that is safe and legal to ensure that your time traveling with us is an experience to remember.