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How To: Safely book a private flight and ensure you avoid illegal charters

Glenn Hogben, CEO at The Air Charter Association, offers some important guidance to ensure that you book a private flight safely and legally…

Arranging business jet travel for the first time may seem like a daunting experience for many. But, providing you follow guidance, it is simple and provides a secure and seamless experience for your team. While the benefits of private flying are significant, it is important to be aware of how to book a flight safely and avoid inadvertently chartering illegally, by booking an aircraft that adheres to the strict regulations set by the industry’s governing bodies. 

Use accredited members of The ACA to book and operate your flight

Arranging a private flight requires extensive knowledge to locate the most suitable, cost-effective, safe and legal solution. You can book your flight through an accredited broker or directly with an accredited operator member of The ACA, to ensure that you’ll be working with a company which upholds the association’s highest standards and Code of Conduct. 

Discuss the requirements with an accredited charter broker 

To plan the journey and minimise time spent at the airport, you or your charter broker will need to provide the operator with a range of information, starting with the point of origin, destination city or airport and passenger details. Your broker will be able to ensure you can fly into the most suitable airport for your ultimate destination and that the journey is as seamless as possible. 

Check the operator’s licences – Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and Certificate of Air Worthiness – and insurance 

If you are booking with an accredited charter broker, these checks will be completed for you. However, if not, make sure the operator of the flight holds an AOC, the approval granted by a national aviation authority to use aircraft for commercial purposes.

Is your pilot correctly qualified?

When the pilots are provided by the certified operator (if booking through a charter broker, they will be able to confirm this is the case) they will have stringent training and qualifications required by the aviation authorities for the specific aircraft. Be extremely cautious about arrangements where pilots are provided separately to the aircraft. In these circumstances professional advice should always be sought to check qualifications are current and apply to the aircraft being used.

Trust your instincts

Almost anyone can put together a convincing website or app these days. However, an impressive online presence does not necessarily mean that the operator is legitimate. And, if you are in a hurry to get a flight booked, it is easy to book with operators whose websites make credible-sounding claims – but then fail to do proper due diligence against fraud. Please always be on your guard and verify bank details on the telephone before making new payment transfers to ensure communications haven’t been intercepted and bank details changed.

There are many increased risks of flying on an illegal charter as not only will it likely void the operator’s insurance cover but it could also invalidate the passenger’s life assurance. 

If in doubt, please get in touch and to find an accredited member visit our website