Compared to the endless gauntlet of indignities suffered by everyday commercial airline passengers, people who criss-cross the globe in private jets have it made: driving their cars right up to the plane, not having to take off their shoes during security checks, the ability to bring a small bottle of water onboard without sparking an international incident, better food (probably), etc.
But there's a slight problem: the astronomical cost of private jets puts that particular luxury out of reach for all but the most one percent-y of one percenters.
Luckily, the Internets have come to the rescue!
Some of the people behind the San Francisco-based town car service Uber have created BlackJet, a jet sharing service that connects people with empty seats in their private jets with people willing to pay to fill said seats.
"BlackJet is fairly friction-free...we bring back some of the elegance that has been lost in modern airports," founder Garrett Camp, who also founded both StumbleUpon and Uber, told VentureBeat. "You pull up to the airplane with your car and take off three minutes later. It takes a lot of the stress out of travel.”
"Tens of billions of dollars are wasted every year," he added, noting that one-third of all private jet flights are made with the aircraft almost completely empty. "The average charter plane is in the air one hour a day, while the average commercial plane is in the air 11 hours a day."
BlackJet's ultimate goal is to make hitching a ride on a private plane as easy as hailing a town car using Uber.
BlackJet doesn’t own any of the jets but instead helps travelers connect with charter services that fly between the aforementioned cities. Passengers give BlackJet two business days’ notice of when they want to fly. Then the company rounds up other passengers that are interested in the same trip and charters a plane for the group...Flights require some flexibility from travelers on when they want to leave, but the reward of a non-stop, hassle-free flight is worth it.
While BlackJet's mission is to democratize the world of private aviation, its backers are nothing short of A-list: actors Will Smith and Ashton Kutcher, 4-Hour Work Week author Tim Ferris and rapper Jay-Z.
Still, "democratize" is a relative term. A cross-country flight will set you back $3,500, not including the couple of thousand dollars users must pony up for the annual fee. Also, the service is still unavailable to the unwashed masses--personalized invite codes are required to gain access.
BlackJet started when it was spun off of another private jet company, Greenjets, which offered a similar service.
As All Things D reports, BlackJet will begin taking reservations on November 15 for flights between New York, Los Angeles and South Florida. Naturally, a mobile app is in the works.