Best for luxury: Wheels Up
Wheels Up allows travelers to book private charter flights at an all-inclusive hourly rate. Founded in 2013 and a publicly traded company as of July 2021, Wheels Up is one of the major players in private aviation, having acquired many others along the way.
Originally a membership-only model, the company now allows anyone to book available flights on-demand using the app. There are 1,500 planes in the fleet, including the King Air 350i (an eight-seater propeller jet), the Cessna Citation Excel/XLS in the middle category (with a four-hour range), and the ultra-fast and high-flying Cessna Citation X, with a large, posh cabin. It can fly over six hours nonstop.
I got to try out two of these on a company-sponsored trip between Los Angeles and Napa. With seven to 10 seats in each aircraft (compared with, say, 30 for JSX or up to 19 on Set Jet), Wheels Up offers a truly elite private jet experience. When I flew the Citation X, the cabin had eight luxurious leather seats and even a posh leather-covered loo. Snacks and beverages were available on-demand in a small lounge area, and the ride was smooth, quiet, and peaceful.
Wheels Up members also receive benefits at Wine Access, Waldorf Astoria hotels; pay-by-the-seat shuttle service from Westchester to Nantucket through Nantucket Shuttle Service; AmEx membership discounts; and many other perks and benefits.