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Fancy flying to your next vacay on a private jet? Here’s how to make the dream a reality… (no, we’re not joking)

TailHail is all about making private flights accessible to everyone. We caught up with Founder and CEO James Moon to get the lowdown (or should it be ‘high up’…?)

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 28.04.2021

We’ve all hailed a cab or two in our time. We’ve hailed a bus to pull in at our stop. But what if we told you that you could essentially do the same with a private jet? Nope, we’re not joking.

We can all agree on the stereotypes that surround private flying – celebrity following, expensive business suits, millionaire status. But not anymore. Because TailHail has made it their mission to make flying privately more democratic, more accessible, more… well, us.

Now if you think like we do, we know exactly where your mind goes to first: sustainability. Sure, getting A-List travel for a fraction of the price is only ever going to pique our interest, but not if it means more flights in the air, more carbon emissions and more damage to our planet.

But with a lot of TailHail’s fleet powered by sustainable aviation fuel, not to mention the revenue being poured into the industry right now for the design of new electric aircraft, it seems TailHail’s green credentials are checking out. And that’s before we even delve into their flight share options.

Safety is another top concern. Unfortunately, we’ve heard of a few too many private charters going tragically wrong in the last few years. But it seems there’s no need to sweat it on this front either – with TailHail, the only aircraft you can ever fly on will be part of their fleet of safety-vetted and approved charter aircraft, having already passed a rigorous approval process with, erm, flying colours.

Guys, we get it – it all sounds too good to be true. We were with you. That’s why we sat down with TailHail Founder and CEO James Moon to ask him every question under the sun in a bid to uncover the cloud to go with all of these silver linings. Turns out, it really is a clear-sky forecast for the future of flying. Now, where did we leave our passports…

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Ok James, how accessible is flying privately with TailHail?

We’re on a mission to make private flying more accessible, affordable and sustainable, and we’re doing that through our technology. One of the problems that our sector has is that it doesn’t utilise technology enough. So one way we’re making private flying cheaper is through shared flights. Say you and Laura are going to an event in Dublin and there are four spare seats on the aircraft. You know a client of yours has also been invited to the same event, so you could then speak to them via our platform and share the flight cost.

We also utilise technology from an ‘empty leg’ perspective. This is when an aircraft flies to a certain destination with passengers, but then flies empty on the way back. If you can get on board that return flight, it’s cheaper. At the moment, the only way you can do that is by trailing through a big database of all of the outgoing flights and looking into each and every one to see if it’s empty. It’s very old-school.

What we’re doing through our platform is make that search element geo-locating – so if you’re in Newcastle, you’ll be able to see which empty-leg flights are flying from Newcastle Airport around a certain date. Those flights are in the air anyway, so from a sustainability element it’s not putting another plane up there, and they really help bring the cost down massively.

All this means that flying privately really isn’t just for the millionaires out there anymore – there are the right flights for the right price for everyone, and our technology can help you find them.

What’s the difference between a shared private flight with TailHail and a ‘normal’ shared flight?

One of the great features about flying privately is that you can avoid the airport terminals. It takes something like 15 minutes from when you park your car at the airport to boarding a private jet. You still go through security but your bags are taken to the plane manually.

Another benefit is that you can access airports which aren’t a city’s ‘main’ airport. So if you were flying to New York, you could fly to Teterboro instead of JFK and save yourself from being caught up in the big immigration queues. It’s way more direct, so you’re saving a lot more time.

 

But the big thing about flying privately is that it’s much more of an experience. I organised a flight last year for a business which wanted to fly 60 people out, and the flight itself was going to work out cheaper than EasyJet for that number of people. On top of the great price, they were each getting their own meals, drinking Champagne, a lot of our aircraft have Wi-Fi onboard so they had access to that, and they could choose their exact flight times so that the schedule suited them.

We need to be more environmentally conscious now than ever before. Wouldn’t flying privately be opposed to that?

Aviation is actually one of the best industries for addressing sustainability head-on. Global aviation emissions only count for around 2%–3% of our planet’s total emissions, but the money being poured into the sector in terms of designing new electric aircraft is phenomenal, so we’re actually way further ahead than other sectors in terms of innovation. A lot of aircraft now are powered by sustainable aviation fuel too, which is huge for the industry.

A great thing about flying with TailHail is that you can choose to fly on an aircraft that’s powered by sustainable fuel, or to fly on the newest and most efficient aircraft we have available. So you can be sustainability-conscious. And we’re going to constantly evolve with that and keep speaking with our customers to see what other measures we can introduce going forward. We really want to be a market leader for sustainable private flying.

 

If we wanted to book a flight right now, what would we do?

You’ve got two options. You can easily go onto our website: there’s a little box where you can enter your departure airport, arrival airport, the number of people you’re booking for, the dates and submit the form. We receive that form and we’ll get back to you with flight details.

The other option is to become a member. We’ve got four different membership options, and they all reduce the upfront cost of flying privately. Traditionally when you fly privately, you’d have to buy a share in an aircraft, (which is around £200,000 a year) or a Jet Card, which is between £25,000–£50,000 a year. That’s a lot of money! We’ve introduced this membership model to give people access to our platform. They can submit their flight requests onto our platform and they’ll go straight to our approved aircraft and flight operators, who then get back in touch with our members directly.

 

You mentioned ‘approved aircraft’ there. What do you mean by that?

There have been some high-profile crashes over the last few years – Kobe Bryant, Emiliano Sala – and they were victims of illegal charter aircraft that weren’t certified for those flight conditions. Every aircraft on our system has to be approved, and we ask them to upload all of their documents to the platform so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re certified correctly. Safety is (and should be) a big deal and we take it very seriously.

Are there any more benefits to becoming a TailHail member?

Yes, our partnerships! We’ve forged partnerships with the likes of FoundersCard and Plum Guide, who specialise in luxury villas. What we’re doing with them is creating a door-to-door service: so you leave your house in the UK, board a private flight and go straight to their luxury villa. We’re really focused on making the whole process COVID-secure, too.

We’ve also partnered with some resorts – there’s one in Thailand, another in the Maldives, one in Florida, one in the Bahamas – to really give our members some perks to enjoy, which a lot of our competitors don’t have. We have links with a chocolate company and a gin company too, so we’re focused on creating this whole community of like-minded people. Once COVID subsides, we’ll also do membership events and tie those in with sporting events as well. So you get a lot for your money!

Let’s talk about your four membership options then. How would you describe the Takeoff membership?

Takeoff is for one person. It’s really for clients who may not travel that much and are going to be paying for their own flight separately to others in their party – so they may be going on a girls’ holiday, for example, or are looking for shared flights. For £495 a year, this membership gives them access to our platform and all of those membership perks.

Then the Aviator membership is for more frequent flyers?

Yes, the Aviator’s designed for couples really – so one membership (for £1,995 a year) covers two people, which is great for anyone who travels a lot.

Got it. So how does that differ to the Altitude membership?

The Altitude membership is designed for families. One membership (for £9,995 a year) covers eight people. That membership puts us in a league of our own because it really gives our customers a lot of flexibility.

And then you’ve got a Business membership too?

Yes, so with Takeoff, Altitude and Aviator you can only book flights for the person or people registered on that membership account.

With the Business membership, it’s unlimited – so if they’re a Fortune 500 company or a huge PLC, they don’t have to keep buying loads of memberships, (which is the way it currently is with a lot of our competitors).

 

We’ve heard your Takeoff membership is free to sign up to at the moment, is that right?

Yes! With everything going on in the world, we decided to offer our Takeoff membership free of charge. We’re hoping it will give us the chance to introduce ourselves to people, let them see what we’re all about, maybe debunk a few myths about flying privately and get them interested in using our platform long-term.

It’s a strange world we’re living in right now – we still don’t know where or when we can go abroad – so it felt right. We have capped those free memberships at 1,000, but there are still some left! And that will last for two years.

You mentioned the limitations on international travel. What have TailHail been busy with during lockdown?

Over the last nine months, we’ve been focused on getting all the tech in place and building our brand partners – we’re up to 40 now. Some of them are global companies which promise to further improve our members’ experience. Because we know that, one day, the world will go back to normal.

We still get a lot of requests for flying privately, particularly from businesses. It’s a tough one. Some of them we don’t proceed with because we don’t want to give customers the wrong advice in terms of what we’re allowed to do. As an industry, we have to be aware of the role we played in initially spreading COVID. So although everyone desperately wants to fly again, we need to be cautious going forward.

How last-minute can we book a flight?

One of the things we offer is a private aviation advisor. It’s quite old school, but a lot of the members can email into us and we message back and forth. It’s especially useful if they’re not quite sure whether to submit their flight request or not. We can have that dialogue and know that, as soon as they get the all-clear that they’re allowed to travel to a certain destination, for example, we can book the flight in for them. So we can sort out pretty fast turnarounds.

TailHail also have a sporting-based initiative, Hailing The Next Generation – could you tell us more about that?

We keep getting approached by sporting teams, young sporting professionals and athletes looking for sponsors, particularly in golfing. We found, especially in the US, that a lot of the young golfers were travelling a lot, quite often on shared flights. So we really wanted to give free memberships to those young sporting talents.

You’ve talked about flying options for friends and family – what about for our pets?!

Yeah, that’s another huge advantage of flying privately – you can take animals on board. We quite often have Labradors taking over the seats on a jet! Obviously, it’s all subject to having the right dog passports and things, but it’s all good with us.

Where will be the first place you jet off to, when we’re allowed again?

My favourite place in the world is Naples, Florida. It’s gorgeous – it’s quiet, it’s got lovely beaches, it’s just such a cool place. It’s almost like a hidden gem, it’s not touristy at all.

You know us – we’re all about living the High Life – so we’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on TailHail in the future. If you fancy doing the same, head over to their website, Facebook page or Instagram to find out more 

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