If you're tired of getting the runaround from commercial airlines but not quite ready to buy a corporate jet, there's a way to use a private plane without paying a bundle. In much the same way you would buy a resort timeshare, you can now buy fractional ownership in an aircraft.
"Fractional ownership is a good way to start out and see what your needs are," says Cassandra Bosco of the National Business Aviation Association. Start with the NBAA Web site if you're looking to upgrade your air travel. Flexjet offers a fleet of Challenger, Continental and Learjet aircraft for timeshares starting at $4,500 a month. Flight Options lets you buy a share in a Citation, a BeechJet or seven other jets at rates comparable to Flexjet's.
Unless you fly often, fractional ownership may not make sense, because it generally requires a minimum one-year commitment. Charter flights are more expensive (a minimum of $1,000 per hour for a propjet to beyond $7,500 for a state-of-the-art jet, plus landing fees and crew costs), but Jim Christiansen, COO of TAG Aviation, which operates both charter and fractional-ownership flights, points out, "A charter is a finite commitment, so if you just have to make one trip, it may be the way to go."
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Clueless where to take a client for dinner? Your answer may be just a click away. Business travel site On The Road lists the best establishments in which to conduct business. Zagat gives you reader reviews of top restaurants.
Need to get a reservation? OpenTable offers free reservations for 1,500 restaurants in 22 cities. You must provide a credit card number for your first reservation. ISeatz also makes free reservations. Although it has fewer restaurants to choose from (500 in 28 cities), iSeatz gives you access to more tables and also features menus and restaurant images.
Christopher Elliott is a writer and commentator and the editor of www.elliott.org.