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What is a charter broker and do I need one?

A charter broker is a specialist travel agent who will find the most suitable aircraft at the best price for the client’s trip, and will ensure the smooth running of the charter from first point of contact to landing, and even onward transfer and accommodation. The broker acts as intermediary between client and aircraft operator, and will source everything and deal with all the detail, meaning the client doesn’t have to. For this an agreed commission is levied within the charter price.

A charter broker represents the interests of the client and deals directly with operators and other trip service providers to manage competitive quotes, contingency planning and the organisation of trip logistics.

What does a broker do?

  • identifies the client’s individual flight requirements
  • researches aircraft options anywhere in the world via a worldwide network of operators
  • presents options for the client to consider such as cabin size, extra storage, number of stops en route
  • achieves competitive quotes from operators who face competition from fellow aircraft suppliers
  • checks each aircraft passes all industry regulations and ARGUS or Wyvern third party audits for safety standards
  • reviews operator safety records and certifications
  • is usually available 24/7
  • helps you make an informed decision

How to choose the best broker for you

A charter broker does not own or operate aircraft but makes the arrangements between client and the aircraft operator.

There are many types of broker, from small, boutique brokerage to large broking companies with offices worldwide. But all have access to the same vast fleet of aircraft. As well as the traditional telephone approach, brokers can also use online platforms which consolidate data from any number of operators anywhere, and which give real-time information on the availability and position of thousands of business aircraft around the globe.

Brokers do not need any professional license, but it is possible for them to submit to third party audits which prove compliance with industry best practices and requirements. The ARGUS Charter Broker Program confirms that a charter broker is a legitimate business entity, understands and adheres to industry best practices, and is committed to the utmost in safety and service-oriented charter operations. It is endorsed by BACA - the Air Charter Association.

How does a broker find the best aircraft for the client?

Once the broker knows the type of aircraft needed and the point of departure, they will look at the availability of those aircraft nearest that airport that meet the clients’ requirements. It may need to be wi-fi enabled, suitable for grass landing strips, have large internally-accessed storage, or a toilet. These are all details that the broker will factor in to the search if required.

Should you use a broker or go directly to the operator?

There is value in either approach, depending on the circumstances and characteristics of each trip. But because brokers do not own their own aircraft they are not limited by fleet availability; they have a whole world of aircraft to draw on. This is particularly useful when organising last minute travel, or if a chartered aircraft needs to be replaced due to mechanical issues.

A broker should have good knowledge of both industry and aircraft so can get the best price, good service and ensure safety standards are high. It may take time to achieve a quote as once a request is submitted, the operators must then calculate their responses. But the prices should be more favourable than that achieved by the individual client as brokers are doing steady, repeat business on behalf of a customer base, with a number of operators, and these elements of volume and competition should be reflected in lower prices. And although broker commissions are applied, they tend not to lift the price by much as profit margins are quite low.

There are many aspects to a charter flight and brokers can handle all of them, particularly if they have their own flight support departments. Not only do they match passenger to aircraft, they can obtain copies of FAA flight certificates, insurance and aircraft documentation; arrange backup aircraft where necessary; review operator flight manifests for FBOs; confirm departure and arrival times; manage catering, ground transportation, hotels and overnight arrangements for the aircraft and crew, and so on. Generally they are well placed to track the flight, update on any changes and ensure the smooth running of the charter.


Questions to ask

  • How far in advance do I need to book?
  • Will you arrange more than just the flight - food, limo, hotel?
  • What costs are included in the quote?
  • Could there be any 'unforeseen' costs?
  • How do I know the aircraft is safe/the pilot is good/the crew are rested?
  • Do I need an empty leg?
  • Can I use an app (apps/set sharing/jet card/membership programmes)?
  • Cash, or credit card, how do I pay?
  • Will my skis fit inside?
  • Can I get into my luggage during the flight?
  • Is there a toilet onboard?
  • Can I bring my pet onboard?
  • How early do I need to be at the airport?
  • Will there be somewhere comfortable to wait?
  • Do I need to check-in my luggage?
  • Can I choose my own menu?
  • Can I watch a video during the flight?
  • What happens when I land?
  • Should I tip the pilot and cabin crew?
  • Will I feel jet lagged?
  • How close to my destination can I land?
  • Can I get onward transportation?