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Private jet classifications and capabilities


5th June 2023

private jet classification vip

Thinking of chartering a private jet? You’ve come to the right place…Chartering an aircraft for private air travel has become more affordable and accessible than ever, particularly for group air charters.

In fact, since the global pandemic, the popularity of private air travel has continued to grow across multiple sectors including business, sport, music, entertainment, and culture.

Privacy, time savings, and unparalleled comfort are just some of the perks of flying private. Cozy sleeping areas, contemporary showers, meeting spaces, in-flight entertainment, and fine dining, are also major attractions.

Which aircraft to charter?

vip jet travel on runway

Whether you’re still looking into the benefits of private air charter vs. commercial flights, or identifying the perfect destination, once you’re ready to book, you’ll need to select an aircraft.

Air charter brokers have access to thousands of aircraft, as unlike private tour operators, they aren’t bound to their own fleet of aircraft. Instead, air charter brokers have a network of aircraft owners and operators that they work with to provide an aircraft tailored to your own unique specifications.

Key considerations for aircraft charter

business aviation couple private jet

Before delving into aircraft options, first, establish what your requirements are and categorize these into mandatories, nice-to-haves, and luxuries.

  • Travel distance & range requirements: The range of an aircraft is a critical factor in determining its suitability for your needs. It’s important to consider the typical distances you will be flying and the number of passengers you need to accommodate.
  • Passenger capacity: Private jet aircraft come in various sizes and capacities, so it’s essential to determine how many passengers you need to accommodate and what kind of baggage and cargo you’ll be carrying.
  • Operating costs: These can vary significantly between different aircraft types. Fuel consumption, maintenance, staff, and insurance costs should all be considered before making a final decision.
  • Performance: Factors, such as speed, altitude, and runway requirements can also influence your choice of aircraft. The performance of the aircraft must be in line with your specific needs, regarding timings and airport size.
  • Cabin amenities: Seating configurations, in-flight entertainment, and Wi-Fi connectivity can all make a significant difference in the comfort and convenience of your private jet experience, depending on what your plans are onboard.
  • Safety & reliability: Safety is naturally a crucial consideration when choosing a private jet. It’s essential to ensure that the aircraft you select meets all regulatory requirements and has a good safety record.

Finally, having a budget in mind is also going to be a key factor when it comes to aircraft selection. Once you have an idea of your key mandatory requirements, an air charter broker will help you advise on the best value for money, where you might be able to make savings or make your budget stretch a bit further.

Our private aircraft guide

If you’re new to the world of private air travel, or you’re just keen to learn more, this guide will take you on a journey exploring the different private jet classes available, as well as their core capabilities and features.

Ready for take-off? Buckle in and let’s go!

Very Light Jets (VLJs)

very light jet embraer in flight

Vital stats

  • Passengers: 4-7
  • Range: Approximately 1,000 miles
  • Speed: 400mph
  • Luggage: Moderate capacity

First up is the very light jet category or VLJs as they’re known in the industry. These aircraft are a relatively new and exciting addition to private aviation, and they primarily offer an alternative to piston and turboprop aircraft that are small and quite noisy inside.

Although they’re often referred to as entry-level jets, this is not a measure of their popularity or quality as passenger aircraft or the level of comfort and luxury that they provide. In the main part, VLJs are cheaper to run and maintain than their standard light jet counterparts, and while they can’t manage the range that lights jets offer, they can sometimes match them in speed with the added benefit of being able to land on shorter runways at smaller airports.

Within the VLJ category are aircraft that offer a combination between the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of turboprop aircraft, but with the amenities and performance of a light jet. As VLJs are smaller, that does mean that you won’t have access to certain features that you might have on a light jet, such as toilet facilities or the ability to accommodate a flight attendant.

The major benefit of the very light jet class is that they provide flights into areas ignored by most commercial airlines (a benefit of being able to land on short runways) and they will cover distances of 1,000-1,200 nautical miles while carrying up to five passengers and a moderate baggage allocation.

Popular choices

  • Embraer Phenom 100
  • HondaJet HA-420
  • Cessna Citation M2
  • Eclipse 550

Light & Super Light Jets

citation xls super light jet in flight

Vital stats

  • Passengers: 6-8
  • Range: Approximately 2,500 miles
  • Speed: 500mph
  • Luggage: Moderate capacity

If you’re traveling further than city-to-city or need to accommodate more passengers, upgrading from VLRs is the next likely option as you look to upsize to a more standard private jet aircraft.

Most light jets won’t typically be able to crew a flight attendant, but they will be able to seat up to eight passengers and most will come with toilet facilities on board. Despite their size, light jets can travel ranges of 1,400-2,500 miles, and some can reach cruise speeds of over 500mph.

While the light jet offers impressive stats for its size, there is another class of light jet that pushes those numbers slightly further. The super-light jet is simply a step up from the light jet in terms of range, size, and comfort, at a fraction more of the cost. With a more spacious cabin and luggage compartment, super light jets can accommodate an average of eight passengers in guaranteed comfort.

Though larger in size, super light jets can easily navigate short runways at private airstrips and small airports, so travelers who want to avoid the crowds at major airports can have alternative options for departure and arrival.

Popular choices


  • Embraer Phenom 300
  • Cessna Citation CJ4
  • Bombardier Learjet 75 Liberty
  • Pilatus PC-24

Super light

  • Gulfstream G100
  • Embraer Phenom 300
  • Citation XLS

 Midsize Jets

embrear preator 500 in flight midsized jet

Vital stats

  • Passengers: 7-9
  • Range: Approximately 5,000 miles
  • Speed: 500mph
  • Luggage: Large capacity

If a light aircraft doesn’t have the range or capacity to accommodate your traveling party, or if you’re simply looking for a more luxurious option that still offers comfort and value, then a mid-size jet might be the choice for you.

Mid-size private jets are the optimum choice for travelers who require longer flight capacity. With an average range of 2,200 nautical miles – or around five hours of non-stop travel – mid-size jets can easily manage short-haul and long-haul flights, ensuring transcontinental capacity.

The mid-size jets offer more comfort and amenities than light and even super light jets, such as ample luggage compartments, fold-out divans, an onboard lavatory, and cabins with full-height standing capacity.

Mid-size jets generally have enough room for two pilots, a flight attendant, a service galley, and an onboard lavatory, while some can even be outfitted with an enclosed shower. Equipped with Wi-Fi and phone capabilities, mid-size jets are perfect for those who prefer to stay connected and productive during flights. Mid-size private jets can still use smaller airports and are more cost-efficient to operate in comparison with heavy jets.

Popular choices

  • Bombardier Learjet 60XR
  • Cessna Citation XLS+
  • Gulfstream G280
  • Embraer Praetor 500

Super Midsize Jets

bombardir challenger private jet during take off

  • Passengers: 8-12
  • Range: Approximately 5,000 miles
  • Speed: 500mph
  • Luggage: Large capacity

Super-mid-size jets share a lot of traits with larger heavy jets. They boast a superior range, size, and some added features compared to most standard mid-size jets but are about as cost-efficient.

Features that are included as part of the step up from the standard mid-size jet are a more spacious cabin, and improved avionics for a quieter and more comfortable flight overall. The super mid-size cabin jet class can fly up to seven hours, covering an average of 3,500 miles, so if you’re a busy executive that needs to be somewhere in quickly, then this is your ideal private jet charter solution.

Popular choices

  • Bombardier Challenger 350
  • Cessna Citation Sovereign+
  • Gulfstream G200
  • Embraer Praetor 600

Large / Heavy Jets

g500 gulfstream large heavy jet on runaway business aviation

  • Passengers: 9-19
  • Range: Approximately 5,500 miles
  • Speed: 530mph
  • Luggage: Large capacity

Large or ‘heavy’ jets are incredibly luxurious with full-standing cabins and plentiful space for passengers and luggage. These aircraft are closer to what travelers typically expect from the experience of flying private, with amenities such as large comfortable chairs, enclosed bathrooms, flat beds, premium entertainment facilities, a phone, Wi-Fi, and a full galley as standard. You’ll also have the option of crewing a flight attendant or two to manage full in-flight catering or any other requirements you have.

Heavy jets form part of the ‘king-size’ category of private aircraft and can travel much further than most mid-size jets with the ability to carry more passengers. Some heavy jets might sacrifice some range for increased comfort and quality of flight, but on the plus side can carry 17 passengers and travel distances up to 5,500 nautical miles. Cruising speed is approximately 530mph, which is only slightly above the speed of a super-mid-size jet, but you’ll benefit from a much quieter cabin, providing exceptional comfort to passengers.

Popular choices

  • Dassault Falcon 900LX
  • Bombardier Challenger 650
  • Gulfstream G500
  • Cessna Citation Longitude

Ultra-Long-Range Jets

dassault falcon 8x private jet charter

  • Passengers: 12-19
  • Range: Approximately 7,000 miles
  • Speed: 500mph
  • Luggage: Large capacity

If you’re looking to go one step further than heavy jets, then the ultra-long-range heavy jet class is worth considering. Renowned for offering the best in private travel, ultra-long-range jets provide generous cabin space with different areas dedicated to dining, work, entertainment, and relaxation.

Complete with enclosed bathrooms, lie-flat beds, a full-service galley, and a roomy luggage area, this segment of private jets is designed to offer the highest levels of comfort and extravagance for the most discerning travelers.

With lavishly appointed interiors and ultramodern amenities, these jets ensure a relaxing and enjoyable trip, comfortably accommodating up to 19 passengers. Capable of flying distances of 6,000 to 6,500 nautical miles, ultra-long-range jets are the optimum choice for long-haul travel.

Popular choices

  • Gulfstream G700
  • Bombardier Global 7500
  • Dassault Falcon 8X
  • Gulfstream G650ER

Executive Liners / Bizliners

private jet bbj boieng business jet on runway

  • Passengers: 19-48 (layout dependent)
  • Range: Approximately 7,000 miles
  • Speed: 550mph
  • Luggage: Large capacity

Now for the crème de la crème category. Often referred to as bizliners, executive airliners are usually commercial airline aircraft that have been converted into luxury apartments with wings. These jets have about the same range and speed capabilities as most other heavy and ultra-long-range jets but boast incredibly luxurious and extravagant features, plus interior layouts and designs incomparable to any other kind of aircraft.

From opulent and bespoke interiors to spacious private suites, ensuite showers, and onboard cocktail lounges, this aircraft class takes elite travel to a whole new level. Even with all these exclusive amenities, bizliners offer plenty of space for dining areas, conference rooms, overhead storage compartments, walk-in cupboards, and full-service galleys, manned by flight attendants.

As these private jets can navigate higher altitudes, they can operate in most weather conditions and cover great distances, making them the ideal choice for intercontinental flights or trips that last up to 10 hours or more without a stopover.

Popular choices

  • Airbus ACJ-380
  • Airbus ACJ-319
  • Boeing B747-8
  • Boeing BBJ

Making a final decision

We’ve taken the whistle-stop tour of the private jet categories available and there’s a lot to take in! As we have already discussed, the benefits of choosing a particular private jet category depend on your specific needs and requirements.

Smaller jets are more affordable and suitable for shorter trips, while larger jets offer greater range and comfort for longer flights. The right category will depend on factors such as the number of passengers, the distance to be traveled, and the budget available.

Here’s a short summary to recap the key points:

  1. Very Light Jets (VLJs): The smallest private jets available, typically seating up to 7 passengers. They are ideal for short trips and are more affordable than larger jets. VLJs can also operate from shorter runways, making them suitable for smaller airports.
  2. Light & super light jets: These jets can seat up to 8 passengers and offer better performance and range than VLJs. They are ideal for short to medium-range trips and are often used for business travel.
  3. Mid-Size Jets: Larger than light jets, seating up to 9 passengers, they offer a greater range and can fly nonstop for up to six hours. They are often used for longer business trips or for family vacations.
  4. Super Mid-Size Jets: These jets offer greater comfort and range than mid-size jets, seating up to 12 passengers. They can fly nonstop for up to eight hours, making them ideal for transcontinental flights.
  5. Large / Heavy Jets: Large cabin jets can seat up to 19 passengers and offer the highest levels of comfort and luxury. They are ideal for long-range flights and are often used for private, family, or corporate travel.
  6. Ultra-Long-Range Jets: These are the largest private jets commonly available, with seating for up to 19 passengers. They offer the greatest range and can fly nonstop for up to 16 hours, making them ideal for transcontinental or intercontinental flights.
  7. Executive Liners / Bizliners: specialized private jets that are designed and customized to provide the utmost luxury and comfort for long-range travel. They are essentially commercial airliners that have been converted into private jets, with a focus on providing a more luxurious and exclusive experience for passengers.

Crunching the numbers

Renting a private aircraft is more complex than renting any other type of vehicle as there are several costs you might not be aware of. The most expensive single item in aircraft charter is the cost of fuel which is represented as the hourly rate required for chartering a private aircraft.

To start the process, charter companies / brokers will need some basic information such as how many people are flying, the time and date of your desired departure, your destination, and when you intend to return.

They will then be able to do calculations on landing fees, fuel costs, crew fees, and other items to give an accurate a quote as possible.

An aerodynamic experience

Whether you’re planning a solo trip or a group event, flying privately will give you access to a much more enjoyable flight experience. No matter what your priorities are, the flexibility, customization, and personal services on offer will enhance the process from the planning process to arriving at your destination.

Have some questions?

Get in touch with the dedicated private air charter team at Chapman Freeborn and we’ll be happy to talk you through the process and any finer details.


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