JetSuiteX, an air service that offers short-distance flights out of private terminals, announced Tuesday morning that they will offer daily round-trip service between Seattle and Oakland, California, beginning July 1.
The new Seattle-to-Oakland route is the sixth regular route offered by JetSuiteX, which also offers flights from Las Vegas (LAS) in Nevada, and from Orange County (SNA), Concord/East Bay (CCR), Oakland (OAK) and Burbank (BUR), all in California. JetSuiteX also offers seasonal service to and from Coachella Valley/Thermal (TRM) and Mammoth (MMH), also in California.
According to the company’s news release, the air carrier can save passengers up to two hours by flying out of private jet terminals, where passengers can avoid security lines and only have to arrive 20 minutes before their scheduled departure times.
According to JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox, the market for domestic flights has been growing, but the market for flights between destinations less than 500 miles apart has shrunk.
“People are driving instead. Turns out people don’t want to spend 90 minutes in an airport for 45 minutes on an airplane. So, that’s our opportunity,” Wilcox said Tuesday at a media event at Boeing Field. “I think small is beautiful.”
Wilcox said that the shorter time on the ground does not sacrifice security measures. According to Wilcox, JetSuiteX is the only charter air carrier that participates in TSA’s Secure Flight Program, a system that vets passengers against a watchlist for domestic and international flights into, out of, and within the United States. So once a passenger checks in for a JetSuiteX flight, their name is vetted via TSA’s Secure Flight Program. Wilcox also disclosed that JetSuiteX passengers and bags will all be screened for explosives. The company is also testing new radar systems at some of its service locations.
JetSuiteX uses 30-seat Embraer 135 aircraft. According to a news release, the aircraft has 36 inches of legroom and no overhead bin storage. Passengers are allowed up to three pieces of complimentary checked baggage. On board, passengers will have access to Wi-Fi that supports in-flight messaging, but Wilcox said they plan to upgrade to 4G in the fall.
Flights from Seattle will depart from King County International Airport-Boeing Field (BFI) in South Seattle and arrive at Oakland International Airport (OAK). Passengers can book flights for July through August 31 via the JetSuiteX website starting today.
Nonrefundable tickets for the Seattle-Oakland service start at $99 one-way. Refundable tickets are available via the xPlus fare option, which also allows for reservation changes with no fee. Plus fares start at $369.
The idea for JetSuiteX was born out of the private jet service JetSuite, which Wilcox co-founded in 2008. When Wilcox noticed that many of their customers were chartering their 4-passenger private jet for short distance flights at $5,000 to $6,000 to save time and forego the hassles of flying through commercial airports, he saw an opportunity to “provide a private jet ground experience at a commercial price point.”
As for why they chose to launch the Seattle route, Wilcox cited the conveniences of Boeing Field’s location and Seattle’s reputation as a technology hub.
“It’s a booming tech economy,” said Wilcox. “You’ve got the biggest, fastest growing companies on the planet here. We call it the nerd bird, because you’ve got so many engineers here. Everyone flying from Northern California or Silicon Valley to here is an engineer, so we wanted to serve all the engineers and tech people whose time is very valuable.”
Wilcox said the company has plans to expand their aircraft fleet from 10 to 20 planes by the end of the year, and to 40 aircraft by the end of 2020. JetSuiteX will also be expanding their route network in Southern California and will launch service in a new region in 2020. The new locations have not yet been decided, but Wilcox said they will likely be somewhere in the middle of the country or the East Coast.
“We love airports like [Boeing Field] that are convenient to downtown, no airline hassles, no major airport hassles,” Wilcox said. “Just a faster, easier way to go.”