There’s nothing like heading home for the holidays: the warm embraces, happy reunions, treasured traditions … long TSA lines, delayed flights, baggage fees. Why not keep the fun and forgo the hassle by taking a charter flight from the East Bay directly to your destination?
Charter flights offer lightning-fast security checks, boarding, and deplaning, and no extra fees for assigned seats or baggage. Here are a few options that fly out of local airports.
Charter company: JSX
Local airports served: Concord (Buchanan Field) and Oakland
Available seats per plane: 30
Benefits: Easy parking, ample legroom, and free snacks and drinks (yes, even the cocktails).
Where they fly: From Concord to Burbank, with connections to Phoenix; from Oakland to Las Vegas, Burbank, Orange County, and Seattle.
Cost: Starting at $79 one way, with occasional eye-popping specials ($49 to Phoenix!).
To book: jsx.com.
Charter company: Premiere Aviation
Local airports served: Concord, Hayward, Livermore, and Oakland
Available seats per plane: 7
Benefit: Fastest way to get to smaller airports for a customized group or family adventure.
Where they fly: You choose, but typically anywhere the plane can go on one tank of gas.
Cost: $600 per hour, plus fuel and pilot fees. For instance, get to Truckee in 42 minutes with up to seven passengers for roughly $1,750 total, round-trip.
To book: Call (925) 788-9010 or email email@example.com.
Charter company: SurfAir
Local airport served: Oakland
Available seats per plane: 8
Benefits: Book a scheduled flight minutes before departure, and seats are all window and aisle.
Where they fly: Burbank, Santa Barbara, Truckee.
Cost: Membership required (starting at $2,500 per year). Flight costs and accessibility depend on your membership level.
To book: Visit surfair.com to join, then book via the SurfAir app or website.
Chart Your Own Course
Can’t find a charter flight to match your needs? Try a private-plane booking service.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could hail a flight just like an Uber or Lyft? Voilà! Introducing BlackBird. This booking company’s app helps you find an available seat on a charter leaving from Concord or Oakland. Destinations include a variety of West Coast airports, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Seattle. And prices can be very competitive: as low as $59 one way to Las Vegas and $79 to Phoenix or Seattle, though you’ll pay more for holidays and weekends. Planes fit four to nine passengers. To see what they offer, download the BlackBird app, or go to flyblackbird.com.
No Planes, but Trains and Automobiles
If you’re tired of the same old airplane routine, use one of these alternative means of transport and enjoy the journey.
Train: Amtrak offers comfortable and scenic routes from stations in Martinez, Emeryville, and Oakland. Consider the Coast Starlight route, which goes north to Seattle in about 22 hours, or south to Los Angeles in roughly 13, with many convenient stops along the way. Or mosey to the Midwest on the California Zephyr (last stop: Chicago—a little over two days away) via Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa. Trains have sleeper cars available, as well as a full-service dining car, children’s play area, and a sightseer lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows for optimal viewing. amtrak.com.
Ride-sharing: Go green and save some green (money, that is) using a long-distance ride-sharing app like Rdvouz or Ridesharing. Similar to Uber, you plug in your desired destination and see who might be able to either give you a ride or ride along with you to help pay for your gas. Just realize you’ll have to do your own vetting of the driver or passenger through their public profiles and some back-and-forth messaging to ensure your safety. rdvouz.com, ridesharing.com.