Your Guide to Jetiquette – Flying Private with the Mile High Club

Jetiquette Private Plane

Forget the 1%. When you fly private, you’re dealing with the .0001%. It’s a whole different kind of mile high club, and not just anyone (with the ability to fit in tight places) can join. But if you’re lucky enough to be invited, which nowadays is sometimes the only way to get from Point A to Point B, think of it as an invitation to your host’s home in the sky. Jetiquette goes beyond not sticking your gum under the seat. And if your host is the boss? Well, then here’s the scoop on avoiding those career-limiting moves.

1.     Punctuality.

Unless you’re Tony Stark, don’t keep the plane, or your host, waiting. Expert Pilot David Zipkin is the owner of Tradewind Aviation, which regularly flies top CEOs. His experience? “If you’re not on time, be prepared to be left behind.” CEOs expect to take off as soon as they arrive. These are not the type of people who have any tolerance for waiting. You already have the luxury of bypassing security and keeping your shoes on. Late arrival is a major party foul.

2.     Celeb spotting ignoring.

Private planes don’t take off from the same terminal as commercial flights. You’re not even breathing the same air as the first-class riffraff when you charter a flight, so it shouldn’t surprise you to see celebs in the grown-ups’ boarding area. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. Nik Berger of Flight Airiness, a two-time Olympian who is used to being asked for autographs, advises not even to think about asking J.Lo for that selfie. Celebs may be gracious lest they end up on TMZ, but they’re flying private because the want to be left alone. For your part, play it cool as a cucumber.

3.     Boarding.

Unless you’re the BSD who owns the plane or chartered the flight, don’t even think about boarding before your host, who is referred to in technical private-plane speak as the “Lead Passenger.” Also, a word to the wise: Seats aren’t first come, first serve. This isn’t Southwest, you plebian. Your host (or boss) likely has a favorite seat, and you don’t want the awkward situation of being asked to move or, even worse, having the big guy or gal seethe in the jump seat at your poor manners on that cross-country flight.

4.     Pack light and dress smart. 

Depending on which airplane you are flying on and what the other passengers are bringing, luggage capacity may be limited.  Bring only what you need for the trip advises Jordan Goldberg, a Private Aviation Advisor with Glencoe Aviation in Los Angeles.  You’re not going to brunch in your pajamas.  Follow the lead of those you are flying with and whether it’s a business or personal trip.  Keep in mind you are boarding a $10-$50 million dollar machine with someone who likely paid $5,000 – $15,000 an hour for the privilege. 

5.     Be careful about posting on social media.

This is another important nugget from Jordan Goldberg, and relevant in today’s social media world.  Depending on the person, they might prefer confidentiality when flying.  For certain people, appearing on social media in a private plane can be received in different ways.  If taking pictures on the outside of the airplane, do so without getting the aircraft tail number in the shot, as it could indicate what company or what person’s airplane you are flying on.  Many would prefer to keep this information private.

6.     Wi-Fi. 

Yes, your host is a baller, but that doesn’t mean you want to run up a huge Wi-Fi bill thanks to your addiction to TikTok or Insta Stories. Absolutely use the Wi-Fi for necessary communications; however, know that your host is charged by the megabyte, so surfing the web, constantly checking Snapchat and downloading huge attachments will make a dent in any pocket, even a big one. Just be aware and be courteous.

7.     Good grub.

A nice host may send you the Nobu menu or arrange for your lobster thermidor prior to the flight. After all, it’s good to be king. However, if you haven’t discussed food, don’t reach for that filet mignon until after your host makes his or her selection. This is a private flight, and they often order limited quantities of meals. Like seating arrangements, take your boss’s lead to ensure you’re not overstepping your bounds.

8.     No drama.

There’s no room for going Charlie Sheen on a private plane, or having that embarrassing fight with your significant other when you’re a jet guest. Nik Berger reminds us that those who fly private do so to avoid all the drama of flying with the general population. If you have children, make sure to give them an Emily Post crash course in manners. Follow the lead of your host, and don’t take liberties.


And above all else, act like this isn’t your first rodeo. You will be excited to fly private the first time you get invited, and that excitement will remain, like a young kid’s at Christmas. While these rules of etiquette may seem strict, you’re flying private — and yes, you could get used to this. With our guide to jetiquette, you may even become a regular mile high club member.

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