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Spread Your Wings & Discover Luxury

Private Jet Travel Makes Holiday Trips A Breeze—And It's More Affordable Than You Think

Article by Heide Brandes

Photography by Provided

Originally published in OKC City Lifestyle

Jim Hensley was sitting in a hunting lodge in South Dakota working as his clients braved the winter weather for their annual pheasant hunt.

Each year, Jim flies this group of friends to the north for the hunt. The next week, he had several flights to Dallas lined up. On another weekend, he flew a couple from Oklahoma City to Louisiana so they could catch their daughter's soccer match.

For each of the clients he flew, convenience was more important than cost. As owner of American Jet Charter of Oklahoma City, Jim knows that less time hassling around in an airport means more quality time spent on travel, with family or on business.

"We are an on-demand aircraft charter," he says. "We have six airplanes, soon to be seven. Most of our planes seat nine people or less, but the new added airplane will seat up to 12 people."

As holiday travel heats up, booking a private plane may be best Christmas present to yourself or for loved ones. Although more expensive than traditional commercial air flights, the luxury, ease and convenience is worth every extra penny.

The Fleet

American Jet Charter started in 1986 after the oil bust in Oklahoma. Jim had worked for another aircraft company, but the bust put that company out of business.

"We started this company, but we did struggle through the lean years," he says. "But we constantly grew. Now, 34 years later, we are still adding aircraft."

American Jet Charter's simplest and most affordable plane is the Beechcraft Baron 58. This light, twin-engine piston aircraft comfortably seats a few passengers and is a relatively inexpensive option for small groups wanting to fly within the five-state area around Oklahoma.

The King Air Turbo Prop seats up to seven and primarily flies within a 500- to 600-mile radius from Oklahoma City. The Citation Bravo seats up to eight people and is primarily used within a 1,000-mile radius.

The next plane up is the Citation Encore, which is similar to the Encore, but extends a little longer. Seating eight comfortably, this plane features a club seating configuration.

The Citation VII seats nine people with five identical seats, one aft-facing seat and a couch, as well as an enclosed lavatory. 

American Jet Charter added the Challenger 350 jet in 2019, which also seats nine.

"This jet has a very large, stand-up cabin," Jim says.

The newest jet is the Challenger 604, which seats 12. The jet boasts of a wide body that allows even the tallest of passengers to stand. With nine chairs and couch seating, it's American Jet Charter's largest plane yet.

"For a person who wants to book private air travel for vacation, you have to be able to have that extra money to spend, so it's a luxury," Jim says. "For the business person trying to do multiple destinations in one day and still get back home, the time savings and the ability to hit multiple locations in one day is worth it in terms of convenience and savings on productivity. Booking private jet charter for a business can save time, money and productivity."

Not having to wait in airports or go through crazy security lines is another advantage of booking a private flight. In some cases, you can even drive your car right up to the plane and have a rental car waiting at the destination.

"I'm old-school when it comes to customer service," Jim says. "The biggest advantage of booking a private jet is convenience. You can even hold business meetings on the plane, so your business really has a productivity value."

The safety of booking a private plane with American Jet Charters is unparalleled as well. In 34 years, the business has had a perfect safety record and only uses veteran pilots.

Flying private is even easier with American Jet Charter's empty leg program. If the company flies to a destination and has an empty plane on the way back, you can buy seats at a big discount. 

"We are the only charter company that I know of that sells empty leg seats," Jim says.

So as air travel becomes crazy this holiday, choosing to fly charter can not only save you the headache of fighting the crowds, but also save time, productivity and peace of mind.

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  • The Citation Encore boasts of a longer body along with club seating.
  • The Citation Encore interior is luxurious and spacious.
  • Beechcraft Baron is American Jet Charter's most affordable option.
  • The Citation Bravo seats up to eight passengers.
  • The Challenger 350 exterior.
  • The Challenger 604 is the newest addition to the charter fleet