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My Jet Is Bigger Than Your Jet

In the competitive world we live in, the general consensus is that bigger is always better. We all want bigger homes, bigger cars and bigger boats. But in matters of aviation, does size really matter?

In order to understand if bigger really is better, we first have to gain an understanding of the different size options of corporate jets. There are three different size classes of corporate jet. Light jets are the smallest class. Heavy Jets are the largest. The space in the middle is occupied by the class very appropriately referred to as Mid-sized jets.

Light jets are the smallest class of business jet. Light jets have an average cabin height of four and a half feet. They have an average cabin width of five feet and an average cabin length of approximately 14 feet. Light jets are configured to seat six to eight passengers and with a full passenger load, seating gets tight and baggage space is very limited. It’s also a bit difficult to move around inside the cabin, especially as the head count goes up and the lavatory configuration varies from aircraft model to aircraft model and from aircraft to aircraft. In some instance, the lavatory consists of a potty seat with a curtain providing the only source of privacy. Sometimes, the potty seat is separated by a door or partition. Light jets have a fly at speeds of between 400 mph and 480 mph and they have a range of approximately three to 4 and a half hours. Lear 35’s, Citation Bravo’s and BeechJets are typical light jets. They generally charter at a rate of about $2,500 per flight. These aircraft are best suited for groups of six or less flying three hours or less per flight segment.

The next size class business jet is a medium or mid-size jet. Mid-size jets have an average cabin height of five and a half feet. They have an average cabin width of six feet and an average cabin length of approximately 20 feet. Like light jets, mid-size jets are configured to seat six to eight passengers, however even with a full load, all passengers can be seated in comfort and there is ample room for luggage, although the exact capacity varies by aircraft model. Moving around the cabin is relatively easy, even if it isn’t considered a full “stand-up” cabin. All mid-sized jets have a fully enclosed lavatory offering complete privacy. Mid-size jets fly at speeds between 450 mph and 520 mph and have a range of approximately four to five and a half hours. These aircraft are best suited for groups of up to eight flying up to five hours per flight segment. Mid-size jets charter at a rate of around $3,400 per hour and the most common models are Hawkers, Citation Excels and Lear 60’s.

The biggest size class of business jets are know as heavy jets. Heavy jets have an average cabin height of a little over six feet classifying them as true stand-up cabins. The average width of the cabin is around 7.5 feet and the cabin lengths range from between 28 feet and 50 feet depending on the business jet make and model. Heavy jets are configured to seat between nine and 16 passengers in complete comfort and the nice addition is that of flight attendants which are generally not present on light of mid-size business jets. Heavy jets have large capacities for baggage, a fully enclosed lavatory and they offer plenty of space to move around during the flight considering the fact that you’re on a business jet. Speeds of the aircraft range from 480 mph to 540 mph and heavy jets have a range from six up to 14 hours depending on make, model, winds and passenger load. Hourly charter rates can vary from $4,500 per hour to as high as $8,000 per hour depending on model. Heavy jets are best suited for larger groups and for inter-continental travel.

Heavy jets are the biggest class of business jets but are they better than mid-size or light jets? I guess it depends on what you mean by better. At Chief Executive Air, we have an interesting way of defining best. Based on our definition, the best jet depends on what you’re trying to do. Based on a variety of factors including your budget, the number of passengers and your itinerary, we help you determine what the “best” business jet for your trip is.

If you have two passengers trying to hop over from New York to Detroit for a quick meeting, and they scoot right back to New York, the best jet would be a light jet. They are fast, efficient and inexpensive. With two passengers on a one hour flight, the comfort level is fine.

If you have four passengers flying from Chicago to Arizona for two days of golf, a mid-size jet will be the best alternative. On the three hour flight, 4 passengers with four sets of clubs would probably be a bit cramped on a light jet. You would certainly fit but the added comfort might be worth the added expense, especially if the trip is for a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary or for entertaining important clients or good friends.

Flying from Miami to Honolulu? You’ll probably want a heavy jet. On a 13 hour flight, you will want to have enough room to stand up and stretch your legs, or to lie down on a berthable couch and get some sleep. The cabin attendant will tend to all of your needs by providing you with meal and beverage service, and with the range, you’ll probably make it with only one fuel stop in each direction.

When chartering a business jet, bigger isn’t always better. The best jet is always the one best suited to your needs that has enough space for you and your luggage, enough range to get you where you want to go non-stop and all of the amenities you will need and expect for your trip.

Jeffrey Menaged is the President and CEO of Chief Executive Air, a private aviation company specializing in aircraft charters, jet card programs, fractional ownership programs, aircraft sales and acquisitions and aircraft management. Please visit them on the web at or email Jeffrey at