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App Helps Wealthy Hitch Rides on Private Jets

Tuesday, 30 Apr 2013 | 10:35 AM ET
Cavan Images | Iconica | Getty Images

Wealthy travelers wanting to fly in style can book empty seats on private planes with a new app for a jet-sharing service.

Although there are dozens of apps for buying seats on commercial flights, BlackJet is a new iPhone app that connects travelers with private jets that have available seats.

Flights are shared with from two to 14 other passengers, and the price is on par with a premium fare on a commercial airline, according to the San Francisco-based company.

"We had the idea to use the existing aircraft out there and to leverage the excess capacity," said BlackJet CEO Dean Rotchin.

Members of the service pay a $2,500 annual fee and can book a seat on any of 4,000 airplanes the company has access to through partnerships. They can also buy add-on services such as meals and ground transportation.

The service is geared primarily toward business travelers looking for convenience, time-savings and reliability, according to Rotchin.

Travelers using the app can buy a seat in advance but will not get a precise itinerary until the day before the flight.

"On the day of travel the experience is completely different than at the major airports," Rotchin said. "You're basically driving right up to the plane, getting on the airplane, and within 15 minutes the airplane is leaving."

Costs for flights booked with the app range from $900 Los Angeles-Las Vegas to $3,500 coast-to-coast.

The company offers flights from San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles and South Florida, and plans to expand service to Chicago, Washington, Boston, Dallas and Seattle.

More than 3,000 flights have been booked through the web app since it launched in October, the company said.

An app called PrivateFly, which is available worldwide for iPhone, iPad and Android, allows jet-setters and companies to book an entire private aircraft.

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  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.