Flying private has always been seen as a luxurious experience. One that is free from the hassles of commercial air travel, and which provides a level of comfort that's unmatched in other forms of air travel. But what happens when turbulence hits? Do private jets suffer from the same bumps and jolts as their commercial counterparts? And if so, just how turbulent can private jet travel be?
To understand how turbulence can affect private jet travel, it's important to first understand what turbulence is and why it occurs. Turbulence is essentially pockets of rough air that can occur at any time and at practically any altitude. It is caused by a number of different factors, including changes in the environment (such as temperature or humidity), wind shear (when different layers of air are moving at different speeds), jet streams, and even turbulence created by other aircraft in the vicinity.
There are different types of turbulence, but for the sake of simplicity, we can generally distinguish turbulence at lower altitudes and higher altitudes.
Most turbulence is caused by weather, which is usually found at lower altitudes. This is the kind of turbulence you are likely to experience when flying in a private jet, and while it can be uncomfortable, it will usually not last for very long as the aircraft climbs above it quickly.
Higher altitude turbulence, on the other hand, is caused by weather phenomena like jet streams, or thunderclouds that could extend to higher altitudes. This type of turbulence can last for longer periods of time, making it more uncomfortable for passengers.
As turbulence is essentially pockets of air moving at different speeds, it can cause an airplane to bump around as it moves through it. This can be anything from a gentle rocking motion to more severe jolting and shaking. The severity of the turbulence will depend on a number of factors, including the size and weight of the aircraft, the strength of the turbulence, specific weather conditions, and how the aircraft is flown through it.
While turbulence is generally no cause for concern, it can be uncomfortable for passengers and crew alike. It can also lead to delays if the aircraft needs to change course or altitude to avoid it. In severe cases, which luckily are very rare, turbulence can even cause damage to the aircraft or injuries to those onboard.
While turbulence is a common occurrence in both private and commercial aviation, there are some key differences that private jet travelers should be aware of.
Because of their higher cruise altitude and faster climb performance, private jets usually cruise well above any turbulence and can reach these altitudes quicker, meaning they spend less time in turbulent lower-altitude air. Most private jets have a significantly higher cruise altitude than commercial airliners: 50,000 feet or higher, compared to the service ceiling of some 39,000 feet for most commercial aircraft. This means that commercial aircraft could be 'stuck' at an altitude with turbulence, while private jets can climb well above any weather system that could cause it.
However, private jets are not immune to turbulence. In fact, when a private jet does encounter turbulence, it can be more susceptible to it than commercial airliners. This is due to the fact that private jets are generally smaller and lighter than commercial airplanes, making them more susceptible to being affected by rough air.
You could compare turbulence to waves in the ocean: just as a small boat will be affected differently by waves than a large ship, so too will a small private jet be affected differently by turbulence than a commercial airliner. In general, the larger and heavier an aircraft is, the less turbulence it will feel.
While this may sound concerning, it's important to remember that private jets are also much smaller and more agile than commercial airliners, which means they can typically avoid turbulence with more ease by flying around or over it. Private jet travelers usually also have a much more comfortable experience when it comes to turbulence, as they offer a more spacious and private cabin environment. This means that private jet passengers are less likely to be jostled about in their seats and can move about the cabin more freely if needed.
While turbulence is an inevitable part of flying, private jets have a number of advantages that allow them to avoid it more easily than commercial airlines.
As private jets typically fly at a higher altitude than commercial airliners, they are less likely to be limited by other traffic at the same altitude when re-routing around turbulence and weather. The agility and speed of private jets also allows them to more easily avoid turbulence, as they can quickly change altitude or course if needed.
In addition, modern private jets are very well equipped with the latest technology and weather forecast data, which means that pilots can typically avoid turbulence by planning their route around it.
Turbulence is a fact of life for all air travelers, it's no different when flying on a private jet. However, there are some things that private jet travelers can do to make the experience more comfortable.
First and foremost, it's important to stay calm. Turbulence is usually brief and poses no real danger to the aircraft or its passengers. If you start to feel uneasy, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths until the turbulence subsides. You can also try to distract yourself by talking to your fellow passengers, reading a book, listening to music, or watching a movie.
When turbulence is present, it's also important to stay seated and buckled up. If you do need to move about the cabin, always do so with caution. Hold on to seatbacks when walking, and be careful not to bump into items or furniture in the cabin.
Finally, remember that turbulence is generally not dangerous and will eventually subside. Your crew will be aware of the turbulence and will be taking steps to avoid it or minimize its impact on your safety and comfort.
While turbulence may be a bit more common on private jets, it's still not something that passengers need to worry about. In most cases, it is simply a minor inconvenience. Although private jets may encounter some turbulence during takeoff or landing, they rarely experience it during cruise at higher altitudes.
However, if you are particularly sensitive to turbulence or have any concerns, be sure to speak with your crew. They will be able to provide you with more information and make sure that you are comfortable with the planned route and expected conditions.
If you have any other questions regarding weather and its impact on your flight, feel free to get in touch with our team. We will be happy to address any concerns you may have regarding safety and comfort!
You can read more about the impact of other weather conditions on your private jet flight in our previous blog article here.