People Are Holding Events In The Sky To Circumvent Quarantines

Rules that limit the size of gatherings are imposed at the city, state, or national level – and don’t apply to the sky. So if it’s illegal to gather with 20 or 40 of your closest friends because of the global pandemic, why not hold your get together in the sky?

Not only is it a way to hold events that’s legal in places that restrict getting together with those outside your immediate household due to Covid-19, but it’s also a way to look after the safety of your guests and reduce the likelihood of spread.

Planes with HEPA air filtration are one of the safest indoor environments possible, plus air flow from ceiling to the floor. It’s far less likely for someone to spread the virus on most planes than it is inside of a restaurant other other gathering place on the ground. Not all small aircraft have HEPA filtration (though American Airlines is in the process of adding it to their small ERJ-145 regional jets) so you want to find out whether any given aircraft you might consider for an event has it.

One company is offering wedding packages on board private planes. For $28,000 they offer:

  • 2 hour flight on a Challenger 850 for up to 16 guests
  • Pre-arranged route to fly over “areas of significance to those who are celebrating their marriage”
  • Food and beverages, canapes and personalized wedding favors
  • roundtrip chauffeur service for the wedding couple
  • crewmember to officiate
  • flowers
  • in-flight music playlist

There’s also a budget package for eloping at $18,000 on a smaller plane like a Cessna Citation CJ2.

The pricing here seems too high, though perhaps private jet travel has gotten more expensive during the pandemic than I realize. My mental model in very round numbers is chartering a very small plane for around $3000 an hour, maybe $6000 an hour for a mid-size private jet, and maybe $10,000 an hour for a large private plane. So this seems to be not just ‘chartering a plane and having people come on board’ plus the cost of catering. Still, it’s not crazy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s heartening to see people finding ways to avoid government rules.

    I’ve never been a law breaker before, but, even black market ways of getting around this is growing everywhere.

    Grey market stuff like this is cool, but, bring on the people who ignore all this non-sense.
    Inspires me that people don’t want to be caged.

  2. Remember to pay for meeting travel using a co-branded airline credit card or a credit card like the Platinum Card from American Express to receive a useful frequent flyer mileage bonus. Don’t live life without it.

  3. You should work in a hospital, Gary. A tour of duty with an infection control department would be very illuminating.

  4. Short version: the weapons against Covid are masking and distance. That is what matters. Airflow / HEPA filtration is not sufficient.

    If you don’t believe me, ask an infection control expert whether staff eat meals < 6 feet apart in hospitals. (Hint: they aren't supposed to, because dearly beloved HEPA won't prevent transmission.)

  5. Andrew, I’d make an argument on hepa vs covid. Hepa filters anything bigger then .o3. covid is ranged from .06-1.2. Most masks can’t filter that small of a droplet but Hepa can.

  6. Doc – That’s cool if you’re breathing directly from the air output on your HEPA filtration system. But there’s likely a gap between that output and your respiratory system.

    But my point is that HEPA alone doesn’t cut it. All of the studies that the CDC did back in early 2020 showed spread on long-distance aircraft with HEPA filters and no masks.

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