We explore six different ways to travel around the world, in a small group, on a private jet. This is air cruise, by companies like Four Seasons, Aman and National Geographic.
Instead of cruising on the sea, you can cruise in a customised aircraft, with a small group of like-minded travellers. It’s not private, but you enjoy many of the advantages of flying in a private jet.
These air cruises connect some of the world’s most exceptional and inaccessible destinations, in a short amount of time. We take a deep dive into the world’s six best air cruise options.
What is an Air Cruise?
The biggest benefits of a private jet are time and convenience. You fly directly between any two locations, without layovers, long land transfers or inconvenient flight schedules.
This is the biggest advantage of an air cruise. You fly between exotic destinations that are very difficult to combine on a normal holiday. Itineraries connect six to ten different destinations, either in one continent or crossing the entire world.
Imagine a holiday in the Americas incorporating New Orleans, Costa Rica, Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, Antarctica, Bogota and Bahamas. All with direct flights at convenient times!
The aircraft offers the luxury associated with a private jet, like lie-flat seats, large bathrooms and a private onboard chef. Most operators customise a large jet with around 50 business-class seats.
However, it’s not actually a private jet, because it’s not a jet that’s private for you. You’ll travel with 15 – 70 other people depending on the operator, plus guides. You can customise your experiences on the ground, but the overall itinerary has no room for your own individualisation.
But imagine a three-week expedition around the Arctic visiting seven wonders of the north, places you simply can’t get to without private aircraft!
Prices range from EUR 60,000 to EUR 200,000 for a three-week trip and this usually includes all flights and transportation, five-star hotel accommodation, most activities, meals and drinks.
We compare six different options and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Four Seasons Air Cruise
Four Seasons offer the widest program of air cruises, on board their custom Airbus A321LR, with 48 fully flat seats across 12 rows in a 2×2 configuration.
The two to three-week itineraries travel to many of the world’s best destinations. Clarification: the world’s best destinations with a Four Seasons property. In rare cases they do use other accommodation, for example, for gorilla trekking in Rwanda. But this is a Four Seasons hotel and resort tour, so it will only appeal to fans of the brand.
The itineraries really are once-in-a-lifetime. For example, African wonders visits Athens, The Pyramids, Serengeti, Mauritius, Rwanda, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg, in two weeks for USD 135,000.
Ancient Explorer combines Miami, Mexico City, Easter Island, Bora Bora, the Great Barrier Reef, Bangkok, Petra, The Pyramids, Sicily and Madrid, in three weeks for USD 190,000. Four Seasons is clearly the winner if you want a wide choice of itineraries and departure dates.
There’s a big emphasis on customising your experience on the ground, although 48 passengers is a pretty large group. And while Four Seasons offers a reassuring quality, you don’t need to increase your budget by much to enjoy a fully private air cruise on your own jet.
National Geographic Expeditions
Air cruises by National Geographic Expeditions are usually a little longer and quite a lot cheaper. Their niche itineraries are extremely interesting, mixing an exceptional variety of destinations.
Routes typically focus on the world’s natural and cultural wonders, or a deep educational insight into the world. For example, 24 days exploring The Wildlife of the World (USD 99,995), or a 24-day trip exploring global innovation from Kyoto to Singapore, Samarkand and Tallinn.
Their signature 24-day Around the World by Private Jet starts at USD 96,995. It combines Cusco, Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Samoa, Great Barrier Reef, Angkor Wat, Kathmandu in Nepal, Bhutan, Taj Mahal, Serengeti, Petra and Marrakech.
Like Four Seasons Air Cruise, most departures are from the United States, which will add cost and time. The National Geographic jet is a Boeing 757 customised to accommodate 75 guests in business class seating.
Accommodation is generally of a good standard but not the very best available. We think they can up their game a little on this point. Instead, the selling point is being accompanied by National Geographic’s experts, such as their magazine editors. It means there’s less customisation of your experience on the ground, but you’re accompanied by some of the world’s most knowledgeable guides.
A newcomer to the air cruise scene, Arctic Horizon is operated by the same amazing people as HL Adventure, our trusted local partner in Iceland. The Arctic expedition is a long-time dream of HL Adventure founder Jon Olafur Magnusson. Jon told us:
The idea for Arctic Horizon has evolved over 20 years. It’s a three-week Arctic expedition by private jet for 50 like-minded explorers. This is the culmination of my life’s work.
The Arctic Horizon expedition travels to seven wonders of the North by private Boeing 757-200, configured with 50 first-class lie-flat seats, plus butler service and our onboard chef.
Iceland to Greenland, then west to Canada, north to Alaska, the North Pole, Svalbard, Norway and back to Iceland. You visit locations that are very difficult to visit without a private jet, which contrasts the other air cruise companies, who typically use destinations you can comfortably reach on commercial flights with layovers.
Of all the air cruise itineraries, this is the most authentic in terms of the experiences on offer. It’s a very specialised trip with the leading Arctic experts, staying at the best accommodation in the Arctic Circle.
The inaugural three-week expedition launches in summer 2024, from 16 July to 4 August. It costs USD 187,000 per person, which includes almost all meals, activities and drinks.
Interested in an Air Cruise?
Aman Jet Expedition
Aman’s air cruises are more exclusive, limited to only seven to nine couples travelling in an Airbus ACJ318. They’re operated by tour company Remote Lands and only use Aman resorts and hotels for accommodation.
Each couple has a private car, driver and guide for each day of the expedition, so the on-the-ground experiences and exploration is completely customisable and private. This really isn’t a group trip and the small private jet is designed as a cocktail party in the sky between destinations.
Aman’s itineraries do not connect the most interesting places in the world, they’re really a tour of Aman properties. Aman only has 34 hotels and resorts in 20 countries, whereas Four Seasons has 124 in 47 countries.
Most of Aman’s properties are in Europe and Asia, so this is a great option if you like the Aman brand and really want to explore these two continents. Plus, departing or ending in Europe is more convenient than a Four Seasons or National Geographic departure from the USA.
With Aman Jet Expeditions you are quite limited in terms of itinerary and departure dates, but you’ll enjoy more exclusivity and a similar, if not higher, level of luxury than Four Seasons, at a similar price.
Safrans du Monde
Operating for almost 20 years now, Safrans du Monde is an air cruise on a budget. It’s very good value and the trips depart from Paris, so convenience is an advantage too.
We love the Safrans du Monde itineraries and how they seamlessly connect the icons of the world. These are trips for experiencing many one-in-a-lifetime places in only three weeks.
Take their signature The World Tour Grand Classiques: Paris to Rio de Janeiro, to Cusco and Machu Picchu, then Easter Island, French Polynesia, Sydney, Hanoi and Halong Bay in Vietnam, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, before ending with the Taj Mahal in Agra and Petra in Jordan. The 22-day trip costs EUR 68,000 in Club Safrans class and EUR 105,000 in Premiere Safrans.
The aircraft is fitted with 76 seats in two classes. At each destination you will do activities in groups of up to 16 passengers (Premiere class) or 25 passengers (Club class).
Club Safrans uses entry-level five-star accommodation and we wouldn’t usually recommend any of these hotels for our clients going on a holiday. For example, Fairmont in Rio instead of Belmond, Sofitel or Hilton in French Polynesia, instead of Intercontinental Bora Bora or Conrad Bora Bora in Premiere class. It’s a business class level service on the jet.
Hotels in the Premiere Safrans category are significantly better, but we’re a little disappointed that they don’t use the best of the best accommodation in every destination. This class has first-class lie-flat seats on board and a wider inclusion of better activities.
Surprisingly though, Safrans du Monde only offers a few annual departures. All the itineraries are incredible, you’re just limited on when you can travel.
A Fully Private Jet Journey with EliteVoyage
There isn’t one air cruise holiday for everyone. For us the best combination would be the diverse choice of Four Seasons, exclusivity of Aman, specialism of Arctic Horizon and the route creation of Safrans du Monde or National Geographic.
With EliteVoyage you can do this. The ultimate air cruise is a fully private air cruise, to anywhere you want to, anytime you want to travel, with only the people you invite. Truly a private jet around the world. We’ve actually designed and delivered this for one of our clients.
The advantages are endless. Depart directly from Prague. Create your own itinerary, in terms of destinations, hotels and experiences. Travel on a small private jet customised to your needs.
Evidently, this is the most expensive air cruise option. However, when you have six or more passengers, the price is comparable to a Four Seasons air cruise.
Interested in an Air Cruise for Your Next Holiday?
This article provides an overview of the different options. If you’re interested in an air cruise there’s a lot more we need to tell you. And when we know the types of destinations and experiences you want, we can advise you on different departures.
So let’s sit down for a coffee and discuss if any of these air cruise holidays are right for you.