The legendary football coach of Ohio State University, Woody Hayes, is famed for saying, “There are only three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad.” For private jet card flyers, all three things that can happen on peak days are bad. So our first recommendation is, avoid flying on peak days.

Of course, that is only sometimes possible, and that’s why it’s essential to understand peak days, or what some companies call high-demand days. Whatever the name, there are three significant challenges you have to reckon with during those periods.

1. Peak Day Surcharges

Many private jet flight providers heap surcharges on peak or high-demand days. These extra fees range from minimal to as high as 100%. The higher the surcharge, the stronger the message that the provider would prefer you not fly on that day.


In addition to being more expensive, busy days mean more delays. They happen on the ground at private jet terminals, which are still often short-staffed, post-COVID; and in the air, where the nation’s air traffic control systems are often overloaded.

2. Longer Booking and Cancel Windows

Flexibility is a crucial reason to fly privately. But restrictions on peak days can be intense.

Programs that let you book and cancel or change your flights at contracted rates as little as 24, 48, or 72 hours before departure will have a longer lead time requirement, or what’s known as “callout,” on peak days. In some cases, it can be as much as seven to ten days before your flight.

If you cancel too late, you could lose 100% of your money, according to the terms of the contract you signed. Some programs do not permit changes or cancellations at all after you book on peak days, so read the fine print.


And no, it’s not like the airlines where they assess a fee, and you receive the remainder of your value in a flight credit. With private aviation, your money is gone.

3. Sliding Departures on Peak Days

Another great benefit of flying privately is the ability to set your own schedule. But per their contract, virtually all providers can move your flight forward or backward by three hours on peak days.

That means fewer runs down the mountain when you get a morning call that the new return time is two o’clock instead of five. Sliding departures can also be a real pain for families scheduling flights for after the kids get out of school. They can also play havoc with checkout times, meaning you are cooling your heels at an FBO (a private jet terminal) or the hotel lobby.

How Many Peak Days Do Programs Have?

According to the buyer’s guide Private Jet Card Comparisons (where I’m founder and editor-in-chief), the average at the end of Q1 2024 was 47.5 peak days per year.

While that is below the all-time high of 55.7 days in 2022, it’s double the 22.8 days average before the Covid surge of private flyers.

It’s also important to know that some providers restrict upgrading jet size on peak days and guarantee fewer seats on smaller planes. That can be a bummer, since many times, it is those holidays when you are traveling with more people. In fact, some programs don’t guarantee availability or contracted pricing in those busy periods.

How To Avoid Peak Days When Flying Private

I always recommend reviewing any peak days, high-demand dates, or blackout dates before joining a program. Providers publish their calendars for the coming year, so ask your rep to include them when they send the proposal. Also, ask for a copy of the contract to understand the policies and penalties for peak days flying.