Chartered vs Commercial: Which is (actually) the better deal?
By Richard Fellner
IF you're considering a golfing "Bucket List" trip to play the amazing courses like Barnbougle Dunes (Tasmania) or Cape Wickham/Ocean Dunes (King Island), then chances are likely that you're also debating the merits of "Chartered vs Commercial", i.e. flying either via commercial airlines like Jetstar, or via chartered aircraft, like Vortex Air.
On the surface, it may seem like commercial flights are far cheaper.
But are they?
After multiple trips to Tasmania/King Island over many years, I can categorically state that, when you factor in all the "invisible" costs of commercial travel, it turns out that the chartered flights are FAR better value.
In fact, flying chartered could be the smartest move you can make in many situations.
Chartered Vs Commercial: Cost/Time comparison
Imagine you are taking the dream 3-day golfing trip to Barnbougle Dunes. And for the purposes of this, let's assume you are travelling from Melbourne (which is the nearest major airport/transfer).
IF YOU FLY COMMERCIALLY:
Regardless of your airline choice (Virgin/Jetstar/etc), you need to:
- Arrange airport parking. For 3 days, you can expect to pay around $50/day in Airport Terminal Parking. (While you can find it cheaper at off-site providers, there is the additional TIME COST of dropping your car/paying, hauling your bags to the shuttle, shuttle transfer itself etc). Time: ~30 minutes. Cost: ~$150
- Check-in at the Airport. You will need to be at the airport around 60-90 minutes prior to your flight.
- Check your golf bags via Oversize Baggage. This can sometimes be an extra cost ($30-60 extra), as well as a bit of hassle at the airport.
- Go through Security, etc. Long queues, stress, etc
- Fly to Launceston. Time: 1 Hour. Cost: around $200-$400 return (depending on dates)
- Collect your bags upon arrival. Time: 15-20 minutes.
- Hire a rental car in Launceston. Depending on time of year (plus insurance, etc), expect $100/day (for something you'll barely use). 15-20 minutes. Cost: $300 for weekend
- Drive from Launceston to Barnbougle Dunes. 1.5 hours. ~100km distance. Cost for Petrol (Varies per car, but but let's assume ~$50)
After your golf event is over, you need to repeat the process above, in reverse. (And remember, you'll be exhausted after a weekend of golf!)
Total Time: around 5 hours (each way)
Total Cost: ~$700+
FLYING CHARTER (Like Vortex Air)
- Parking is Free
- Airport Check-in: No security queue. Rock-up and drop your bag 20 mins prior.
- Flight: 1 hour.
- Landing: NEXT TO THE COURSE at Barnbougle Dunes.
- Grab your bags (10 minutes), hop on the waiting golf cart, and get ready to tee off!
Total Time: around 90 minutes (a saving of nearly 3.5 hours. That's a round of golf, by the way!)
Total Cost: ~$700 (dep Moorabbin), ~$800 (dep Essendon)
As you can see, the costs of chartered vs commercial are about the same!
But the time you save is invaluable: you could be teeing it up at Barnbougle in less time than it takes to just check your bags via a commercial airline!
And let's face it, flying via a chartered flight is the ultimate "Tour Pro" experience. You simply rock up to the airport, bypass all the queues, and hop on to your own personally-chartered, executive-style aircraft, where you buckle in to your comfy leather seat by the window (they ALL have windows). After a speedy 45-minute flight, you land on a private airstrip which is just metres from one of the world's best golf courses. You casually hop on to a special golf cart and are driven to the clubhouse…where your clubs, tee time and overnight accommodation are all arranged for you.
THE LONG RIDE HOME
- Let's not forget the RETURN travel experience. After a huge weekend of golfing, food, beverages and extracurriculars, many golfers are, literally, exhausted. So if given the choice of the stress-filled 5-hour Commercial Flight experience (including the 1.5 hours driving to the airport after golf, hoping you don't miss your flight), vs a 90-minute chartered flight (which waits for you until your golf is over), then the choice is clear.
So... Chartered vs Commercial? I know which one I'd rather experience.