3 athletes in sportswear fly on a private charter plane

Fly Like a Champion: Private Jets Revolutionize Olympic Travel

2024 is an Olympic year, and more than 10,000 athletes from around the world will converge on Paris, chasing their dream of becoming the very best.

While fans naturally focus on the competitive side, the Olympics is also a logistical undertaking of immense proportions. The simple task of getting to Paris is a challenge in and of itself. Increasingly, teams are overcoming this by choosing to fly privately.

This year’s Olympic Games promise to be truly spectacular. The sheer scale is mind-bending: 200 countries, 329 different sporting events, and 35 venues situated in some of the most iconic sites of Paris, maintained by 30,000 volunteers. This doesn’t even account for executives, security, and other staff members.

The main stars, of course, are the athletes, numbering 10,000. Yet, this number is only part of the story. Each athlete or team has their own supporting staff: coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, doctors, technical specialists, etc., putting the number of Olympic Games participants close to 100,000.

The vast majority will travel to Paris by plane, as it is by far the fastest and safest mode of transportation. The question is how to fly. A large share of national Olympic committees still chooses to travel commercially. However, this is less than ideal for high-performing professional athletes with Olympic medal ambitions.

In today’s sports world, more and more athletes and teams choose to charter their flights. It has already become the norm in major US sports leagues, the UEFA Champions League, the Euroleague, etc. Recently, the WNBA also announced that starting from the upcoming season, all teams will fly on chartered planes. The biggest individual athletes in tennis, athletics, or swimming also routinely fly private.

“Charter flights in team sports have been steadily rising for quite some time. However, the pandemic further accelerated this process. Initially, charter flights became the main choice due to the lack of commercial flights and security concerns, but eventually, managers and coaches noticed that charter flights positively affect the athletes’ performance and well-being,” says Justinas Bulka, CEO of the leading global charter flight provider, KlasJet.

It’s easy to understand why. Charter flights enable teams and athletes to better plan their preparation. Athletes can travel from private terminals at smaller airports, enjoying amenities like VIP ground transportation and hassle-free check-in without security lines, allowing them to board directly from the ramp just minutes before departure. Onboard, the experience is tailored to athletes’ needs with personalized catering that meets dietary requirements and cabin adjustments like a “lights out” policy to promote quality rest. These features, along with direct flights, help athletes stay focused and physically prepared for the upcoming competitions, eliminating common travel hassles.

“Teams that we work with are quick to notice that flying privately reduces the risk of injury and can even improve performance. Sitting in a cramped space for extended periods can lead to stiffness, especially for athletes whose physical condition and muscle recovery are crucial. The lack of movement can also exacerbate existing injuries,” Justinas Bulka explains.

There is also the mental aspect. Long-haul flights can significantly disrupt sleep patterns and hinder an athlete’s recovery and performance. The stress associated with navigating through crowded airports, dealing with delays, and managing luggage can also affect an athlete’s mental state and focus before an important event. Charter flights provide them with an opportunity to focus on what’s important—competing.

The main reason why some Olympic committees still choose to fly commercially is the perception of price. In actuality, the cost gap is not so large, especially if the flight is chartered for most of the Olympic team. One must also consider the amount of money saved by arriving at the games themselves without any delays or additional waiting time.

“The Olympics is a special event that occurs only once every four years. For many athletes, it’s a single chance to give everything they have. Charter flights are one way of helping and empowering them to perform to the best of their ability and seize their chance to prove themselves,” says Mr. Bulka.

There is also an aspect of national pride for both the athletes and their fans. The athletes feel appreciated by the country they represent that invests in their well-being and helps them reach their full potential by removing any additional barriers. At the same time, fans feel proud that their country does everything to support its athletes.

“The Olympic Games are an important event for all countries. Athletic victories become a source of pride and inspiration at home. Meanwhile, abroad, they raise the country’s profile and improve its image. In other words, it makes a lot of sense to invest in the comfort and well-being of athletes,” says the CEO of KlasJet.

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