The wealthy in the US are rushing home by private jet to vote in swing states
- Forget the absentee ballot: some wealthy voters are chartering private flights to get to the polls on Election Day.
- Private jet charter company evoJets told Business Insider that at least four customers have booked flights specifically to vote, and all of those are headed to swing states.
- New York City-based helicopter firm Blade says more flyers than usual made their way to the Hamptons, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut on Friday and Monday, bucking the usual weekend getaway.
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Some voters are finding themselves waiting in line for hours to cast their ballots. Others will arrive by private jet this Election Day.
Across the country, the wealthy are shunning the absentee ballot and turning to private aircraft to make it home before the polls close to ensure their votes are counted in the 2020 presidential election.
Private aviation firms are reporting a new trend in bookings this week as flyers return to their primary residences, some for less than a day, just to submit their ballot.
Chartering flights to where their vote counts the most
Private jet charter brokerage evoJets has booked "several flights for clients returning to their primary residences," according to Managing Partner Rich Palese.
Four evoJets clients specifically booked flights to vote — and all of those are headed to swing states.
Two of the chartered trips are to Florida, 29 electoral votes, with one making a three-day round trip journey from California. And two jet-setters booked flights from popular quarantine getaways to get to their swing states. One is making the journey from Colorado to Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes. and another is headed from Wyoming to Ohio, 18 electoral votes.
The costs of these trips can easily be in the tens of thousands, depending on the aircraft being chartered, even if just for a same-day round trip. Adding in multiple-night stays can also add to the trip cost by thousands to cover accommodations for the aircraft and flight crew.
Major cities across the US are also gearing up for potential civil unrest following the election — the winner of which may not be known on Election Day night as mail-in ballots are counted in the days following — further encouraging the escape to secondary residences.
Helicopter firm Blade in New York City also confirmed to Business Insider that on Friday and Monday, it saw more flyers than normal take flights bound for the Hamptons, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut. Normally, flyers head home for the weekend and return to Manhattan for work at the start of the work week.
Taking flight to file in-person
The coronavirus pandemic has spurred additional early voting and vote-by-mail initiatives for the highly contentious election. But slow delivery times from the US Postal Service, reports of missing or rejected ballots, and concerns over the legitimacy of mail-in ballots have lead many to brace the polling place.
Early voting numbers are smashing records, indicating a large turnout on Election Day itself as issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to social justice are on the ballot. In Texas, nearly 10 million residents showed up to the polls during the state's early voting period, as Business Insider's John Dorman reported, more than the statewide count during the 2016 election.
In New York City, early voters spent up to two hours in the rain to vote at the Brooklyn Museum, as Business Insider's Jake Lahut reported. Some voters cited issues with the USPS and showed up in person to ensure their votes were counted.
Flying south for the winter
Election Day isn't typically a popular travel time as most wait until the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays to begin their travels, but this year has shifted how the wealthy move around the country. Instead of weekend getaways, some flyers are opting for season-long vacations as the pandemic offered a unique opportunity in the form of work from home and remote schooling.
The summer saw an influx of one-way private jet flights as the wealthy retreated from big cities that stayed in lockdown longer than the country's rural regions.
Five private aviation firms and brokerages polled by Business Insider indicated a preference for the mountains and the beach where the wealthy could social distance in the private. Newly opened destinations like Florida, Georgia, Colorado, and Texas were at the top of the list.
The private industry as a whole is currently experiencing a boom as the wealthy opt against flying on commercial airlines. While the fall season would normally season an influx in business travel and decrease in leisure travel, executives in the industry are reporting the opposite as they too recover from the effects of the pandemic on air travel.
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