Most of all, the questions from NBAA will quickly reveal how knowledgeable the person on the other end of the phone is about what they are selling. ARGUS and Wyvern both certify brokerage houses, but keep in mind, within any company that may have dozens of brokers, the quality and know-how of the individual brokers varies much like massage therapists at a spa. Remember, you're spending a lot of money to charter a plane. If the broker doesn't have time now to answer questions about their experiences, how they source aircraft, and so forth, what will you get when there's a problem?
The most economical option is chartering, which doesn't require any cash upfront (other than a deposit) through companies like Tradewind, Sentient, and Solairus, (which we took home from North Carolina). Of course, there are the old standbys like NetJets and Marquis, who sell fractional ownership (like 1/16th) of a single jet for upwards of $100K. One step down from that, pricewise, is the jet card, where you buy a set amount of hours from a company like Nicholas or Private Jet Services, and can use those hours for different planes. Then there are membership models like WheelsUp, where you pay $17,500 as an initiation fee to fly in their fleet, and then a $8,500 annual dues fee starting the second year. It's like a country club—only you're guaranteed access to a KingAir350i or Citation Excel / XLS instead of a golf course.
I had the pleasure to work with Joel on a last minute trip needed to transport several professional athletes to an event. Joel was fast-acting and completely professional every step of the way. He sent constant updates to make sure our trip needs were met every step of the way. I would recommend Joel and Stratos to anybody looking to book private jets who also values professionalism and accountability.
You will be told how much the hold can take on your chosen aircraft and can upgrade if you feel more space is needed. This will generally be far more than that of a commercial airline. You may also need to upgrade if carrying things like golf clubs and skis. If travelling with a gun, you will need to provide a license and the gun and ammunition must be kept separate. It is then at the captain’s discretion whether it can be on board.