Of the many benefits of private jet travel (setting your own schedule, choosing your fellow passengers, traveling with pets, selecting your desired departure location and arrival location, amongst others) one of the most critical ones to consider is your departure and/or arrival airport.
There are usually many options when it comes to airport selection, unless you are in a remote area of the United States or in areas that prevent exclude airport construction such as mountainous areas. While you may be traveling to or from an area with many options are they really viable options (meaning, are they safe and reasonable for your planned trip)?
Determining if an airport is safe may seem to be easily determined but there are many factors to consider. These factors include but are not limited to: runway length, runway width, the weight bearing capacity of the runway, runway condition (is it paved, gravel, dirt or grass and well maintained), altitude of the airport (the higher the altitude the greater the impact on the aircraft’s performance), obstructions around or close to the airport, weather conditions (unpredictable winds, down drafts, snow, ice and their impact on visibility), is it controlled or not (meaning are there onsite personnel to advise field condition, winds and to perform air traffic control) and are there any airport facilities such as a fixed base operator (FBO) for fuel and other services. In addition to the condition and location of the airport you have to consider the operational performance (or lack thereof) of your aircraft or your selected aircraft and the capabilities of the aircraft crew.
One example of a potentially challenging airport is the recent accident at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in Colorado. This airport handles hundreds if not thousands of flights safely on an annual basis but presents a challenge for those flying into and out of there. The airport is located at a high altitude, has numerous obstructions, requires a steep approach and steep departure and crews are required to be certified for its use prior to flying there. There are others such as Yeager Airport in Charleston West Virginia, while it is controlled have large well maintained runways and good FBOs it was built on a mountain top with a cliff at either end of the runway, a small mistake could be catastrophic.
Even airports that meet all of the safety requirements might not be a good choice for your travel plans. If you use one of the large international airports, you can get stuck in the traffic when departing or arriving and they normally charge much higher fees for usage. Also some of the large international airports are not structured to accommodate the private flyer, so once on the ground or positioning for takeoff, you may have to taxi long distances to or from the FBO.
So when choosing an airport to use, safety should be the number one consideration, but you fly privately for convenience and efficiency and these have to also be factored into your decision process.