The Gulfstream G4 Private Jet

Party on inside the Stratocaster of the Stratosphere

Simply known as the “G4” or “GIV”, the Gulfstream IV revolutionized business aviation when it hit the market in 1987.

The successor to the GIII, Gulfstream’s hugely successful business jet which debuted in 1979, the G4 cemented the company’s position atop the business jet industry throughout the 1980’s.

The G4 is one of the most famous and well-known private jets ever produced. It’s design and performance were so impressive, Gulfstream has modeled most of their luxury jets off of the GIV ever since.

Variations during its lifespan included the G350, G400, G450 and GIV-SP, and after it’s final delivery in January 2018, more than 900 GIV/GIV-SP/G450 models had been produced, ending a 30-year production run after it was replaced by the G500.

Today, it’s still a very popular choice among large-cabin heavy jets for charter operators, jet card programs, and corporate ownership, offering travelers around the world superior speed, range, and reliability.

Although the GIV certainly wasn’t the first business jet to enter the stratosphere, it’s responsible for bringing luxury private jet travel into the mainstream.

Basically, it’s the Fender Stratocaster of the Sky.

Revolutionary Design

Les Paul invented the electric guitar, and many could even argue that he perfected it.

Gibson would go on to produce many popular models starting in 1952, however, it was Leo Fender’s Stratocaster that revolutionized and popularized the electric guitar with it’s sleek, futuristic design and incredible, sonic tone.

image by David Harnetty

Fender’s Stratocaster not only sounded different, but looked totally unique and innovative for its time; featuring sleek cutaways on both sides, it was contoured in a way never before seen on a solid-body guitar.

The Stratocaster has been used by musicians in every genre of music, from rock and country to blues and jazz, and ushered in a new era of guitar design, sound, and capabilities.

Rock Gods have taken the stage with one strapped around their shoulder for decades, from Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the original Strat hero, Buddy Holly, to modern maestros like John Mayer, John Frusciante, and Yngwie Malmsteen.

“Wow. A ’64 Fender Stratocaster in classic white with triple single coil pickups and a whammy bar.”

After seeing their heroes shredding on a Fender Strat, along with an iconic photograph of one being set on fire, guitarists around the world had to have one.

Stratocasters were proliferated into several variations, and quickly became the best selling guitar in the world.

It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

Likewise, many executives and private jet owners found themselves quoting Wayne Campbell after seeing the GIV for the first time.

Throughout the 90’s, you could go to any business aviation event around the world and easily spot midsize and light jet owners as they walked through static GIV displays, like Wayne Campbell playing “Stairway to Heaven” again on his dream guitar, envious of its luxurious overall quality and performance.

Yes, and its also the choice of a new generation

It’s style, range, and high speed performance made the GIV the premier luxury jet in business aviation. And, like Fender, Gulfstream proliferated their flagship model to reach a broader audience.

The GIV-SP is a single-pilot version released in 1993. A later upgrade to the GIV-SP led to the creation the G450 (GIV-X) in 2004, with upgrades increasing range and payload, along with aerodynamic improvements and a new avionics suite — many of the G450’s upgrades found their way onto it’s successor, the Gulfstream GV.

Source: Flickr (motox810)

Other models in the G4 series include the the G350, the same as the G450 with reduced fuel capacity; the G400, a designation given after reaching serial number 1500; and the G300, a shorter range version of the GIV created in 2002

Although many corporations, celebrities, and HNWI’s have traded up to the newer GV, G550, or G650, the G4 is still a staple in luxury aviation for executive groups and celebrity entourages.

Past and/or currently owners of the G4 series include Tom Cruise, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Justin Bieber, Warren Buffett, Wynn Resorts, and many, many more.

No Stairway? Denied?

Okay, so the check from your local cable access show cleared, and you’ve got $5,000 — play the “May I Help You?” riff all you want, but that won’t be enough to buy a G4, let alone rent one for an hour to even get it off the ground.

A good pre-owned GIV is typically priced at around $8 million, with recently refurbished and fully decked out models going well into 8 figures.

Exsqueeze me? Baking powder?

Still, that’s an incredible value in terms of speed, range, comfort, and seating capacity, especially compared to the plane’s original MSRP of between $36 million — $41 million USD.

Can I put the G4 back now, please?

Not today, my good man. You’re feeling saucy, living in the now, and able to afford it. Party on, Wayne!

If an hourly rate of $5,000 is something you can handle, then you’ll be happy to know that’s about where the average cost to charter a Gulfstream G4 starts.

Keep in mind that the hourly rate only rents you the plane; fuel, taxes, and additional fees all add up to create the final price on your charter quote.

And, hourly rates can climb as fast as the GIV itself, reaching as high as $10,000-$12,000/hr depending on the model, amenities, and routing.

Before asking for a charter quote, you should decide on these two things:

  • Where you want to go
    The GIV is best suited for long distance flights, although some brokers can squeeze you into a shorter route. Your destinations will also help to find the best deals, searching the aircraft in each city’s market for your flight.
  • Total passengers and baggage amounts
    Although the GIV can carry up to 18 passengers and offers a ton of storage, a larger, more expensive aircraft may be required if you’re planning loading up the plane. Likewise, it might be the ideal upgrade if you’re traveling with too many passengers/bags for a super midsize jet.

How can I charter one?

Private jet charter brokers offer instant access to G4 private jets located around world without the heavy upfront costs of jet card memberships or fractional ownership.

They also answer to their clients, and not aircraft owners/operators, meaning they can find you the best deal for G4 flight.

In addition to arranging private flights, charter brokers can connect frequent flyers to jet cards and fractional aircraft programs, and offer assistance with G4 sales/acquisitions for HNWI and corporate flight groups.

Here are some example prices based on some of the most traveled charter plane routes for heavy jets:

  • Miami (MIA) to Los Angeles (VNY)
    Flight Time 5 hours, 15 minutes
    One-Way Cost: $35,000–$45,000
  • New York (TEB) to London (EGLF)
    Flight Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
    One-Way Cost: $80,000–$100,000
  • Chicago (MDW) to New York (TEB)
    Flight Time: 2 hours
    One-Way Cost: $20,000–$30,000
  • St. Maartin (TNCM) to Miami (KOPF)
    Flight Time: 3 hours 
    One-Way Cost: $20,000–$25,000
  • Chicago (MDW) to Los Angeles (VNY)
    Flight Time: 4 hours
    One-Way Cost: $32,000–$45,000

* Data courtesy of Avinode and ReadyJetGo. Rates vary depending on the date/routing of your flight, one-way, or round-trip. Landing/ramp fees, fuel prices, and re-positioning can all add to potential costs. Make sure to ask for an all-inclusive quote from your broker.

How else can I get in one?

Some operators offer G4’s in their fleets, however, they’re limited by how many they operate, and where they’re located — unless one happens to be parked at a nearby airport, you may be stuck paying steep re-positioning fees.

Even worse, if you’re taking a one-way flight, you may be charged round-trip pricing, as the plane will need to return for other scheduled flights.

Brokers will be able to view every G4 available for your flight, including transient planes that need to return to their home airport that some poor soul just overpaid for on a one way flight.

If one of these planes matches the routing of your trip, an empty leg flight can save you thousands on the cost of your private jet rental.

Again, always ask your broker for a fully inclusive quote before crossing the t’s and dotting the… lower case j’s.