JetSmarter has long intrigued the industry as to whether or not it has a sustainable business model. While some memberships start under $10,000, others range over $40,000 meaning members potentially put their money at risk when they sign-up. The offer of free shared shuttle flights on private jets and free empty legs means for many people who can’t afford private jet cards or on-demand private charter, JetSmarter is a cost affordable way to avoid commercial airports. The offer is enticing when one compares an entire year of free flying based on as little as $10,000 to hourly charter rates of $4,000 to $18,000 per hour!
But is JetSmarter too good to be true?
Websites like Flyertalk have seen forum threads where an increasing number of customers are complaining about poor service, new fees and frequent changes of what’s been provided for free and what needs to be paid for. For example, longer shuttle flights, once free, now have surcharges as do helicopter transfers. Members of Flyertalk also complained about and debated the validity of contract clauses that apparently prevent members from making complaints public.
The business has also kept itself in the news with apparently prolific fund-raising, yet there have been more blips. The Verge broke a story that alleged JetSmarter was threatening to charge journalists for demonstration flights if their story wasn’t positive. The CFO resigned and was charged with fraud at a former company. The same website that broke the story about trying to pressure reporters into favorable coverage followed up with a feature story entitled, “Flight Risk.” The on the other side, the relationship with XOJET and having XOJET’s CEO on its board would seem to give JetSmarter a vote of confidence.
Perhaps trying to change the narrative, JetSmarter yesterday announced #CharterHope, a new program that allows members to donate flight credits that will enable vulnerable newborn babies to be transported privately from their birth hospitals to their homes. In a press release, JetSmarter CEO Sergey Petrossov said, “Many families are faced with the risk of traveling through commercial airports, exposing their newborns to busy airport terminals and crowded airplanes, post-surgery. We are committed to providing them with a better way to get back home.”
The current news surrounding JetSmarter brings to the forefront that it makes sense to do due diligence with any private jet programs that require prepayments for flights you will take at some points in the future. Private Jet Card Comparisons provides 62 points of comparison from pilot experience to various taxes and fees across 18 companies and 75 programs, including ownership, company history, and senior management.