Buying a jet card or a prepaid private aviation program has many benefits, mainly not having to go to the bazaar everytime you fly as you would with on-demand charter where you have to not only compare prices, but the standards for the planes and pilots being sourced, repositioning fees, and extras such as de-icing in the winter. With most jet card programs, it also means getting guaranteed availability if you book within a contracted lead time, 24/7 customer support and service recovery.

 

However one mistake buyers make in choosing jet card programs – actually I hate to say this, but they make quite a few I have learned – is they don’t think out where they are going to be flying. This is important because each program has a service area. When you go outside of that service area, you open yourself to not only surcharges but a variety of ferry fees.

 

This was highlighted when Private Jet Card Comparisons last week broke the news that VistaJet was eliminating ferry fees worldwide for program customers by including Australia and South America in its service region. Since the operator doesn’t have any of its over 70 strong fleet of Global Express and Challenger jets based there, it has the expense of positioning them before and after trips. Its explanation for the change in policy is that it now has enough demand with 16 new jets added in 2016 it can accommodate program customers. Customers do pay a surcharged occupied hourly rate, but by eliminating ferry fees, customers can better budget expenses in advance. VistaJet noted ferry fees can range over $100,000!

 

In reviewing the terms of another jet card seller, it was noted that once you go outside the service area, all bets are off in terms of guaranteed availability. “All requests for flights originating or terminating more than 1,000 miles outside of the continental United States shall be subject to availability as determined by (the seller) in its sole discretion,” according to the terms we reviewed.

 

You also can’t just assume that all airports in a region are within your service area. For example, the term sheet we looked at included 17 specific airports in Canada.

 

In addition to a ferry fee based on an hourly rate plus fuel charges to position your plane, you will pay overnight expenses for flight crews, any and all foreign permit, communication, handling, overflight, navigation, and air space, customs, head taxes and similar assessments relating to operation and maintenance. Within the small print, the terms note, you may have to also pay a minimum per diem of nearly $350 per day per crew member and if the provider has to fly crew to or from your flight you could end up paying business class airfare for each of the crew members.

 

In the Private Jet Card Comparisons’ 65-point comparison of now over 100 different private jet card and prepaid charter programs, we cover service area so you can quickly see which providers best fit your flying needs.

About the Author Doug Gollan

I study and write about Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) consumers, luxury travel, the business of luxury and private aviation, particularly jet cards