Many savvy private aviation users assume all jet cards are pretty much the same. I can tell you they are not, and while there are many good choices, the right choice depends on your needs.
Private Jet Card Comparisons is the only independent buyer’s guide analyzing over 100 jet card membership and prepaid jet charter programs across 65 variables. Programs vary from standards for sourcing pilots and airplanes to policies on flying unaccompanied minors, discounts for round trip flying, the ability to access two planes simultaneously, refund and refill policy, what they do with the money you send them and more. Below are some common mistakes people make when buying a jet card.
- Have you mapped your expected trips versus the service area of the programs you’re considering?
Anticipating as best possible where you expect to fly privately before buying a jet card can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Going outside your service area can mean adding big charges from ferry fees and surcharges to your hourly rate as well as paying for the travel expenses of flight crews and other charges. Of the over 100 programs Private Jet Card Comparisons studied service footprint varies widely, from the Continental U.S. to worldwide. In some cases, only specific airports are included. For example, NetJets jet card program specifies 16 airports in Canada as being in your service area. The rest are not.
- Do you do a lot of short flights?
Daily minimums in the programs we evaluated range from 48 minutes to 3.5 hours. If you are doing a lot of travel that incorporates a single short flight during a day, you will want to take a look at minimums for both daily and single flights. Otherwise, you might find a one hour flight billed as 90 minutes or more!
- Do you need WiFi?
Not all programs guarantee WiFi and not all private jets have WiFi, so if staying connected is important to you, you need to ask. Don’t assume!
- When will you be traveling?
The number of peak days in the over 100 programs analyzed by Private Jet Card Comparisons varies widely from 0 to 58 peak days. On peak days you will find your lead-time for reservations is longer – up to 7 days as opposed to 10 to 24 hours. Cancellation deadlines are longer as well, and you will also find surcharges for flying on those peak days. If you are planning to do a lot of flying during your specific periods, make sure you calculate the applicable peak days rate or consider a program with less peak days.
- Have you calculated all the fees you will be charged?
Some programs charge membership fees. Make sure you calculate this into your overall hourly rate. Other programs charge you additionally for fuel based on market rates, some programs have annual CPI increase, others bill Federal Excise Tax as additional to your published hourly rate. The amount you will be charged for taxi time varies as well ranging from 0 to 12 minutes per flight segment. Included catering also varies. While these costs are often small, they add up.