The jet card membership program is benefitting from Exclusive Resorts and Bandon Dunes partnerships
StraightLine Private Air, the brainchild of Exclusive Resorts founder Tom Filippini, in June became the private aviation provider for Exclusive Resorts. There was no formal announcement, but Filippini tells Private Jet Card Comparisons members of the residence club get a five percent boost in flight hours, meaning if you join at the $50,000 level, you get $52,500 in your account or $105,000 if you subscribe at the $100,000 level.
Exclusive Resorts in the past has had relationships with Marquis Jet prior to it being purchased by NetJets, a partnership Filippini helped craft. There is not a reciprocal program at this point for StraightLine members as Filippini says his program’s customers already have second homes, a core reason they are coming to the company. He says Exclusive has a separate agreement with Virtuoso agency SmartFlyer to handle commercial aviation needs. “They want to handle all aspects of members’ travel needs, and we are excited they chose us for the private aviation side,” he says.
Filippini, who says he now over 100 customers since his launch this March, says the strength of the program is short-haul flying. “Most programs start at Light Jets and then are focused up to Mid and Super Mid. We’re the opposite, going from Light Jets to VLJs (Very Light Jets), turboprops and even piston aircraft.,” he says.
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There is guaranteed availability but not to specific aircraft types, and sourcing ranges across the Part 135 fleet. In the Private Jet Card Comparisons 65-point comparison, regarding sourcing standards, the company doesn’t use Wyvern or Argus, but instead reports, “StraightLine validates with operators that their aircraft have passed key maintenance checks and that they uphold progressive maintenance on every aircraft. We ensure operators have a modern fleet of aircraft with the latest avionics and safety devices. We require operators to make detailed pilot and crew information available on a regular basis including training records.”
You can request a refund of unused balance at any time, for any reason. There isn’t an escrow account, but Filippini says flight funds are kept in a segregated account. The program doesn’t have peak days, but it recommends 72 hours lead time for reservation during high demand periods and 12 hours otherwise. Rates are based on dynamic pricing and Filippini says the company negotiates with operators to minimize extra charges for each trip.
Filippini tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that StraighLine’s early success reminds him of his experience with Exclusive Resorts. He says, “When we started, we thought it would be about these beautiful homes in amazing locations, and what members valued, even more, was the high level of service we provided.” With StraightLine each member gets a dedicated rep. “We take the time to get to know our customers. We have an extensive orientation so they really understand the program, how to best use it and get the most out of it,” he says.
What is the growth plan? Filipinni says, “Right now, we aren’t set up for thousands of members.” He doesn’t plan any advertising or “sponsoring pro golfers.” He points to a partnership with Bandon Dunes in Oregon, a place that’s hard to reach commercially. StraightLine has been offering on-demand charter for golfers, the resort promotes StraightLine on its website and when it sends confirmations. He says Bandon Dunes guests, impressed by the service, have become a pipeline of customers for his program. Since the late June introduction of StraightLine to Exclusive Resorts members the same thing is happening, so he expects future growth to come from these type of alliances.
In terms of where his customers are coming from, he points to his home state of Colorado, Arizona, California, Texas and South Florida with a focus on short hops. “We have members who are flying intrastate, to their ranch or between Dallas and Houston,” he says. Service area is the Continental U.S., Mexico and Caribbean, however, Filippini says, StraightLine has done flights to Alaska and between islands in Hawaii. “You have to be pretty rich to fly privately to Hawaii,” he quips.
Working at the more affordable level of private aviation with rates sometimes under $2,000 per hour, he says StraightLine has been able to tap into commercial airline passengers. “One of our customers owns several pharmacies. We are attracting a lot of entrepreneurs,” he says.