JET CARD INSIDER – Magellan Jets Charts A Different Course From Other Broker Jet Cards

By Doug Gollan, November 10, 2017

Magellan Jets offers both category and aircraft specific jet card membership programs and features a safety program that goes beyond the third-party rating agencies


The number of jet card sellers continues to expand, powered by broker-based programs. Broker cards source aircraft from the more than 7,000 aircraft in the FAA Part 135 approved charter fleet, whereas operator cards mostly use aircraft their company either owns or manages. I say mainly because during peak periods many operators have to go outside their fleet to source lift. While there are multiple variances between every card program, those of you who prefer operator programs tend to cite being able to buy a specific aircraft type instead of category and operational oversight of planes and flight crew. 


Amid broker programs, Magellan Jets is carving a niche by offering aircraft specific jet cards in addition to category cards. It also claims a significant internal safety oversight program that goes beyond using the usual third-party rating systems. If you are a novice, we’ve found Magellan has a helpful library information on its site, including pilot and passenger reports on various aircraft type, tips for on-demand charter (which it also sells), the risks of empty legs, private aviation white papers and a “Build Your Own Jet Card” function that is fun to play around with.


Faster Jets Can Save Thousands Of Dollars For Jet Card Buyers


Magellan acknowledges that covering all of your bases when trying to find the best program for your needs is not easy. “Peeling back the onion, it’s not just the hourly rate. How do you bill flight time? If you are using slower planes, it’s not apples to apples. When we choose the aircraft in our programs, we try to look at what’s popular and versatile in a category,” says Anthony Tivnan, president of Magellan. He sites the Hawker 400XP of which he says, “It’s faster…what programs don’t talk about is the arbitrage of speed and the difference that makes” in cost when charged by flight hours. Tivnan says compared to other jets in the category, you can save between 10 and 20 minutes per flight. “If that’s something a customer does 10 times a year, it’s a three-hour swing” which can mean around $15,000 in savings.


Tivnan says Magellan has invested in a significant safety oversight program to monitor the operators it uses and sources from what the company calls the Magellan Jets Preferred Network. There is a 42-point safety inspection performed on every aircraft for every flight. “The way we view safety is in layers. ARGUS, Wyvern, IS-BAO are all third-party auditing firms providing data. That’s one layer. We don’t say these guys are (ARGUS) Platinum (so) they’re approved. We have an internal flight support team led by a pilot with over 10,000 hours. He and his team use these third-party reports. We also use insurance reports. We use incident reports from FAA. An operator can be rated (by a third party) and still have infractions. They didn’t have accidents but they have infractions. It’s having the right people who can analyze the data,” says Tivnan.


How much does a Magellan jet card cost?


Hourly rates start at $3,960. In terms of the programs, Magellan has Light, Midsize, Super-Mid, Hawker 400XP, Hawker 800XP, Challenger 300 and Challenger 604/605 memberships, each offered at 25, 50 and 100 hours. All of its programs provide guaranteed availability at contracted rates, hours do not expire, there are no initiation or membership fees, and no CPI escalators. Payments are non-refundable, however, there is an escrow account option.


Hourly rates don’t include the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET) and carry fuel surcharges, which range from $393 to $582 per hour. Taxi time is billed at 12 minutes per segment, pretty standard. There is a peak day surcharge of 15% covering 21 days. While normal call-out is only eight hours, tied as best among programs with guaranteed availability, reservations lead time for peak days is on the long side at seven days. Tivnan says that is because sourcing jets from a narrower section of the charter fleet (its Magellan Preferred Network) means it has less inventory to choose from during high demand periods. There’s a 10% discount for qualifying roundtrips. There is also same time access for multiple aircraft. Magellan guarantees recovery and provides an update every 10 minutes or less until recovery is resolved. The company says it also has standby aircraft for time-sensitive events such as funerals. Magellan is one of the few programs that has no free catering included, which may or may not be important to you. Also, you can’t send your kids alone. You’ll need at least one passenger 18 years or older.


Speaking about its “Build Your Own Jet Card” feature Tivnan says, “Consumers have access to a lot of information and they like to educate themselves before having a real conversation. (The tool) drives a lot of activity. It kicks (the information) back to us and gives us an idea of what to speak about (with the consumer).”


Tivnan says the purpose of the feature is not to sell jet cards online. “It’s not a buy it now feature, but helps the customer think about what’s available to them because it’s not off the shelf cookie cutter.” He said it also enables buyers to think about choosing programs not just based on passengers, but how much luggage, including extras such as strollers, skis, golf bags, diving equipment an so on, something private aviation novices may not have considered.


The function enables users to add options, including WiFi, catering, fuel surcharges, and then compare pricing. “Instead of feeling nickeled and dimed, we show it all up front, like a vehicle has a base price, and then you can customize it how you want it and based on what you want to pay for,” says Tivnan.


Magellan recently re-launched its corporate travel membership program, which we detailed here. The company also runs a fairly steady stream of promotions and has a number of offers running during the fourth quarter which you can read more about here. You can compare Magellan’s programs against over 100 other jet card membership programs by subscribing to Private Jet Card Comparisons here.


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