In this Guest Column, Private Jet Card Comparisons has asked James D. Butler, CEO of Shaircraft Solutions LLC to discuss all those year-end promotions. The following was provided by Mr. Butler and is presented in its entirety.

by James D. Butler

It’s the middle of November and holiday decorations already are popping up. Private jet card providers, like many businesses, are pushing to get deals done by the end of the year. Salespersons have their eyes on quotas and bonuses. As a result, they may urge you to, “Buy now to take advantage of end of the year incentives,” while email solicitations encourage potential customers to “Beat the 2018 Price Increases.” 

 

No one wants to miss out on a good deal, especially one for a big-ticket item like a  jet card. Indeed, some incentives from private jet companies may expire at the end of 2017, but new, and in some cases better, deals most certainly will be available in January. Some pricing no doubt will go up in the new year, but it’s important to remember that in many cases, certain costs like hourly rates and fuel surcharges may increase in January even if you buy now.

 

End of year advertisements that dangle the prospect of holiday trips via a private jet, rather than say the cramped middle seat of a commercial airliner, are enticing, but it is critical to remember that the holidays will include “peak travel days” when you may not be guaranteed access to your private jet, the lead time to make reservations will be longer and you may have to pay a surcharge.

 

All that said, don’t necessarily hold off on making a deal; rather do your homework and don’t rush into a big purchase. The cost of making the wrong deal will far outweigh any year-end benefits and incentives.

 

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you consider any private air travel investment:

 

Know Thyself

 

Make sure that you assess your needs carefully and thoroughly. How many flight hours do you need? Where do you intend to fly? What’s your budget? Do the aircraft offered suit your needs and preferences? What is your time horizon for this investment? Are you guaranteed availability at times of the year when you will want to fly? Do you have any special needs, such as luggage requirements or the ability to fly two flights simultaneously, if say, you’re flying family in from various locations?

 

Identify the Best Type of Program for You 

 

Is a fractional jet card program (in which aircraft are part of a single fleet managed by a single operator) your best bet? Or is a block charter jet card program (in which the jet company doesn’t own or operate aircraft, but rather makes agreements with third-party operators to fly its customers’ flights) more appropriate? Or would a pay-as-you-go charter company best serve your needs?

 

Shop Around 

 

Once you determine the right type of program, shop around to find the provider that best suits your needs and budget.

 

Know the Cost 

 

Use a sharp pencil and estimate the total cost of this investment. Include fuel surcharges, expense increases and remember that, in most cases, your flight time will include six minutes on either end for taxi and take-off, and each flight segment will be billed at a minimum of one hour (even if it is 35 minutes).

 

Read the Fine Print

 

The contracts, and not that beautiful brochure, will govern your rights and obligations. These documents may look simple, but read carefully and make sure you understand them. And, remember that, despite what the salesperson is telling you, certain aspects of these contracts are negotiable.

 

We traditionally close many deals at the end of the year. In doing so, we counsel our clients that there’s always time to be thorough. The same is true for you.

 

James D. Butler is an attorney and CEO of Shaircraft Solutions – a Maryland based consulting firm advising individuals and businesses on investments in private air travel for over twenty years. A foremost private aviation authority, Mr. Butler has in-depth knowledge of the full spectrum of today’s private aviation options, including fractional ownership, jet card programs and charter, and also specializes in fractional share valuation disputes. Shaircraft’s clients range from business executives and retirees to family offices and professional athletes. Mr. Butler can be reached directly at jbutler@shaircraft.com or (301) 652-9885.