Sky Access features a 24-hour call out compared to 10 hours for Delta’s Jet Cards and all the empty legs you can fly for $8,500 upfront and a $6,000 renewal.
Delta Private Jets has launched Sky Access, a new online membership program that offers members unlimited access to empty leg flights in addition to a fixed hourly rate for regular on-demand private jet travel. Members of Sky Access are able to book empty legs giving them the entire aircraft, not having to share it with others. Membership is priced at $8,500 for the first year and renewal at $6,000.
Sky Access members can book unlimited empty legs, and there is no per-leg cost for empty legs. In speaking with DPJ’s Lauren Davis, director of brand strategy and client experience, she says once you pay for your membership, you can book as many empty legs as you want for free. There might be some fees, such as international taxes and fees, and the downside, like all empty leg travel, is until you are wheels up if the trip goes sideways you are on your own.
Since empty legs are essentially repositioning flights bringing the jet to a full revenue charter, or back to base after dropping offer a revenue charter customer, when the charter customer changes his or her plans, goodbye to your empty leg.
That said, Davis says DPJ had over 6,300 empty legs in the past year, so 526 per month if you are counting. If you are wondering what were the busiest airports for empties, Davis lists off Teterboro, White Plains, Charleston, Palm Beach, Atlanta, Naples, Washington Dulles, Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati.
The Delta Sky Access program also separately offers fixed hourly rates for on-demand charter giving guaranteed availability for domestic flights with 24 hours’ notice on non-peak days.
If you are a DPJ cardholder or shopping for cards, you may say, why should I buy a Jet Card if I can get guaranteed availability and one-way rates without putting down $100,000 or $1 million, Delta’s top tier. Well, there are several key differences. First is lead-time, 24 hours versus 10 hours. Then there are 30 peak dates where availability is not guaranteed. The DPJ Jet Card program has no blackout dates and only 10 peak days, one of the lowest numbers across the over 250 programs we compare. Peak days for DPJ Jet Cards have a call out of 120 hours, so you know you can get a plane on those dates.
Another benefit you don’t get with Sky Access is Delta Diamond Medallion status, something that might be valuable if you fly commercially on routes well served by Delta Air Lines.
Lastly, we compared the Sky Access hourly rates versus the entry-level $100,000 DPJ Jet Card and found the amount of difference varied across jet size categories. For example, a Delta Private Jets’ Light Jet 100k card brings an hourly rate of $5,690 including 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET) compared to $5,995 for Sky Access, or a premium of 5.4% for the new program. With Mid-Size jets, the 100k Jet Card is priced at $7,290 per hour vs. Sky Access at $7,950, a 9.1% premium for the new pay as you go membership program. For the popular Super-Mid category, the variance was $9,650 vs. $10,995 per hour, a 14% premium. For Large Cabin jets, the difference is $13,990 per hour for a 100k DPJ Jet Card vs. $14,400 for Sky Access, so only a 3% premium. However, at the $1 million level, there is a significant difference, to $12,590 per hour, or a 14% premium if you opt for Sky Access.
Delta Private Jets is a management company. In other words, its fleet comes from aircraft it manages for private owners and other companies. The entire fleet of 70+ aircraft is WiFi equipped.
“We are delighted to offer this suite of services and options for our Sky Access members at a reasonable price,” said Gary Hammes, president, Delta Private Jets. “In fact, just one empty leg’s value could be greater than the cost of a full Sky Access membership, making luxury travel affordable and a sound investment for those individuals who don’t want to feel like travelers.”
Davis says the program is a gateway to private jet travel, and we like the combination of empty legs and pay-as-you-go, and we like that you get the entire aircraft for your empty leg. That’s where JetSmarter started, although its entry-level members now only get limited seats per empty leg flight. We also like the fixed rate. It doesn’t mean you need to use it if you can get a better on-demand quote. Unlike its Jet Cards, you can’t use SkyMiles to pay for Sky Access, something Davis tells us actually happens.
In terms of the value of empty legs, they work when you have both time and the knowledge you may end up needing to find your way wherever you are going on your own. In terms of whether or not you should buy a Jet Card or go with this pay as you go option, since DPJ Jet Cards offer refundable options, 24 month terms and rollovers, if you are going to spend the $100,000 or $500,000 in private travel, I really don’t see any advantages in Sky Access over the current Jet Card offerings unless you can use the money better somewhere else. That said, Sky Access is not the same as buying a DPJ Jet Card. You will pay more per hour, have a longer lead time and lose 30 days of guaranteed availability among other differences. As Delta says, Sky Access is an entry-level program. If you want to play the empty leg game.