Private Jet Card Comparisons is the only independent buyer’s guide to jet card programs comparing over 250 programs by more than 65 variables

 

Starting at just 10 hours of travel time and ranging to 100 hours, jet cards have become the hot spot of private aviation, filling the wide gap between time-consuming on-demand charter and full or fractional ownership of aircraft, which is a three to five-year commitment. Since the recession, the number of jet card providers and programs has more than doubled, now with over 35 providers and more than 250 different offerings. What’s more, aircraft owners often buy jet cards when they need supplemental lift and fractional owners use card programs when they need extra flight hours. With Private Jet Card Comparisons, I’ve identified over 65 variables that separate the jet card programs from each other so you can find the programs that best fit your specific flying needs. 

 

Why did I start Private Jet Card Comparisons?

 

I first got interested in jet cards when I was researching them for a Forbes.com article, where I am a contributor. I was struck by how many providers there were. With each page from my Google searches, I would find more companies I wasn’t previously aware of. As I reviewed each site, the amount of information provided varied widely. The only “buyer’s guides” I found were either directly from the jet companies or from a third party working with a couple card companies, capturing data from visitors to its “independent” sites, one that even uses a .org, and then selling the contact information to those companies as buyer leads. Comparisons were limited mainly to the partners who were paying for the leads, and in fact, only covered a fraction of the many variables were addressed.

 

From my previous life having started a magazine that was distributed on private jets, I realized that many affluent consumers like you do not want to put themselves on telemarketing lists or receive ongoing solicitation calls. I figured many of you would want to do some research that provided a comprehensive overview of what’s out there and what the differences are. From my days as the president of a media company, I always put a high value on unbiased third-party research, and so I wanted that to be the foundation of what I am providing on this site.

 

How does buying a jet card vary from chartering?

 

In my experience writing about private aviation, I saw a big difference in how people buy jet cards versus chartering an aircraft or buying a fractional share. Chartering typically entails developing relationships with three or four brokers from the thousands or charter brokers and operators out there. For each trip you let them compete with quotes, although you then have to compare the aircraft and operator behind each quote, check for restrictions that vary by aircraft, including cancelation penalties and always worry about service recovery in the case of mechanicals or a crew shortage. For infrequent users of private aviation, on-demand charter is a way to go. Brokers will say they can beat jet cards in price, although from the tests I’ve done it’s a mixed bag, and even if you buy a jet card, you can still shop for better rates on specific trips if that’s what you want to do. Plus, with jet cards, once you’ve chosen a program you are happy with, it truly is one call or some clicks on your smartphone. Jet cards are as close to the Uber model as I’ve found, plus you get service recovery and you know the standards for sourcing the aircraft and pilots you will be flying with. You also don’t have to worry about transferring money for each trip, and for businesses, jet cards make budgeting and tracking flight expenses much easier. Still, finding good brokers, the best way is to ask friends who fly privately or feel free to email me and I can provide a couple recommendations.

 

How does buying a jet card vary from buying a fractional share?

 

Fractional shares start at 50 hours and contracts range from three to five years. The programs are popular with corporate flight departments that already own aircraft but need supplemental lift and want the quality assurance of fractional providers and know they are going to need a specific number of hours for next several years.

 

I don’t cover fractional ownership in my comparisons because there are two major providers – NetJets and Flexjet – and then three niche players – Nicholas Air, Executive AirShare, and PlaneSense, so hardly the need for a buyer’s guide. What’s more, with fractional ownership it really makes sense to hire a consultant, many who are lawyers who help you navigate through the multiple contracts, legal and tax ramifications, and know what can be negotiated. On the flip side, while finding the right jet card takes some work, the actual buying process is pretty straightforward, something that doesn’t necessarily entail paying $5,000 for a consultant but requires more than just asking a friend who’s flying needs might be different or asking your PA to Google some random companies.

 

How did I select the companies covered in Private Jet Card Comparisons?

 

With Private Jet Card Comparisons, we don’t charge companies to participate. We also don’t accept referral fees, advertisements, advertorials or payments from the companies. This site is funded 100% by subscribers who pay $250 to access the lengthy and detailed spreadsheets detailing policies and fees that span over 65 variables and are divided into chapters as outlined below:

Jet Card Corporate Overview:

  • Company name
  • Date Founded
  • Ownership
  • Additional ownership information
  • CEO contact
  • Headquarters location
  • Employee headcount
  • Website URL
  • Sales contact

Jet Card Product Overview:

  • Jet card name
  • Information for each company program
  • Applicable aircraft for each program
  • Minimum seating for each program category
  • Fleet source (owned, charter, fractional, managed)
  • Program Service Area
  • Additional Service Areas
  • Denomination in hours, dollars, and other ways pricing is structured (mileage, days)
  • Hourly rate by program
  • Is 7.5% FET (Federal Excise Tax) included in rates or extra?
  • Access to helicopters and aircraft not in the program

Jet Card Program Safety Standards:

  • Detailed sourcing standards by company and program
  • ARGUS rating level
  • Wyvern Wingman rating
  • IS-BAO rating
  • Minimum pilot experience

Jet Card Policies:

  • Is their guaranteed availability at a fixed rate?
  • Expiration of funds
  • Refund policy
  • Ability to refill your card at the contracted rate
  • Escrow account option?
  • Escrow account details
  • Amount of liability/risk coverage

Jet Card Program Fees, Surcharges and Discounts:

  • Initiation fees
  • Annual Dues
  • CPI escalator
  • Fuel surcharges
  • De-icing charges
  • Charges for reroutes
  • Diversion charges
  • Other fees you will be charged
  • Taxi time billed per segment
  • Minimum flying time charged per flight
  • Minimum flying time charged per day
  • Roundtrip discounts
  • Roundtrip discount qualifications
  • Additional discounts
  • One-way surcharges
  • Destinations subject to surcharges

Jet Card Travel Planning Policies:

  • Regular lead time for reservations
  • Peak day lead time for reservations
  • Number of peak days
  • Peak days listed by month for each program
  • Number of blackout days
  • Blackout days listed by month for each program
  • Multiple same time aircraft access
  • Regular cancelation deadlines
  • Cancelation deadlines when flying outside of primary service area
  • Peak day cancelation deadlines
  • Ability to upgrade or downgrade aircraft size
  • Blackouts for upgrades and downgrades
  • Interchange fees

Jet Card Travel Policies:

  • FBO choice
  • Inclusion of catering
  • Catering description
  • WiFi guarantee
  • Inflight phone service guarantee
  • Flight attendant inclusion
  • Guarantee enclosed lav on light jets
  • Pet policies
  • In-flight emergency medical support
  • The minimum age for unaccompanied minors

Jet Card Customer Support:

  • Service recovery policy for non-weather delays
  • Customer service hours
  • Lifestyle perks and partnerships
  • Last word

To access our spreadsheet-based comparisons of over 250 programs from more than 25 providers please click here.

About the Author Doug Gollan

I am Founder and Editor of Private Jet Card Comparisons, the only independent buyer's guide to jet card membership programs, and DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly luxury travel e-newsletter for private jet owners. I am also a contributor to Forbes.com