Searches for jet cards based on price or cost bring up first page results that date back to 2006, and what’s more, many of the prices you see at first glance don’t include a myriad of fees and extra charges

 

Beyond brand searches for NetJets, Wheels Up, Marquis Jet (it’s now a brand owned by NetJets), JetSuite or Jet Suite, Delta Private Jets, XOJET, Flexjet, Sentient Jet and a few others I was surprised when somebody recently showed that many jet card related searches are based on words like price and cost, and even lowest price. Having spent in large part over the past two years in the deep end of the jet card pool, price, in my opinion, is only moderately relevant. 

 

To get started, and get it off the table, the hourly rates that you will find when you Google, Yahoo or Bing search only tell a relatively small slice of the story. With all due respect to the search engines, the pricing they pull up is often as much as five years old. One of the top results for pricing actually dates back to 2006!

 

The first prices you see are often not close to what you will pay. While some jet card providers market prices that include the 7.5% Federal Excise tax, catering, all fuel expenses, and lock in your price, others show a base price that is much lower than you will end up with when you get your first invoice. Some prices you find and look good don’t include FET, and have extra charges for fuel as well as CPI escalators. Some also charge for catering while some programs include deicing and others don’t. Some programs have membership fees and dues which you would need to factor into your projected flight hours and then add to your hourly rate.

 

There are also can be surcharges for traveling on peak days and even to high-density airports. Some programs have surcharges around weekends with big sporting events such as The Super Bowl even if you aren’t attending. Others have fees directly related to flying to these confabs.

 

When I put together Private Jet Card Comparisons, my goal was to give a holistic view of the card providers and programs. With 39 jet card sellers and 296 programs in the database, and being able to talk to jet card buyers on a daily basis, I am more convinced than ever that simply looking at the hourly rate is a mistake.

 

Below are some of the more than 65 variables you can use Private Jet Card Comparisons that go beyond comparing just the hourly charter price, and of course hourly rates are included:

  • Company history, including date founded, ownership structure, headquarters location, the name of CEO and number of employees

  • All jet cards offered by each company, over 250 programs

  • Applicable aircraft for the programs

  • How the program is structured, be it hours, dollars or mileage

  • Hourly rate, including whether or not the 7.5% Federal Excise Tax (FET) is included

  • Program service detailing where your rates apply

  • Additional areas served at dynamic prices

  • Seating capacity for each program

  • How aircraft are sourced, including the standards for each program, ratings from third-party safety programs, including ARGUS, Wyvern Wingman and IS-BAO

  • Minimum pilot experience, including total hours and hours in aircraft type, based on program requirements

  • Are hourly rates guaranteed or are flights price dynamically

  • Expiration of hours

  • Refund policy

  • Ability to refill your card at the contracted rate

  • Availability of escrow account to house advance payments

  • Amount of liability and risk coverage

  • Initiation and membership fees

  • CPI escalators, rates and frequency applied

  • Fuel surcharges

  • De-icing charges

  • Charges for diversions and ATC reroutes

  • Taxi time billed per segment

  • Minimum flying time billed per day and per segment

  • One-way surcharges or ferry fees

  • Other fees and charges you may be billed

  • Peak days, including listing of peak days for travel planning, and peak day surcharges

  • Blackout days, including the list of blackout dates

  • Destinations subject to surcharges

  • Roundtrip discounts and definition of qualifying roundtrips

  • Lead time for reservations, including peak and regular days

  • Cancellation deadline, including peak and regular days

  • International reservations and cancellations deadlines

  • Ability to access multiple aircraft at the same time

  • Ability to upgrade or downgrade the size of aircraft, including additional fees and peak day availability

  • Ability to select your favorite FBO

  • What catering is included

  • Guaranteed WiFi availability

  • Guaranteed in-flight phone service

  • The inclusion of flight attendants on heavy jets

  • Guarantee of fully enclosed toilet on light jet programs

  • Pet transport policies and surcharges

  • Minimum age when sending unaccompanied minors

  • Service recovery policies for non-weather related delays

  • Customer service hours of operation

  • Lifestyle partnerships and perks

  • Key program selling points

Choosing the best jet card program for your needs!

If you are shopping for a jet card, I would welcome you to become a subscriber. Our new VVIP JET CARD DECIDER tool helps us help you. By filling out the worksheet and sending it to us, we’ll sort through the various programs and identify the ones that best meet your unique flying needs, avoiding costly fees for flights that don’t meet daily and segment minimums and helping steer you away from peak days and other extra fees.

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