When is a jet card not a jet card? When it’s a turboprop or piston aircraft – which for shorter flights might be the perfect solution

 

The number of jet card programs and providers has more than doubled in the past 10 years in large part because card memberships are the easy way to charter an aircraft – as close to that tap and go Uber analogy many like to use as you can get. What’s more, you can buy jet cards in chunks ranging from five hours up to 100 hours, so you don’t have the three to five-year commitment of buying a fractional aircraft share. Of course, the trick is finding the right program for your needs, and while many programs offer all sizes and shapes of jets, not all programs off turboprop or piston solutions. 

 

Nobody has been more instrumental in driving the acceptance of non-jet jet cards than Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter. A co-founder of the Marquis Jet card before selling it to NetJets in 2010, in 2013 he was back singing the praises of the Beechcraft King Air 350i, which he describes as a driveway equivalent of a Jeep or Rover.

 

Dichter makes the case that on flights under 90 minutes, a good chunk of flying is climbing to or descending from cruising altitude, both of which are done at below maximum speeds. In other words, you might add only 10-15 minutes of actual travel time even though the props are slower. In congested areas, such as the Northeast U.S. where flights are often put into holding patterns or slowed to like speeds, there is no difference between a jet and turboprop, he adds.

 

Another area turboprops can make a lot of sense is when you have a larger group – say eight people flying a 75-minute flight. You might not be able to get eight people into a light jet or even a medium jet, but a King Air 350 or Pilatus PC-12, no problem. What’s more, the daily and segment minimum for turboprops is typically 60 minutes whereas a Midsize or Super Midsize jet might have a 90-120 minute minimum. In other words, going from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a turboprop may be the most cost-effective solution, which brings us to the last point. You can save money in many instances flying a turboprop or piston aircraft.

 

In the table below we’ve highlighted 14 companies that offer jet cards featuring turboprops and/or piston aircraft. We’ve also outlined whether or not each provider offers guaranteed availability (if you call by a specific time, you are guaranteed to get an aircraft) and fixed one-way pricing at contracted rates (so you don’t have to pay ferry charges). Lastly, we’ve provided the starting price for each provider’s turboprop or piston program. Of course, if you want to compare all the companies by more than 65 variables, including safety, aircraft sourcing and pilot standards, as well as peak days, surcharges and other fees, you can subscribe to Private Jet Card Comparisons and you will have full access to our easy-to-use spreadsheets.

 

These 14 jet card programs feature turboprops and/or piston aircraft

 

Jet Card Provider Guaranteed Availability at Contracted Rate Fixed One-Way Rates (No Ferry Fees) Jet Card Price Starting From
Concord Private Jet Yes Yes 10 hours at $37,500
Executive AirShare Yes Yes 10 days
ExpertJet No No $8,000 membership then pay-as-you-go dynamic pricing
Fly Aeolus Yes Yes 15 hours at 10,000 Euros
Luxury Aircraft Solutions Yes Yes 5 hours $21,260
Nicholas Air Yes Yes 15 hours at $74,700
ONEFlight International Yes Yes 25 hours at $85,350
Paramount Business Jets No No $50,000 dynamic pricing
PrivateFly No No $50,000 dynamic pricing
Silverhawk Aviation Yes Yes $100,000 with fixed pricing
Star Jets International No No $50,000 dynamic pricing
StraightLine Private Air No No $50,000 dynamic pricing
Unity Jets No No $25,000 dynamic pricing
Wheels Up Yes Yes $17,500 membership plus pay-as-you-go $4,495 per hour

Source:  Private Jet Card Comparisons comparison of turboprop jet cards

 

 

 

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