While there are reasons to use jet cards and on-demand charter, there are a number of key selling points for jet cards

 

The age-old question of jet cards versus on-demand charter sees advocates of each dig their heels in. While many jet card providers also sell on-demand charter, many brokers only sell ad-hoc charters and don’t offer a jet card membership option. Their main arguments against jet cards are tying up your money with six-figure deposits and the promise of better pricing. They rightfully point out you need to do due diligence about the financial stability of the company you are giving that money to, or at least make sure there is an escrow account. At the same time, consumers have lost money through bankruptcies of on-demand charter operators.

 

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Many private aviation users have multiple solutions, just like one has multiple types of financial investments in their portfolio. In terms of the advantages jet card programs bring, here are some of the most important ones:

 

  1. Jet cards are easy to use. Once you’ve found a card program that meets your needs, booking is one phone call, email or tap on the app while booking charters as you go means price and aircraft comparisons for each trip, some negotiating with multiple brokers and transferring funds.
  2. You know what you are going to pay ahead of time. Many jet cards have fixed hourly rates making it easier to budget your travel.
  3. You know you will get the type of airplane you want at the rate you expected. Guaranteed availability means with many programs you only need to book as little as 10 hours prior to departure.
  4. No ferry fees. Virtually all jet cards include any expenses to get the plane and crews to you as long as you are flying in your Primary Service Areas. If you are flying from, to or between lesser used airports, this can save you a lot of money.
  5. Jet card hourly rates often include things that will be charged extra with an on-demand charter, such as FBO fees, airport fees, hangar charges, catering, Wifi usage inflight and depending on the program deicing which can run as much as $10,000 per incidence.
  6. Jet cards typically provide a service guarantee that covers the cost of a replacement aircraft if there is a mechanical, pilots run out of time because of previous delays, or even if a pilot calls in sick. When you charter on a trip-by-trip basis, you need to get a new quote, and last minute prices can be quite high. In most cases, it’s up to you to cover the difference.
  7. Multiple same time aircraft. Most card programs will allow you to have multiple planes in use at the same time. For a company, using a fixed rate, guaranteed availability jet cards makes budgeting easier and provides a de facto flight department by providing multiple aircraft at the same time.
  8. Jet cards are pet-friendly. Most jet cards are pet-friendly, so they will automatically source an aircraft that allows pets if you advise them at the time of booking. While charter brokers can sometimes beat jet card prices, the more criteria you give them, the less inventory, the higher your cost. Asking for a jet with Wifi that accepts pets from a Wyvern Wingman or Argus Platinum operator will drive up your charter pice quotes.
  9. Many jet card providers are buying in bulk. Even fleet operators have to buy charter flights when they can’t serve cardholders with their own aircraft. In some cases, they prepay to have aircraft available from other operators. Either way, that buying power can give bigger players extra clout to get you an aircraft when you need it, where you need it, at a specified price.
  10. You don’t have to use your jet card for every trip. In many cases, jet card funds don’t expire, which means when you have trips better served via on-demand charter, you can keep you jet card in your wallet.

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