Most jet cards offer two very different pricing models, but which one is best?
The genesis of the jet card was to provide a product that gave the user some of the attributes of full and fractional ownership (have an aircraft at your disposal and knowing how much it will cost to fly) while taking away the
Fixed Hourly Rates
When you buy a jet card that carries a fixed hourly rate, as part of your contract, if you book within the lead-time and within the service area stipulated, you know what you will pay in advance. Your jet card has an hourly rate of $6,500. You make a three-hour flight, you know the cost is going to be $19,500 before any extra charges or discounts.
Fixed hourly rates are typically published as one-way rates. What that means is that you won’t be charged ferry fees to get the aircraft to your departure area or back to a base after your flight.
Many jet card companies also publish roundtrip rates or offer efficiency discounts if you make what qualifies as a roundtrip flight. In private aviation speak, that typically means at least two billable flight hours per day on consecutive days starting and returning to the same airport. You’ll also need to stay within the duty time of the flight crew and use the same aircraft. Since your jet card provider doesn’t have the expense of the repositioning flights, they pass along savings to you.
Dynamic pricing is another name for market based pricing, so really not different from calling brokers for on-demand pricing. You might say, if there is no difference from getting quotes from brokers, why would I join a jet card program that uses dynamic pricing?
The answer is generally threefold. Jet cards with dynamic pricing typically have some type of service recovery policy so if for any reason the provider can’t operate your flight, your jet card company will get you a replacement aircraft without an extra charge. In other words, you don’t have to worry about expensive last minute re-quotes.
Secondly, your jet card company has specific sourcing standards for the aircraft it will use. When you call three brokers and get four quotes from each, you have to spend time going through each quote to see who is the operator, what’s the payment and cancellation policy for that aircraft and other restrictions. Other benefits may be access to lifestyle partners, credits you can use against future flights as well as not having to worry about transferring funds for each trip.
Air Charter Service, StraightLine Private Air and Vault Jet each offer a fixed hourly rate cap, and then seek to generate a lower price for that trip. Air Partner allows jet card customers to use their deposits for on-demand flights. That said, there are plenty of other factors that will impact how well each provider can fit your needs, including factors such as daily and segment minimums, fuel surcharges, high-density airport surcharges, primary service area, whether or not deicing is included, the number of peak days and surcharges, as well as various discounts for qualifying roundtrips, longer flights or booking ahead.
Jet Card Pricing Final Thoughts
Dynamic Pricing jet cards are more likely to be interesting if you can plan well in advance and are flying between airports that have a lot of private jet activity, or if you are doing same day roundtrips. That said, what you will pay is hard to predict. Providers say they need to give you competitive rates to what you would get by just shopping brokers or you will quickly leave.
At the same time, for the vast majority of subscribers I speak with one of the drivers in buying a jet card is being able to have a fairly precise idea on how much they are going to be spending. For businesses, it’s critical, but I also talk to readers who use jet cards to fly family members, so knowing what those flights will cost in advance can be a big deal.
If you are flying to or from airports without much private aviation activity, particularly flights that wouldn’t qualify for roundtrip discounts, having a fixed rate is likely going to work to your advantage. One thing to keep in mind is fixed rates mean less without guaranteed availability, something not all card programs provide these days.