Primary Service Area is often overlooked when shopping for a jet membership

Jet cards make private travel easy. Once you find the right program, it becomes one call. Fixed rate, guaranteed availability memberships mean you know how much you are going to pay, often with as little as 12 hours of notice. It’s really pretty amazing when you think about it. Being able to get you a jet with legal flight crew within hours to take you wherever you want. It’s the last three words – wherever you want – which are the subject of Jet Card Buyer’s Tip #4 which covers Primary Service Area (PSA).

Why the fine print is important?

PSAs typically refer to programs that have fixed rates and/or guaranteed availability, however, they are sometimes found in dynamic pricing jet card programs as well. PSA is simply an area where specific terms of your contract such as a fixed hourly rate or lead time for reservations and cancellations apply.

When you fly outside your PSA, you may find surcharges, a switch to market pricing, different lead times for both reservations and cancellations, ferry fees and other charges.

Not all jet card PSAs cover the entire U.S.

Most U.S. jet card programs have the continental 48 states as their PSA, although it’s not universal. For example, XOJET’ light and midsize jet card programs are regional with PSAs east of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies, respectively.

In terms of Canada and Mexico, some programs include the entire countries, others only select cities, many with surcharges. It’s fairly typical to see a PSA that extends 220 miles from the U.S. border, which means in the Bahamas some islands are within your PSA while others aren’t.

Some programs like Air Partner, Air Charter Service, NetJets and Sentient Jet have European PSAs in addition to their North American footprints. NetJets includes transatlantic flights in its Gulfstream GIV jet card program. VistaJet’s PSA extends to 95% of the world.

A friend’s recommendation is not enough

I’ve found PSA are sometimes overlooked. Your friend recommends his provider to you. You talk to his sales rep. It sounds great. The rate is good. You sign up, then find while Turks & Caicos where your friend has his house is in the PSA, Barbados where you have your house, is not. You find your fixed hourly rates don’t apply. You might as well be calling a charter broker. In other words, when buying a jet card, make sure the Primary Service Area covers the area where you plan to do most of your flying.

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