One of the benefits of private jet travel is it makes every weekend a long weekend, which can make those summer getaways even more fun, memorable and frequent.
For example, reaching popular getaway spots along coastal Maine, Nantucket, Cape Cod, the Hamptons, or Napa, and Santa Barbara are often 30 to 90-minute flights instead of drives which can take five to 10 hours or three to five hours flying commercially when you account for airport time. An analysis by Private Jet Card Comparisons shows how pro golfers save days of travel time by flying privately.
In other words, you can leave your office in Manhattan at 5 pm and be at dinner in Martha’s Vineyard by 6:30 pm with most of the time getting to the airport. Flight time on a light jet is just 29 minutes (below).
Driving can take seven hours each way. In other words, driving would mean getting there tired after midnight and worrying about beating the traffic coming home. You would spent about a quarter of your weekend on the road.
Looking at random Fridays over the summer, the latest nonstop departure to Martha’s Vineyard on a scheduled carrier is 1:57 pm from JFK, likely meaning heading to the airport at 11 am if you are in Manhattan, in essence, making Friday a travel day.
The same goes for many of the great summer lake and mountain destinations across Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and throughout Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas where flying can turn a five-hour drive into an extra day of vacation fun on each end of your trip.
Of course, on-demand charter is an option, and if you have a good local operator or a really good broker, it might make sense, particularly if there isn’t a need to reposition the aircraft after it drops you off, although then you will end up covering costs for the pilots to stay over.
The difference, of course, is that if you are shopping for operators or with different brokers, each trip request will probably get you 10 different quotes.
That means you then need to spend time checking out each operator to make sure it conforms to any preferences you have for safety standards for airplanes and operation as well as pilot experience. You also need to be wary of illegal charters.
So, unless you already have a great solution, shopping for on-demand charter probably will take at least an hour for each trip. If you are thinking about heading to a favorite summer spot on a weekly basis, chartering for each trip can be a bit of a hassle, particularly if you have a busy work schedule.
Lastly, with on-demand charter, for the most part, if there is a mechanical or a pilot gets sick, you need to get the last minute re-quote, which can also change the standards of pilots and planes available, as well as cost more money. In other words, you may just decide to cancel that trip.
While critics of jet cards say they can beat pricing by shopping the on-demand market, our research has shown it’s 50-50, and you may find the savings you picked up on the last three flights, you give back on the fourth flight when your operator has a mechanical and you need to get back Sunday night for that Monday board meeting.
Jet cards with fixed rates and guaranteed availability allow you to reserve your flight with a call, email, smartphone and desktop booking, or even a text and know what you will pay for so you don’t break the budget. Many jet cards also allow you to select the size of aircraft you need for each trip, so for one trip maybe it’s a light jet and another when you have a bigger group, a large cabin aircraft.
If you use a deposit jet card, you don’t have to worry about transferring money. You also know what the trip will cost you, as you would have researched the program’s rules before buying.
The goes for pilot experience, and the type of airplane you will be flying, as it was part of the contract you signed. Lastly, most jet cards offer guaranteed recovery which means except for the weather, they will get you where you are supposed to go with no extra charges.
Jet card lead-time to make reservations (outside of peak days) is typically eight to 72 hours, so you don’t have to plan in advance. Also, cancellation policy can often be under 24 hours, so if plans change, you won’t have penalties.
One thing to keep in mind is daily and segment minimums. If you are making short flights look for programs that have minimum daily flight requirements that fit your summer vacation destinations.
You will also find a jet card to suit any needs you might have. Jet cards today start at as few as five hours although 25 hours might well be a good number that also covers Thanksgiving and Festive Season holiday trips. If that’s going to be the case, take a look and see which programs including deicing, another benefit you get with some jet cards not available with on-demand charter.
About 40% of Private Jet Card Comparisons subscribers had been using on-demand charter and became interested in jet cards after some of the downsides I mentioned. If you haven’t considered a jet card before, the summer might be a good time to look into it. For subscribers who use our VIP Jet Card Decider service, we can also recommend whether or not jet cards are a good fit for you.