Vista Global is continuing to put its stamp on its XO brand since merging JetSmarter and XOJET at the beginning of the summer. First, it added JetSmarter’s jet sharing functionality to the former XOJET dynamic jet card pricing memberships.
The move meant that XO Select and Signature memberships could all of a sudden share seats on flights they had booked with their deposits. Elite members who get fixed rates can’t share seats on those flights, but otherwise, get all the perks a JetSmarter member received.
XO also tweaked Select Access and non-member options. In essence, there are two versions of Select Access. But the big news is non-members can now book seats on at least some empty legs.
The former XOJET version of Signature Access still requires a $50,000 deposit and a $250 per month membership fee. It is targeted towards those of you who charter the whole aircraft but fly between 10 and 25 hours per year.
In my opinion, it works best if you are flying on popular routes where the aircraft won’t have to be repositioned to pick you up or after it drops you off, or that ferry flight is short, for example, from Teterboro to Westchester County. With dynamic – or market-based – pricing – those costs have to be baked into your quote.
The second version is priced at a flat $5,000 per year. Until the merger, it was $2,500, JetSmarter having dropped it to that level from $4,950 annually with a $3,000 initiation fee at the time of its launch last year.
That may have been based on JetSmarter’s challenges, which now seem behind it. Many lawsuits have been referred to arbitration, and the $6 million class arbitration settlement seems to have put a lid on the JetSmarter era.
An XO spokesperson tells Private Jet Card Comparisons, “With the creation of XO, the JetSmarter and XOJET memberships were combined into new and improved tiers. Select access is our entry-level membership for customers who typically fly less than 25 hours per year, with an annual fee of $5,000, or should they prefer enrolling with an upfront deposit of $50,000 they would pay $250 per month.
There is also a pay-as-you-go non-member option, something that JetSmarter launched in July 2018. It is targeted to folks who want to buy seats on flights, although they can also start flights as well, and then sell seats. They, of course, are able to charter a full aircraft, however, the main focus is seat sharers.
Two key reasons to join the entry-level membership were that you got lower rates for seats, and you could but seats on empty leg flights. Those two benefits remain, however, non-members can now also buy empty legs posted on a single page of Flight Deal, with worldwide deals.
About selling empty legs to non-members, the spokesperson tells us, “On some flights, yes, but there are empty legs that are reserved for members only.”
XO, like JetSmarter in its final version, sells empty legs on a per-seat basis whereas empty legs usually are sold for the entire aircraft.
Good news, at least when I looked, the deals are actually deals (see below). For example, a seat on a super-midsize Challenger 300 from Dare County Regional Airport (MQI) in Manteo, North Carolina, to Marco Island Executive Airport (KMKY) in Florida is $540.
The closest commercial airports would be Norfolk, Virginia about 102 miles north and Southwest Florida Regional Airport about 45 miles to the north of Marco Island.
So first of all, in this instance, if you were going from the Outer Banks to the popular Gulf resort, this empty leg would be a huge time saver. What’s more the cheapest first-class flight on American Airlines or Delta Air Lines would be $605 and take three hours and fifty minutes compared to one hour and forty-eight minutes on the empty leg.
An empty leg from Houston to Lincoln, Nebraska, is priced at $510 per seat on a Citation X. A nonstop flight on United Airlines for the same date – Aug. 28 – is priced at $530 per seat for first class.
Another empty leg from White Plains, New York to Atlanta on a Citation X is $510 (see below) compared to $587 for a nonstop on Delta.
While these are empty legs, the fares are more than fair.
There was also a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale and another from Fort Lauderdale back up to New York at $995 for non-members. Nonstop fares on Delta and United range from $385 to $674 in first class, however, it may be the first time we’ve seen non-member fares on the route under $1,000.
The XO spokesperson said, “We have a sophisticated AI-driven dynamic pricing model to optimize load factor first and then yield.”
On Aug. 29, there is a Gulfstream GIV from Aspen to Ft. Lauderdale selling seats to non-members at $695 (see below). And on Sept. 2 you can fly from Aspen to Los Angels for $695, also on a GIV. In both cases, members at any XO tier, including the $5,000 Select option would pay $200 less.
We are told, “The Aspen to Van Nuys flight you are seeing is an empty leg. On this occasion, a customer created a shuttle from Fort Lauderdale to Aspen, but sourcing the aircraft all the way through Los Angeles.” She added, “The company has done this in the past frequently.”
By the same token, on 25 of 30 days in September (below), the lowest one-way price when we looked on Aug. 27 was $1,595 with 19 days where the lowest prices are over $3,000.
In terms of the Flight Deals page, not all flights are close in. There is a $295 flight from Hawthorne Field in Los Angeles to Monterey, California on Sept. 20. Members pay $195, and the flight is being operated by Advanced Air LLC on a King Air 350i. Advanced operates has been operating for Surf Air in the Golden State.
There were also flights posted as far out as December, a one-way from Oakland to Nassau in the Bahamas priced at $4,295 by the seat for non-members, or $3,295 for members.
In terms of making empty legs open to non-members and seeing what we believe is more attractive pricing close to the day of departure, the spokesperson said, “We are continuously improving our product and customer experience. Expect to see new features continued to be introduced.”
Stay tuned! Compare XO’s jet card memberships with over 300 programs. Find out more here.