Jet Card Aircraft Options 101, including pricing and costs

Light Jet, Large Cabin Jet, Turboprops, or specific types such as the Embraer Phenom 300?

Your guide to finding the perfect cabin category, or private jet (and turboprop) specific Jet Card for your needs

Jet cards are the fastest-growing segment of private jet charter. Over the past decade the number of companies offering jet memberships more than doubled.

Private Jet Card Comparisons has cataloged over 55 providers, including all the key players such as NetJets (both Elite and Marquis Jet card), Flexjet, Sentient, Wheels Up, Delta Private Jets, JetSuite, Jet Linx, VistaJet, PJS Group, Magellan Jets, and XO. In total, there are more than 300 programs so you can find the right one.

We’ve identified over 65 variables that can impact your selection. We’ve also made it easy to compare, cutting research time by weeks and days to less than an hour. You have over 18,000 data points at your fingertips.

In terms of features, some programs allow you to upgrade or downgrade cabin size for each trip. You have access to the right type of aircraft for each mission. Others allow you to select specific aircraft types.

charter flight cost
Jet cards are a form of private jet charter, and costs vary widely. There are over 300 jet card programs, doubling over the past 10 years.

In either case, doing research before buying is important. If you buy into a program because you compared Midsize Jet rates, and then find out most of your flying will be on Light or Large Cabin jets, you may have bought into the wrong program! It could cost you 10s of thousands of dollars more than neeeded!

Quick Compare Jet Card Flight Pricing

All pricing for flight costs in this report comes from Private Jet Card Comparisons’ exclusive Quick Compare Flight Pricing. It allows you to compare all-in pricing across over 200 fixed-rate, guaranteed availability programs in seconds!

To build the pricing model, we’ve incorporated Federal Excise Tax, membership fees, fuel and peak day surcharges, taxi time charges, daily and segment minimums, as well as whether or not deicing is included in the price.

Here’s an overview of options when it comes to choosing aircraft related to fixed-rate, guaranteed-availability jet cards.

Turboprop Jet Cards

When to buy:

Turboprops are best for short trips with 7 or 8 passengers. They are also great for accessing convenient airports where the runways aren’t long enough for jets.

Lowest Turboprop Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$4,838 for the flight

Lowest Turboprop Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$8,869 for the flight

Key considerations for Turboprops:

There are a limited number of programs that offer turboprops as part of their jet card programs. Three of the most notable are Wheels Up (King Air 350i), Nicholas Air, and Tradewind Aviation. The latter two offer the Pilatus PC-12, although Tradewind doesn’t offer guaranteed availability.

Turboprops are optimal for flights under 500 miles, with shorter distances preferred. That’s because on climb and descent as well as once you get into air traffic patterns around congested airports, jets lose their speed advantage. The longer the flight, the more the speed advantage to the jet.

As two examples, Wheels Up offers a pay-as-you-go program. You join for $17,500 in the first year and $8,500 annually thereafter. Nicholas Air charges $5,280 per hour and starts at 15 hours, so $79,200, not including 7.5% Federal Excise Tax. It also offers the PC-12 on its Smart Jet Card, which is $10,000 and then $5,650, plus FET, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Several brokers also offer turboprop fixed-rate programs as well.

Turboprops really show their value on short trips where you have seven or eight passengers. For example, to fly eight people, you typically would need a Midsize or Super Midsize Jet. That means $7,000 to $9,000 per hour, in some cases nearly twice the price as a turboprop.

Keep in mind, when you see hourly rates quoted for Super Midsize jets, they often carry 90-or 120-minute minimums. That means a 50-minute flight at $9,000 per hour might end up being charged as much as $18,000.

Another key reason to choose a turboprop is that the jet type you need can’t access the most convenient airport. In other words, a faster jet would still be slower because you need to use airports farther away from where you are going.

Turboprops – Be On The Lookout:

Many turboprops only require one qualified pilot. Make sure that your vendor is crewing your flights with two type-rated pilots. As an example, Wheels Up pilots are both rated to be PICs, Pilot-in-Command.

When comparing turboprop options, take extra time to understand who will be flying you and their standards for operations, including the pilots who will fly you.

Very Light Jet (VLJ) Jet Cards

When to buy:

Very Light Jets are best for 1-2 passengers for trips under 750 miles.

Lowest Very Light Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$5,364 for the flight

Lowest Very Light Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$11,054 for the flight

Key considerations for Very Light Jets (VLJs)

Very light jets, like turboprops, are becoming harder to find in jet card programs. Airshare and Nicholas Air are the only two operators currently offering fixed-rate, guaranteed availability on VLJs. Charter brokers Airstream Jets and OneFlight also offer them.

In the case of Airshare and Nicholas Air, they offer Embraer’s Phenom 100, the smaller sister of the best selling Phenom 300.

It’s a bit of a twist from the early 2000s. Back then pundits thought the skies would be filled with VLJs. Operators like DayJet ordered hundreds before closing the shop.

Still, a VLJ is a good aircraft if you are flying alone or with one or two other people – although in some cases you will see them configured to seat up to five passengers. The range can be up to 1,000 miles, but depending on weather conditions and load, it can be significantly less.

Very Light Jets – Be On The Lookout:

You can find larger Light Jets from established providers for prices similar to VLJs as well as lower-cost options. Also, make sure a VLJ has enough luggage space for your needs!

Light Jet Jet Cards

When to buy:

Flights with up to 6 passengers, typically under 1,500 miles

Lowest Light Private Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$5,519 for the flight

Lowest Light Private Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$10,170 for the flight

Key considerations for Light Jets

With most cabin category jet card programs, a Light Jet option will guarantee six passenger seats, although a few will guarantee seven seats.

That’s important, because you may fly on light jets configured with seven or eight seats. However, according to the terms of your contract, your provider only has to provide you a six-seat jet.

If you are often traveling with larger parties, that might mean having to pay up for a Midsize or Super Midsize jet. In other words, you need to look at the fine print. For paid subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons, it is one of the 65+ variables we track.

However, there’s more than just how many seats you need.

The range of Light Jets also varies widely. Conklin & de Decker reports that a Hawker 400XP has a range of 1,519 nautical miles with four passengers. With a full load that drops to 1,119 nm (Multiply by 1.15 to get statue miles).

Subscribers to Private Jet Card Comparisons give you a sortable spreadsheet comparing the range, cabin size, jet speed, baggage space, and more for over 150 private jet types.

For at 951 nm from Teterboro to Kansas City, with headwinds and a full load, some Light Jets might require a fuel stop or you would need to upgrade to a costlier Mid Jet.

At the same time, the Phenom 300, with four passengers, has a range of 2,077 nm and even full can fly 1,811 nm.

Pricing also varies widely. For example, according to Private Jet Card Comparisons’ Quick Compare Flight Pricing, hourly rates for a Light Jet start as low as $4,623 per hour, including FET.

However, you need to also consider your trip. That low rate comes with a 90-minute minimum. In other words, a 45-minute flight would be charged at $6,934.

On the other hand, using Sentient which has a 60-minute minimum as an example, including taxi time would price at $5,519, its FET-inclusive hourly rate.

Light Jets – Be On The Lookout:

When buying into a program for its Light Jet category rates, make sure that the aircraft types the provider offers will fit your mission.

Also, check Daily and Segment Minimums. A lower Hourly Rate might end up costing you more.

If you are not sure a Light Jet fits your needs, it may simply mean you need to compare pricing for Midsize aircraft.

It may also mean looking at a program that offers a dedicated aircraft type that does fit your needs. The Embraer Phenom 300 is expensive compared to Light Jet cabin category rates. They are also generally cheaper than Midsize Jets cabin rates, have midsize jet range, and some vendors guarantee seven seats. I cover when to buy aircraft specific Jet Cards at the end.

Midsize Jet Jet Cards

When To Buy:

Midsize Jet Cards typically guarantee seven seats and have a longer range than Light Jets; Many Mid Jet fliers could fly Light Jets, they just prefer a bit more space, particularly headroom.

Lowest Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$7,350 for the flight

Lowest Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$12,271 for the flight

Lowest Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 180 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$18,576 for the flight

Key considerations for Midsize Jets:

If you typically fly with seven passengers, when buying a cabin category jet membership, you will likely need a Midsize or Mid Jet as the category is referred.

Again, range varies widely. M advice is before you speak to jet card companies know what trips you plan to fly and how many people. Also, figure out if there is excess luggage, particularly golf bags and skis. The more information you can provide, the easier it is for your rep to make sure his or her company can fulfill your needs.

In terms of range, a full Learjet 45 has a range of 1,573 nm while a Learjet 60 with just four passengers can fly 2,418 nm, according to Conklin. So when you buy a category card, it’s not only the aircraft that might fly you but how many people you are flying.

The difference between a Midsize and Super Midsize jet card for 25 hours can easily be $30,000 or more.

And when it comes to price, again beware stopping with just comparing hourly rates. Some jet card programs have 90 and 120-minute minimums on their Mid Jet memberships, while others are at 60 minutes.

Considering 80% of all private flights in the U.S. are under two hours, what you end up paying can be an unpleasant surprise if you don’t also consider the applicable minimums.

Midsize Jets – Be On The Lookout:

If you are a tall person, Midsize Jets can provide up to a foot more cabin height. For example, a Cessna CJ3 Light Jet has a cabin height of 4.75 feet. Its Midsize cousins, the Citation Excel/XLS series have a cabin height of 5.7 feet. Even though a Light Jet may suit your mission, you may want a bit more space. It makes a difference when you are using the lav!

Also, make sure the Segment and Daily Minimums match your flying needs. Otherwise, you will be paying for short legs, flights where the minimum is higher than your actual flight time.

Super Midsize Jet Cards

When To Buy:

Many Super Midsize Jets have a coast-to-coast range, standup cabins, and Jet Cards will guarantee eight-passenger seats. Super Mids often give you a cabin where you can walk around easily. It makes them a great choice for vacation trips with the family as well as business trips with clients.

Lowest Super Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$10,000 for the flight

Lowest Super Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$16,786 for the flight

Lowest Super Midsize Private Jet Flight Price – 180 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$25,179 for the flight

Key considerations for Super Midsize Jets:

When one thinks of private jet travel as being luxurious, in addition to efficient and convenient, the “luxe feel” part of the equation really starts in the Super Midsize category.

New Super Midsize private jets like the Embraer Praetor 600 are extending the range to connect the U.S. and Europe. Some programs include a flight attendant on Super Mids, others offer it as an add-on option.

However, when it comes to buying a Jet Card to access a Super Midsize aircraft, you will often find yourself on a mixed bag of types, varying from the super-fast Citation X to spacious Challenger 300/350s or the Gulfstream 200.

With Super Midsize, you will find most providers minimums of 90 minutes, and even 120 or 150 minutes.

While many folks assume NetJets is more expensive, that’s not necessarily the case. With 60-minute minimums, including taxi time, or Hawaii in the PSA for specific cards, you will actually find they are very competitive with several cards. And then if you factor in that deicing is included, you actually could end up saving money.

Super Midsize Jets – Be On The Lookout:

Keep in mind, Super Midsize is not an official breakout. It’s a marketing category, a sub-category of Midsize Jets, typically between 30,000 or 31,000 and 41,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight.

It means that again, as you narrow down the choices, make sure to understand relevant aircraft your provider will offer. Pricing by category drives rates down by enabling providers to use a variety of aircraft to fulfill your flights. Still, not all Super Mid jets are created equal.

There are fixed-rate programs between specific city pairs to consider. XO recently added a 3.5-hour rate cap providing a $31,400 all-in price on its Citation X fleet. It’s slightly higher for the Challenger 300. It’s valid for travel to the Caribbean and Mexico as well.

Don’t forget to compare minimums! Again, it’s something you can easily access for over 55 providers and more than 300 programs as a subscriber.

Large Cabin Jet Cards

When To Buy:

There are only a few Jet Card programs that provide intercontinental fixed-rate, guaranteed availability flights via a card membership. That means most Jet Card buyers are going to large-cabin jets for range or seating needs.

You have flights to the deep Caribbean. Or you have seating needs, generally nine or more passengers, typically with a guarantee of at least 10 passenger seats.

Another reason is the headroom. Virtually all large-cabin jets have cabins at least six feet tall and are also wide, so much more spacious.

Lowest Large Cabin Private Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$12,000 for the flight

Lowest Large Cabin Private Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$20,156 for the flight

Lowest Large Cabin Private Jet Flight Price – 180 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$30,234 for the flight

Key considerations for Large Cabin Jets

Large cabin jets vary widely by program. For example, most programs group all large cabin and ultra-long-range jets together. You might get anything from a Bombardier Challenger 605 or Dassault Falcon 200 with a range for six to seven hours of flight time to a Gulfstream G650 that can fly over 12 hours nonstop.

Large Cabin flights typically guarantee at least 10 seats. On peak days, it could be nine seats, so again, if you can’t avoid peak days, something to consider.

Large Cabin Private Jets – Be On The Lookout

Since large cabin program guarantees range between nine and 12 passenger seats, if you are planning to fill the plane, make sure you compare how many seats you know you will be getting. If you have 12 people and your program only guarantees 10 seats, you may need to get a custom quote for that flight

If you are making trips under two hours – after checking hourly rates, check daily and segment minimums. A couple of 60-minute flights with a 120-minute minimum will cost you over $20,000, making a lower hourly rate more expensive.

Ultra Long-Haul Jet Cards

When To Buy

Jet Cards with Ultra Long-Haul Jet pricing are best when you need at least 12 passenger seats and are flying at least two hours.

Lowest Ultra Long Range Private Jet Flight Price – 60 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$30,014 for the flight

Lowest Ultra Long Range Private Jet Flight Price – 120 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$30,014 for the flight

Lowest Ultra Long Range Private Jet Flight Price – 180 minutes on a non-peak day without deicing

$45,021 for flight

Key considerations for Ultra Long Range Jet Cards

When it comes to Ultra Long-Haul Private Jets, most options that provide decent pricing require at least 50 hours per year and multi-year commitments, including fractional ownership and leases.

Ultra Long-Haul Jet Cards – Be On The Lookout:

If you are buying a Jet Card to access Ultra Long-Haul private jets, make sure the Primary Service Area matches where you want to fly. Some fixed rates programs are valid only for travel within the Continental U.S.

Jet Specific Jet Cards

When To Buy:

A specific jet type meets the needs for all or the vast majority of your missions or is a supplemental solution. Also, when looking at Cabin Category Jet Cards, you can’t find a solid fit.

Key considerations for Jet Specific Jet Cards

Most private jet specific options come from fractional and owned fleet operators such. That includes Airshare, Dumont Group, Flexjet, Grandview Aviation, JetSuite NetJets, Nicholas Air, Silverhawk Aviation, Vistajet, and XO.

There are also brokers that offer jet specific Jet Cards as well. They include OneFlight, Magellan Jets, Alliance Aviation, and StarJets International.

All options are in our database, enabling you to compare specific types, such as the Phenom 300, Challenger 300/350, Falcon 2000, and others.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out where you plan to fly is the first move I recommend when shopping for the right jet card. Then think about how many people you will be bringing. Also, how often you will need to bring more people, and what’s the most people you will bring?

After that, you can start looking at hourly rates factoring in daily and segment minimums. Make sure you aren’t going to be paying for short legs.

There are of course other factors, such as whether you not you require Wi-fi, if you will be bringing pets, if you can avoid peak days, and if not, what are the restrictions, including the lead time to book or cancel, and so forth.

Private Jet Card Comparisons tracks over 65 variables, including company background and sourcing standards.

Many won’t be relevant to you, but not knowing can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. You can also take advantage of our VIP Jet Card Decider service to do the work for you!

Feel free to email me at Doug.Gollan@Privatejetcardcomparisons.com with any questions!

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Compare over 300 jet card programs in one place when you become a paid subscriber to Private Jet Card Comparisons here.

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
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