Directional Aviation’s jet card provider Sentient Jet is celebrating its 20th anniversary. And it has some of its most significant program changes.
In an interview with Private Jet Card Comparisons during Corporate Jet Investor in Miami, CEO Andrew Collins outlined several key updates.
Top of the list is expanding guaranteed Wifi, fixed rates and guaranteed availability for transatlantic flights, and aircraft specific programs.
One thing you probably won’t be seeing from Sentient is jet sharing, according to Collins.
Sentient began life in 1999 as eBizjets and launched the now robust jet card market. Two decades later there are over 60 providers and more than 300 programs. The number has more than doubled since the financial crisis in 2008-2009.
Here are the changes Sentient Jet is making, including several pricing moves around peak days.
After launching guaranteed Wifi on super-midsize jets in 1997, Sentient is now guaranteeing connectivity on midsize and large-cabin aircraft. The move is already in place.
Sentient dropped its two-tiered offering of Preferred and Select private jets based on age for all
but light jets.
Instead, there is now one program under the SJ25+ banner, meaning Wifi is guaranteed.
For now, it will offer light jet customers the option of model year 2000 or later, and pre-2000 private jets.
Entry price for 25 hours on a light jet is now $137,975, including 7.5% Federal Excise Tax.
Following a recent trend, Sentient is jumping into the transatlantic market. It plans to launch fixed rates and guaranteed availability between the U.S. and Europe.
It will join NetJets, Air Partner, and VistaJet as providers offering fixed rates on both sides of the pond, including across the Atlantic.
While Collins wouldn’t disclose aircraft types, he says Sentient will begin offering jet make specific jet cards. So far this year, NetJets, Magellan Jets, and Alliance Aviation have each added dedicated Embraer Phenom 300 jet cards.
This year Wheels Up and Vista Global’s XO (formerly XOJET and JetSmarter) have expanded their jet sharing offers, andJet Linx recently launched shared options.
Collins says it is unlikely Sentient will be joining in. “We believe it is called private aviation for a reason,” says Collins.
Lead time for booking light, midsize, and super-midsize jets remains 10 hours. For large-cabin aircraft, the call out moves to 24 hours.
Good news! There is now peak day guaranteed availability with the large private jets.
Discount for qualifying roundtrips remains at 15% for all cabin categories except large cabin where it is now 10%
Peak Day surcharges stay at a straight 5% for light and midsize unchanged at five points.
The SJ25+ Super-Mid card surcharge also remains unchanged at $1,499 per hour, including 7.5% FET, or a 16.7% surcharge.
Now with guaranteed availability, SJ25+ large jets are surcharged at $2,878 per hour on peak days or 24.3% premium.
Sentient is also extending its industry-leading call-out for Peak Days at 96 hours to large-cabin jets as well.
With the exception of pre-2000 light jets, Sentient members won’t see increases, and might actually see decreases.
From the beginning of the year, it’s light jet hourly rates increased from $5,272 to 5,519 FET inclusive for Select aircraft, while the newer Preferred jets have stayed flat at $5,891.
With the new midsize SJ25+, the hourly rate based on 25 hours is $7,850, the same as the previous Preferred program, but now with guaranteed Wifi.
Pricing for the SJ25+ Super-Mids card is unchanged as well at $8,971. It is actually lower than the previous Preferred and Select rates that are no longer being offered.
There’s good news for those of you who fly in large-cabin aircraft.
The $14,013 hourly rate for the year 2000 or newer jets goes away as does the $11,433 hourly price for older aircraft.
The new large-cabin Wifi enabled jets are $11,835 per hour, so much closer to the former Select than Preferred rate.
Adding the $2,878 surcharge for high-demand periods, your hourly rate goes to $14,713, all FET inclusive.
Previously Sentient didn’t guarantee availability on large-cabin jets on peak days at fixed rates and instead required a custom quote.
In addition to its 10-hour lead time for reservations on all but large-cabin jets, the 10-hour window for canceling stays put.
That continues to make Sentient a preferred choice for any of you who need the flexibility to cancel or change flights on short notice.
Guaranteeing Wifi on midsize and above aircraft makes sense.
While light jet users seem to care less about Wifi, newer and longer range midsize jets mean keeping connected is more important.
We’ve seen few if any large-cabin subscribers who didn’t want Wifi guaranteed. Guaranteeing Wifi on large-cabin jets will make Sentient a more formidable player.
Adding guaranteed availability on peak days for large jets is also smart. After all, it is often the holidays when users have more people flying.
Keeping its 60-minute minimums for light and midsize jets is an advantage over other providers that advertise lower hourly rates but impose 90 or 120 minimums.
Collins says Sentient will hit $300 million in sales this year, up from $130 million when Directional Aviation acquired it in 2012.
With sister Directional brands Flexjet focused on fractional shares and leases (although it offers jet cards on the Phenom 300 and Challenger 300), and PrivateFly growing beyond its on-demand offerings with fixed-rate City Pairs pricing, it will be interesting to see how the originator of jet cards evolves its products as it turns 21.