Every company is a bit different. Moreover, business travel needs are constantly changing, particularly in a post-pandemic world. UP For Business answers that need for customized solutions. It’s based on a consultative sales approach, chief sales officer of Wheels Up Ken Napolitano tells Private Jet Card Comparisons.
Napolitano declines to discuss what can be negotiated. Instead, he focuses on the big picture. That is, today’s Wheels Up has a unique toolkit.
The first part is its extensive and diverse fleet. In addition to all four major jet categories, there are its signature King Air 350i turboprops.
That lineup has been in place with capped rates since December 2019. However, Delta Private Jets, Mountain Aviation, TMC Jets, and Gama Signature Aviation acquisitions mean it’s now on a company-operated fleet of over 350 owned and managed aircraft. There are also 1,200 more safety-vetted partner aircraft. It’s also new to the many companies being pitched. That’s because more companies than ever are looking into private aviation, and the fact, Wheels Up now has access to Delta corporate accounts.
The January 2020 commercial agreement with Delta Air Lines enables UP members to use deposits, called Flexible Funds, for flights on the airline and private charters. There’s no limitation on how you use the funds. Napolitano says this is particularly impactful as it gives customers flexibility, something both CFOs and CEOs appreciated.
New in the mix is Wheels Up’s aircraft management, maintenance, and whole aircraft sales. “We have designed programs for clients that own one or more aircraft and firms that want to get out of managing their own fleet. We offer one-stop solutions based on listening and figuring out what’s best for the customer,” Napolitano says.
While a brochure shows depositing $200,000 yields two Diamond Medallion memberships on Delta, Napolitano says part of the sales process is to figure out what the company needs. His team then develops an offering that’s a fit. “For one customer, our first mile, last mile approach is going to be important. We can meet you at JFK when you land on your Delta flight, transfer you to the FBO in a Porsche, and from there, you can fly in a King Air to an airport that’s close to your destination. For another company, it’s something different.”
Fund programs range from $100,000 to $400,000 and up. There’s a dedicated account management team, and at $1 million, there is a dedicated corporate services team. Benefits include “unlimited lead passengers, multiple aircraft available per day for board meeting travel, and flexible payment terms.” That gives Wheels Up an edge against more structured fractional ownership offerings. Those programs require commitments of three to five years.
One attractive element of UP’s Fund Programs is the ability to reduce peak days. At $400,000, there are just 10 dates, the lowest among the major providers. While peak day surcharges vary widely, virtually all jet cards reserve the right to move your departure time by plus or minus three hours. That’s something that might not be good for business.