FlyExclusive revamps jet card program with new pricing structure, expanded fixed-rate service area, no daily minimums
FlyExclusive, which launched its Club jet card program early last year, is making major revisions to the program. Flyers may view the changes as a mixed bag based on their travel patterns.
The changes could be a harbinger of what’s to come. Since August, NetJets, Executive Jet Management, Sentient Jet, and Jet Linx Aviation have all imposed a hiatus on accepting new members. Last night, Air Partner imposed a blackout on fixed-rate reservations during 30 days across Thanksgiving and the Festive and New Year’s holiday period.
Despite launching just six years ago, FlyExclusive clocked the fifth most Part 135/91k flight hours through June making it a force to be reckoned with.
The winners from the changes are those of you who fly multiple segments in a day, same-day roundtrips, longer flights, mainly over two hours, and want fixed-rate access to the deep Caribbean, Central, and Northern South America.
Among the losers will be lawyers who bill by the hour. At just nine pages, the FlyExclusive contract is one of the shortest and straightforward in the industry. That said, there are rate increases based on how you fly and there is now a $1,000 per month membership fee.
As a backdrop to all the changes, FlyExclusive is selling Club as a closed fleet program. They note 98.5% of Club members fly on FlyExclusive aircraft, something I’ll talk a bit more about in a few minutes. However, for those of you who want an operator program where you fly nearly exclusively on that operator, Fly will be in your consideration set.
Here’s what you should like.
Members will find an expanded fixed-rate service area allowing them to fly anywhere with nonstop capability from the Continental U.S. except Alaska and Hawaii. That means Central and Northern South America and the deep Caribbean.
Previously, the fixed-rate service area outside the Continental U.S. had been limited to the Bahamas, Mexico, and Canada.
There is no longer a daily minimum. Previously it ranged from 90 to 120 minutes based on aircraft category and your departure state. Western states had higher minimums.
Instead of one joining level at $150,000, there are now three options at $75,000, $150,000, and $250,000.
Funds no longer expire, although there is an annual 3%-to-5% CPI.
Hourly rates are going down – yes – down – and down significantly, but there’s a significant catch.
Light jet rates from $2,900 per hour
Light jet rates – not including FET – drop from $5,450 per hour (former Exclusive tier) and $4,750 per hour to $3,100, $3,000, or $2,900 per hour based on deposit level (75, 150k, 250k). The higher the deposit, the lower the hourly rate.
Midsize hourly rates – excluding FET – go from $6,450 and $5,750 per hour to $3,500, $3,400, and $3,300.
Super midsize hourly rates – again excluding FET – drop from $7,650 and $6,950 per hour to $4,900, $4,800, and $4,700.
Don’t jump up and down yet – there are now daily access fees.
Guaranteed availability at 24 hours
But first, more good news. You can now book fixed-rate flights with guaranteed availability with as little as 24 hours’ notice, although there is a 75% premium. For 48 to 72 hours, there is a 50% premium, and between 72 hours and 96 hours, it’s a 25% premium. The standard non-peak call-out remains 96 hours.
It’s an interesting approach, and something that probably makes sense for flyers who generally plan ahead, but sometimes need to make a last-minute booking.
FlyExclusive is a major provider of lift for other programs, much of that booking after the previous hard deadline for members of 96 hours. So, Fly members now can also book fixed rates with guaranteed availability up to the day before departure – with the aforementioned premiums.
WiFi continues to be guaranteed and deicing is included, although that’s outside the contract. In other words, it is subject to a policy change mid-contract. Pets are still welcome. Deposits continue to be non-refundable.
New is a membership fee of $1,000 per month. Previously its lowest hourly rates – the now gone Exclusive level – included a $20,000 annual payment, so perhaps it’s a wash.
My viewpoint is membership fees are there to be negotiated, a make the customer feel like he or she got something concession. Only time will tell how Fly handles this.
Daily Access Fee
Now the catch that goes with those uber-low hourly rates. You pay a daily access fee to get those low rates.
It’s not insignificant. You start the day by paying an access fee of $6,000 (light jets), $8,500 (midsize jets), or $11,000 (super midsize jets). Although Fly has been adding Gulfstream GIVSPs, it has yet to include them in its fixed-rate offerings.
The hourly rates are then charged in addition to the daily access fees, including 12 minutes of taxi time per segment, but no daily or segment minimums.
The daily fee covers a 12-hour period from wheels up of your first flight, which is standard for most card programs as crews are limited by duty time. If you need to extend beyond that, you pay a second access fee for the remainder of that day’s flights.
The new structure – daily access fee and low hourly rates with no segment minimums favors longer flights and those of you who make multiple flights within a day or same-day roundtrips.
Quite a few programs have segment minimums in addition to daily minimums, meaning that even if you meet the daily minimum, you can get dinged for 60 or 90 minutes on an 18-minute hop.
For example, that same day trip from Philadelphia to Tampa, then Orlando, and back home. On a super mid you can easily get hit with 60 to 90 minutes on the short leg. With Fly, you pay flight minutes, plus taxi time.
Peak day surcharges
Peak days go from 15 or 20 days and a one-hour surcharge to 20 peak days with a 100% surcharge and 25 more high-demand days with a 50% surcharge.
The number of peak days for the more than 250 programs in our database ranges from 0 to 105. Fly goes from what I would call best in class to the middle of the pack in terms of peak days.
Fly’s program has never been peak day friendly for short flights. They previously charged an extra hour. It’s still not peak day friendly. That doesn’t make it a bad program.
It just says even with one of the largest charter fleets in the country, FlyExclusive doesn’t have enough capacity to meet demand during those popular flying days.
One can view it as better than a blackout – as NetJets imposed for its 45 peak days shortly before suspending its card program sales.
In early September I trekked to Kinston, North Carolina, where FlyExclusive is based. It’s in the middle of beautiful farmland on the way from Raleigh to the coast.
While I always enjoy visiting operators, this trip was notable. Fly just opened a 40,000 square foot painting hangar and broke ground on another 45,000 square foot hangar that will be the permanent home of its refurbishment center.
At NBAA next week, Fly will announce it is taking outside clients for its painting and refurbishment centers. However, the first priority will be is to refurbish and repaint the used aircraft that make up Fly’s fleet.
In terms of the new-look cabins, what I particularly liked was the approach. Fly has a charter fleet pure and simple – think 1,000 flight hours per year for an aircraft, five times more than the average managed aircraft, similar to what NetJets, Flexjet, and XOJET look to achieve.
After a bunch of testing – trial and error they tell me – they’ve settled on cabin materials that have a modern luxury aesthetic but are durable. Gone are shiny veneers that scratch. In are matted finishes and assemblies that can be replaced overnight, instead of having to take the aircraft out of service for several days.
You might compare the new look to a Miami Beach luxury condo – but the point is that Fly wants to create a better cabin experience.
Fly is Argus Platinum and Wyvern Wingman, so nice cabins, high safety standards, closed fleet, not much off-fleeting – one can argue that Fly’s program was underpriced. That said, it will be until the end of next year until the entire fleet has been refurbished.
The mantra at Fly is “minutes matter.” That mainly refers to your time. Look for Fly to introduce an app that will enable pilots to track your arrival at the airport (if you are opted-in).
The idea is that pilots will get your picture and info dinged to them when you are within 20 or 30 minutes of arriving, and they can then track you.
One of the pilots can be at the curb to greet you when you arrive, so you don’t spend time checking at the desk. The other pilot, in the meantime, will be getting the airplane ready, so if you arrive early, you can leave early.
Happy banter aside, how does Fly’s new pricing structure impact what you will pay?
Long flights (see table) – three-and-a-half hours on light jet flights go down. Short flights – 30 minutes or less – and two-hour flights are basically a wash.
FlyExclusive Club Pricing (Comparing Old vs. New Program)
|Flight Minutes||Light Jet – New – 150k||Light Jet – Old – Club||Change||Mid Jet – New – 150k||Mid Jet – Old – Club||Change||Super Mid Jet – New – 150k||Super Mid Jet – Old – Club||Change|
For midsize jets, the standard 120-minute flight goes up 11%, however, if you fly 210 minutes, you save $3,152 compared to the old program.
With super-midsize jets, FlyExclusive now is a top choice for coast-to-coast flying.
All the above consider daily access, membership fees amortized by 25 annual flight hours, hourly rates, FET, and taxi time via our exclusive QUICK COMPARE FLIGHT PRICING tool.
As of last month, the average hourly rate for light jets in our database was $6,442, including FET. Midsize jets were $7,681 per hour. Super midsize hourly rates were $10,075.
These averages, of course, don’t take into account the daily minimums of those programs. The vast majority of midsize and super-midsize flying carries 90 to 120-minute minimums. At the same time, 60-minute minimums on light jets have become a rarity.
International Private Jet Flights
What about international flights?
In terms of the flight cost, you pay the hourly rate to the destination and repositioning to the closest U.S. customs port of entry. It’s the reverse when you are coming home. Since the hourly rates are now very low, even with the daily access, it makes Fly competitive.
As an example, if you were flying from New York to Turks & Caicos. you pay the daily access fee, the flight hours, plus taxi time to Turks, and the repositioning to the closest U.S. port, in this case, Miami.
So, you are paying for about three hours on the southbound occupied leg and then just the 75 minutes on the ferry flight to Florida. There are no extra landing and international fees, which is nice.
With 75 jets going to 100 by early next year, like the rest of the industry, Fly doesn’t have enough capacity to cater to everybody.
When I spoke to owner Jim Segrave and asked him about profitability, he said they’ve been making money since their first year. He expects revenues this year to be around $230.
If you lost money in the JetSuite bankruptcy, you know that having your provider profitable is a good thing.
In giving me a preview of the new offering, Fly’s Chief Revenue Officer Brad Blettner said, “We want to say ‘yes.’”
So, it’s now yes on fixed rates to the deep Caribbean, Central, and Northern South America – the latter two are a rarity these days. It’s also a yes if you need a jet between 24 hours and 96 hours. And instead of a blackout, not guaranteeing availability, or dynamic pricing, peak days are a yes.
Of course, some of these yesses come with surcharges.
A good time to do something new
With NetJets, Sentient Jet, Executive Jet Management, and Jet Linx not accepting new customers, the timing for FlyExclusive to try something different couldn’t be better.
I’ll look forward to subscriber feedback as you run the numbers against your flying.
I’ve been using the policies and rules in our JET CARD DECIDER custom analysis for a few days now. Whether the new Club is good for you is definitely based on your flying needs and preferences. For some of you, where Fly previously didn’t make sense, it will become a prime option.