Private jet peak days with jet cards and membership programs are like joining a second program. Peak days and high-demand days have different rulesets, which can feature severe penalties if you don’t read the fine print.
The number of North American jet card programs with over 60 high-demand days has increased from four to 14 since last year.
From just one program with more than 70 peak days, there are now seven, including six with over 90 peak days.
Currently, jet card programs have an average of 49.1 peak days, high-demand dates, and blackout days, an increase of 25% since the end of last year.
The bottom line is there are four reasons you should avoid flying on the Peak Days of private jet card and membership programs.
Peak day surcharges may be the factor that gets the most attention with jet cards and for a good reason. Some surcharges are as high as 100%!
It’s often part of the pitch from programs that don’t have surcharges. Yes, there are providers and options where you don’t pay extra on peak days. That’s good, sort of, as you will see in a minute.
In addition to surcharges, which make flying more expensive on high-demand days, some programs switch to dynamic pricing where you pay market rates.
Instead of your fixed or capped hourly rate, how much you will pay depends on when you book and where you are flying.
Others also have blackout dates, where you simply can’t even fly, or they don’t guarantee availability on peak days.
If you fly privately to get where you want to go when you want to go, on peak days, it’s standard that your provider can accelerate or delay your departure by at least three hours.
As part of the changes providers have made, that window is getting bigger. Some providers now can delay and move up your departure by plus or minus six hours.
In other words, if you booked to depart at 5 pm after the kids get out of school, your provider could call you and move your flight departure to anywhere between 11 am and 11 pm.
While most programs set the deadline to move your departure as the day before, some programs now can delay your departure on the day of departure.
If you are traveling on business or just want to get in a last round of golf, changing your flight time is far from optimal.
One great feature of jet cards is booking your fixed or capped rate on short notice, typically between 24 and 96 hours.
That changes on peak days. Many programs require a week’s notice. In one case, to book on peak days, you need to provide 45 days’ notice.
Another reason to buy jet cards is flexible terms to change or cancel your flights. On peak days, the window to cancel or change your flight increases, often to a week.
More onerous is that more programs no longer permit cancelations on peak days, so you are locked in once you are booked.
Some programs don’t guarantee upgrades on peak days. Others guarantee fewer seats.
Recently, one provider changed its terms to no longer guarantee recovery aircraft with no additional cost on peak days.
While it may seem insignificant, it won’t be if it impacts your trip!
My best advice is to look for programs where you can avoid peak days. Flying on peak days is essentially like joining a very different program.
Depending on how much you fly, that may mean it makes sense to join two programs, particularly if you need the flexibility to book or cancel on short windows or if having your departure time changed will impact your plans.
Peak Day surcharges, pricing policies, blackouts, call-outs, cancelation rules, blackouts, and other policies are all tracked in the Private Jet Card Comparisons database for paid subscribers.
If you are renewing your current program, read the contract. Review any changes that may have been made, so you aren’t surprised in the future.