Vista Global's XO removes fixed-rate Elite Access membership option from website

XO still offers dynamic pricing memberships but scratched its fixed-rate Elite Access private jet membership, according to its website.

By Doug Gollan, July 27, 2022

Since last September, Vista Global’s XO has been adding restrictions, increasing pricing, and taking away discounts from its Elite Access fixed-rate private jet membership.

The moves were similar to what other sellers of fixed-rate jet cards with guaranteed availability have been doing.

Last year the Private Jet Card Comparisons database was updated 137 times. So far this year, it has been updated 56 times for program changes.

However, as of yesterday, Elite Access is now gone completely, at least on its website.

A subscriber of Private Jet Card Comparisons said his salesperson told him XO will no longer be offering Elite Access, at least in its present form.

Elite Access offered fixed hourly rates with guaranteed availability across light, midsize, and super-midsize private jets.

Asked about the future of Elite Access or a fixed-rate, guaranteed alternative, a company executive tells us, “We have no comment at this time, but we will continue to stay in touch.”

The leading private jet broker is still selling its Signature and Select memberships which use dynamic pricing.

Dynamic pricing means your trips are priced when you call based on when and where you are going.

If you change dates, the trip needs to be repriced.

It’s like calling a broker for on-demand charters, although the XO dynamic memberships do offer added perks.

XO Elite Access

However, fixed-rate Elite Access gave members a contracted hourly rate with guaranteed availability on 72 hours’ notice on non-peak days.

Like most fixed-rates jet cards, users pay only for flight time when they are on the airplane. Dynamic pricing quotes have to take into account repositioning costs.

A survey of Private Jet Card Comparisons subscribers last year in The Jet Card Report found flyers wanted fixed or capped hourly rates with guaranteed availability by a 30-to-1 margin over dynamic pricing. Still, 37% said they didn’t have a preference.

Beyond the fixed hourly rates, at one point, Elite Access had a 3.5-hour rate cap across its super-midsize fleet.

Initially, the cap was good for flights to the Caribbean, Canada, and Mexico and covered both the Challenger 300 and Citation X.

It was later reduced to just Citation X and then just the Continental 48 states.

At $29,750, including FET, it provided a very popular discounted coast-to-coast option.

Recently XO added the FET to the base rate and, like many others, implemented a fuel surcharge.

XO had also increased the Elite Access daily minimums across light, midsize, and super midsize jets. They were 132 minutes when the program was pulled from its website, up from 72 to 90 minutes before the changes, which started last September.

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In another change, earlier this year, XO reduced the Canadian, Mexican, and Caribbean airports where the Elite fixed hourly one-way pricing would apply.

While XO didn’t add peak days, it dropped no surcharge service recovery guarantees on the high-demand days.

Dynamic pricing enables XO to ensure the flights it sells are profitable. Elite Access meant XO was contractually obligated to fulfill the fixed rate flights for members.

XO Elite Signature and Select Access

XO’s core memberships, at least for the moment, are Signature Access and Select Access.

Signature Access, like Elite, requires a $100,000 refundable deposit. Select starts at $50,000.

Signature offers guaranteed availability on 24 hours’ notice on non-peak days, but again, the flight price will be based on what the market will bear at the last minute.

Signature Access continues to offer guaranteed aircraft recovery on non-peak travel days at no additional cost.

While adding rules and taking away discounts for Elite Access, XO had been adding perks for its dynamic pricing memberships.

For example, Signature customers get up to 4% value in loyalty credits for their charter bookings.

While neither Signature nor Select has daily minimums or fuel surcharges, those factors, including repositioning, are baked into your quote each time you fly.

Easy Decision

“It must have been an easy decision, as they could see what they could have sold those flights for based on dynamic pricing, but instead, the aircraft were tied up with lower revenue fixed rate contracts,” one industry executive says.

The move comes at an interesting time. Other jet card providers that had stopped selling fixed-rate guaranteed availability programs are restarting.

Argus and WingX data show private jet charter flights in the U.S. slipping behind their record-setting pace that began in June 2021.

What’s Next?

Ostensibly ending Elite Access follows Vista’s recent acquisition of Jet Edge, which is selling a fixed-rate as-available program under the Reserve banner.

Jet Edge reported over $100 million in jet card sales after launching last year despite not offering guaranteed availability.

Vista’s flagship VistaJet unit offers fixed-hourly rates with guaranteed availability at 24 hours’ notice. However, the VistaJet Program starts at 50 hours per year and requires a three-year commitment.

After the Jet Edge deal closed last month, Vista said there were no immediate changes to group membership offerings.

In a recent interview with Corporate Jet Investor, Vista Global’s Founder and Chairman, Thomas Flohr, told the publication, “If people want to fly on-demand, they can go to XO, but we also want to be able to serve people who want guaranteed availability and price. Jet Edge allows us to add aircraft for customers on our (VistaJet) Program.”

During our interview with Flohr during the delivery of VistaJet’s 10th Global 7500 in March, when asked about Elite Access, he told us, “Today it is a product, but what we’re seeing from the demand side of the world is that when somebody wants a guaranteed price and guaranteed availability, it is really a VistaJet customer.”

Regarding the future of Elite Access, Flohr said, “It’s a product which we need to decide which way to go.”

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