Private Jet Options: Marriage, Dating, Bar Hopping

How to think about the differences between full private jet ownership, fractional ownership, jet cards, and on-demand charter flights.

By Doug Gollan, June 30, 2024

One of the biggest challenges for newcomers to private aviation and those still figuring out the complexities of the various options is deciding on the best choice.

Here’s one way I think is helpful as you consider the various private jet access solutions.

While it rarely makes sense to jump in at the deep end of the pool right away – that’s full and fractional ownership, the standard industry matrix that recommends solutions based on how many hours per year you fly is also faulty.

That typically states that for over 200 hours per year, you own a jet; for 50 to 200 hours, you buy a share; for 25 to 50 hours per year, you get a jet card; and for less than 25 hours, you charter flight-by-flight.

In my opinion, the best way to start is with two analogies.

One is about relationships.

The other is about cars.

Let’s start with relationships.

Think about full and fractional ownership as like getting married.

It’s a commitment that can provide extraordinary happiness. It can also be time-consuming and expensive to get out of.

Buying a private jet can take months; doing it correctly means assembling a team to assist you.

READ: 40 Steps To Buy A Private Jet

Fractional ownership contracts are typically a five-year commitment.

There are three separate contracts.

One covers acquisitions, a second covers management, and a third governs your actual usage – flying.

With both fractional and full ownership, consider the type of aircraft you are buying into serves most of your missions.

Several preowned brokers I’ve heard speak use 80% as a rule of thumb.

Some attorneys specialize in negotiating these contracts. I highly recommend them to members who are pursuing fractional solutions.

READ: Jet It Lessons: What happens when your private jet provider fails?

Jet cards and memberships range from committed relationships to casual dating.

Some programs are non-refundable, so you must use or lose the funds even if you only put in $100,000 or $250,000.

Other card and membership programs allow you to refund unused funds, although there is often a restocking fee.

READ: What happens to your jet card and private jet membership deposits?

Chartering fight-by-flight can be akin to heading out to the bar.

It generally takes more work, but you can use your call blocker if you have a terrible experience and quickly move along.

The above is overly simplistic. But, I think it gives a flavor for the differences in the commitment level of each solution.

Over 50% of Private Jet Card Comparisons’ subscribers who own jets or have fractional shares also have jet cards.

READ: 16 reasons to use a private jet charter broker

Private Jet driveway

Which brings me to my final point.

Think about the different solutions, such as having cars in your driveway.

Most people have more than one car.

You might have a sports car, a convertible for the beach house, and an SUV for the place at the lake.

Based on your flying needs – where you are flying, how far in advance you can plan, how likely you are to change plans at the last minute, scheduling flexibility, and so forth, our Decider Custom Analysis can help you narrow down options and specific providers.

That said, if you are a career bachelor or bachelorette who hates commitment, many frequent private jet flyers take it one trip at a time.

Besides hoping you’ll subscribe—if you are not already a member—my best advice is not to let anyone push you into a solution you aren’t comfortable with.

Flying privately is a lot of money.

READ: Which private jet pricing method is best for you?

Just this morning, I read an article in a generally reliable publication about a light jet with a range of 2,300 miles.

Yes, that’s the longest flight the OEM could ever push the aircraft to—however, the actual range could be only about half of that if you were fully loaded, had headwinds, or other negative flight conditions.

Again, make sure you take your time. Do your homework!

Whatever deal ends this month, there will be more special offers next month.

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