Everything you need to know about Jet Cards
From policy on pets and unaccompanied minors to costs, extra fees, where you can and cannot fly, and whether or not there are toilets, here are some of the most frequent questions and answers about private jet cards and prepaid private jet charter programs. Either read the entire article, or click on the link under the table of content, and you will go right to the answer for that question.
Table of Contents
- What is a jet card?
- Who sells jet cards?
- How much does a jet card cost?
- Where can I fly with a jet card?
- What type of aircraft are available with a private jet card?
- Who owns the planes I am flying with a private jet card?
- Are there safety standards for private jet card flights?
- Are there extra taxes and fees when I buy a jet card?
- Can I get my money back if I buy a jet card?
- Will my jet card expire?
- How much do I get billed for taxi time or time on the ground?
- What will I be charged for a 45-minute flight?
- Are there peak periods or destination surcharges and blackouts when I buy a jet card?
- What’s the lead time for making flight reservations with a jet card?
- Can I upgrade or downgrade the size of the aircraft with my jet card?
- Can I upgrade or downgrade the size of the aircraft with my jet card?
- Can I choose the FBO I want with my private jet card?
- What type of catering is included with my private jet card?
- Will there be WiFi on the private jet?
- Can I send unaccompanied minors with my private jet card?
- Can I take pets on a private jet?
- Do private jet card providers have 24/7 customer service?
- What happens if my private jet flight is canceled for non-weather-related reasons?
- Do all private jets have toilets?
- What type of luxury partnerships do private jet cards have?
- If I buy a jet card, can I get VIP access to events like the Super Bowl, All-Star Game, Kentucky Derby, The Masters, and other sporting events?
- What are the advantages of buying a jet card over chartering trip-by-trip?
- Who buys jets cards?
- What is the range of hourly rates?
- What type of insurance do private jet companies provide?
A jet card refers to debit card-style programs that typically enable you to prepay private jet flights at a fixed hourly rate with guaranteed availability.
Some programs include not only jets but turboprops. The term “jet card” can also refer to prepaid private jet charter programs with similar attributes but are pay-as-you-go or offer dynamic pricing where each flight is priced on market rates.
Cards are typically sold in increments of dollars or hours, for example, 25 hours or $150,000, although we have seen deposit amounts range from $15,000 to $1,000,000. Pay-as-you-go programs entail paying a joining fee and then paying on a trip-by-trip basis.
Able American Jets; Air Charter Service; Air Partner; Airshare (formerly Executive Airshare); Airstream Jets Inc.; Ajax Jets; Alliance Aviation; Amalfi Jets; Clay Lacy Aviation; Concord Private Jet; Delta Private Jets, Inc (now Wheels Up).; Dominion Charter, Ltd.; Dreamline Aviation, Dumont Aviation; Elite Jets Charters; Executive Jet Management; Exec 1 Aviation (formerly DashJet); ExpertJet; Flexjet; Fly Aeolus; FlyExclusive; FXAIR; GlobeAir; GrandView Aviation; Hopscotch Air; International Jet; Jet Algo; Jet Aviation Flight Services, Inc.; Jet Linx Aviation; Jetlogic Ltd.; Jet the World; JetSet Group; Jets.com; Jettly; LunaJets SA; Luxury Aircraft Solutions; Magellan Jets; Netjets (including Marquis Jet); Nicholas Air; Northern Jet Management; ONEFlight International; Outlier Jets; Paramount Business Jets; Priester Aviation; Private Jet Services Group (PJS Group); PrivateFly; Prive Jets; Qatar Executive; Quantum Jets; Sentient Jet; Silverhawk Aviation; Solairus Aviation; Starflight Aviation; Star Jets International LLC; StraightLine Private Air; Stratos Jet Charters; Tradewind Aviation; Unity Jets; Vault Jet; Velocity Jets; VeriJet; VistaJet; Wheels Up, and XO (formerly XOJET and JetSmarter).
The cost depends on how much you want to fly. While you can find jets cards starting at $25,000, jet cards and programs typically run between $100,000 and $500,000. Air Partner and Delta Private Jets in the past sold $1 million jet cards. Jet Aviation, Magellan Jets, and NetJets all have 100-hours cards where the deposit can get into seven figures. There are also pay-as-you-go jet cards. With these types of cards, often referred to as memberships, you pay a joining fee and then annual or monthly dues.
Different companies have different fixed-rate service areas, mainly within Continental North America and in many instances, including parts of Mexico or the Caribbean. Other companies, European service areas, or even worldwide service.
Even if a company’s jet card service area is in North America, it may arrange on-demand charter dynamically priced flights for you on a global basis. Those flights, however, will be at a different market-based rate with different terms. VistaJet is an example of a company offering worldwide programs at fixed rates.
There are jet card programs that include planes from turboprops to very light jets and long-range, large-cabin jets such as the Bombardier Global Express and Gulfstream G650.
Wheels Up has built its program on the Beechcraft King Air 350i, a turboprop seating up to nine passengers and focusing on flights under 500 miles, although it has been expanding its offerings. At the other end of the spectrum, VistaJet offers the Bombardier Global 6000, which can fly nearly 7,000 miles, about 13 hours nonstop as part of its Program. Some fixed-rate programs allow you to choose specific aircraft types. Most programs use cabin categories: Light, Midsize, Super Midsize, and Large Cabin.
Who owns the planes varies widely. NetJets, Flexjet, and Airshare, for example, tap into fractional fleets they manage and operate on behalf of fractional shareowners.
XO, Wheels Up, Nicholas Air, and VistaJet own their own aircraft.
Delta Private Jets, Solairus, and Jet Linx, as examples, manage and operate jets on behalf of individual owners who enable them to use those planes as part of their jet card programs.
Companies like Sentient Jet, Magellan Jets, and Private Jet Services (PJS) Group are brokers. They neither own nor operate planes but go out into the market to source jets for your flights. Each business model has its advantages, depending on your needs.
Yes. In the U.S., only planes on a Part 135 certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can be used for private flights sold as part of jet card programs.
Jet card sellers also use third-party safety auditors such as ARG/US, IS-BAO, and Wyvern to evaluate the operators of private jets they source. Some brokers have their own in-house standards, safety evaluations, and safety directors to evaluate their source.
Card sellers also have minimum standards for the pilots that fly flights for their programs, which varies by company.
Yes. For U.S. jet card providers, some jet card sellers don’t include Federal Excise Tax (FET), landing fees, and fuel surcharges as part of their base pricing, while others do. For example, Sentient Jet, Air Partner, Solairus, Magellan Jets, and Private Jet Services (PJS) Group include the 7.5% FET in their hourly pricing.
If your flight begins and ends within 220 miles of the U.S. Continental northern and southern borders, to, from or between Alaska and Hawaii, you will need to pay the FET.
Note: Currently, the FET is suspended through Dec. 31, 2020, as part of the CARES Act. With some card providers, if you buy a card before the end of the year, your flights will be tax-free for the life of the card or your funds.
Some jet card providers will provide refunds; others will let you roll over your funds to a new program, while others do not give refunds. Air Partner, Delta Private Jets, Star Jets, and XO will allow you to withdraw your funds.
Some cards and programs expire funds in 12 to 36 months, while others don’t have an expiration. Air Partner, Clay Lacy, Nicholas Air, Sentient Jet, StarJets, and XO don’t have an expiration date.
Most jet card programs bill you for taxi time, typically 12 minutes per segment. If your hourly rate is $6,000, that means paying $1,200. Clay Lacy, Jets.com, and Solairus don’t bill for taxi time.
Programs vary. Some have minimum charges of 60 to 180 minutes per flight. Other programs have a minimum number of hours per day; you will be charged when you fly. For select aircraft, NetJets has no minimums.
For Delta Private Jets, Sentient Jet and VistaJet, and many others, it varies by aircraft size. If you fly a lot of short flights, you will want to compare this aspect of the different programs. Typically 60 minutes is the shortest segment minimum; however, some companies have a daily minimum instead or additionally. Companies that have only a daily minimum may be better if you make multiple sub-one-hour flights per day.
Most programs have peak period surcharges that can range as high as 40%. In some, travel outside the contiguous 48 U.S. States and travel to the Caribbean are charged at international rates.
Programs typically will provide a list of peak days and blackout days if they have any. It can vary widely. Some have none, and while most have between 10 and 30 peak days, others have over 50.
With Wheels Up, peak days vary based on the program. Most cards have no blackout, although some have dates they won’t guarantee availability, or after 12 months. If you plan to do a lot of flying during holidays and high demand periods, you will want to factor this into your decision.
Lead time to make a reservation varies but is typically between six and 48 hours or longer, between 24 hours and 7 days during peak periods. Providers will generally try to accommodate you even if you are within the window. If you expect a lot of short-notice travel, make sure to pay attention to the minimum lead-time for reservations.
Many programs allow you to upgrade or downgrade your plane’s size, so if you need a longer-range plane or need more space, you can upgrade. If you are traveling alone on a short flight, you can downgrade. There are sometimes additional interchange fees for upgrading or downgrading, so if you expect to be doing a lot of either, it pays to pay attention to these fees and policies.
Policies on cancellation vary widely. For example, Sentient Jet requires just 10 hours’ notice while some programs require 7 days’ notice.
Most programs will let you choose the FBO you want to use; however, some will charge additional fees if you select a non-preferred Fixed Based Operator. A $500 charge for using a non-preferred FBO is typical.
Most providers offer basic catering of sodas, water, and snacks, but not all. Some will provide sandwiches, while a few provide full catering or catering credits. Beyond what is provided as part of the program, all will cater to your specific demands on a pay basis.
Not all private jets have WiFi, although some providers guarantee it on their fleets as part of their jet card programs. As examples, NetJets, VistaJet, Delta Private Jets, Wheels Up (on its fleet), and XO (on its fleet) have WiFi. Private Jet Services (PJS) Group and Air Partner say it will custom quote programs guaranteeing WiFi. Sentient recently introduced its first guaranteed WiFi jet card. Sentient now guarantees WiFi on midsize and larger cabin categories.
Most jet card companies will transport unaccompanied minors. Still, the age requirement varies, and in some cases, you will need to pay additional fees to have a flight attendant accompany the minor. For example, the minimum age with XO is 13 years and with Wheels Up 16 years old.
The answer is cats, dogs, and caged pets are generally allowed, but some providers will charge cleaning fees. Broker jet card programs often source their aircraft from fleet operators who use aircraft managed for individual owners. Those owners determine if they will allow pets, how many and what type. Even if your jet card company says, they are pet-friendly, triple-check the terms and fine print.
The good news the over 55 companies we have analyzed that sell private jet cards and prepaid private jet charter programs offer 24/7 customer support.
Programs mainly will get a replacement aircraft at no additional costs to the customer. Magellan Jets promises you updates every 10 minutes.
Some smaller private jets don’t have fully enclosed lavatories. If you are looking at programs with Light and Very Light Jets, you will want to specify if you require a fully enclosed toilet.
Sentient Jet, XOJET (now XO), NetJets, VistaJet, and Wheels Up have extensive luxury partnerships. For example, WheelsUp offers customers benefits at Ermenegildo Zegna while Sentient Jet customers get the VIP treatment at Brioni. Wheels Up customers get benefits from jeweler Kwiat and residence club Inspirato. Sentient Jet gives members a catalog with free and discounted stays at luxury hotels. NetJets lists Mandarin Oriental, The Leading Hotels of the World, Canyon Ranch, and Wynn Las Vegas as partners with exclusive offers for its customers.
The answer is it depends. However, NetJets, Wheels Up, Sentient Jet, Flexjet, and XO are active at these types of events with parties and hospitality. San Francisco-based XOJET has a special arrangement with the Golden State Warriors, giving customers VIP access to games and special events. WheelsUp lists the Boston Red Sox as a partner.
Sentient Jet is the official private jet card of the Breeder’s Cup World Championship that gives card members VIP seating and access to the Paddock and Winner’s Circle.
When you buy a jet card or prepaid private jet charter program, often you are locking in a fixed hourly rate, and you are guaranteeing availability. You also know upfront extra fees and the source of aircraft you will be flying. For the most part, you are not charged extra for one-way flights, and sometimes you will get upgraded to a larger aircraft.
You also know the standards for sourcing aircraft and pilots, so you don’t have to review planes and pilots each time as you would have to with an on-demand charter. Since you have prepaid, you also don’t have to worry about transferring funds on short notice. There is also service recovery in case the operator cancels. With most on-demand charter, you have to pay the difference if the replacement aircraft costs more.
Surprisingly many private jet card users also own their own jets. For many people, having access to a private jet is like having access to a car. While it might not make sense to own two jets, a jet card can provide private jet access to family or company associates while somebody else is using the owned jet.
This is called supplemental lift in industry lingo. Others buy jet cards instead of fractional ownership as they don’t want to make the three-to-five-year commitment of fractional ownership.
Jet card and prepaid jet program users typically need 10 to 500 hours of private jet travel per year, although some programs report customers buying over 1,000 hours per year.
In some cases, companies and individuals buy jet cards because they prefer it over owning an entire plane, knowing they don’t have to worry about flight crews, maintenance, and having a back-up if there is a mechanical delay.
Hourly rates vary widely by the size of the jet and the program. Turboprops can start under $4,000 per hour, while ultra-long-range large-cabin jets can run up to $20,000 per hour.
Liability and risk coverage by private jet card sellers vary widely and sometimes depend on the plane’s size. For example, Flexjet, Wheels Up, and XOJET carry $300 million of insurance. VistaJet carries $500 million.
Comparing Jet Cards
If you want a program-by-program comparison of more than 250 products from more than 50 companies covering 65 points of differentiation, we have organized it all into a single easy-to-use and compare spreadsheet.