When kidney stones grounded pilot Andrew Flaxman, it couldn’t take him away from aviation

 

ExpertJet offers fixed-price and dynamically priced jet cards in attractive programs that provide personalized service and experts to help guide your private jet travel.

 

History and Ownership

 

ExpertJet was founded in 2014 by former regional airline and private jet pilot Andrew Flaxman who got into the business side of business aviation when he was grounded with kidney stones. Having vast experience dealing directly with consumers as their pilot, he then learned the operations side of the business, from dispatch to scrutinizing operators and the pilots who would be flying the charter flights. ExpertJet is a boutique broker jet card and on-demand charter company, however, all four of its brokers (including Flaxman) are pilots, so you might say the company’s name is well deserved.

 

Overview

 

ExpertJet recently earned charter broker certification from ARGUS, and while Flaxman uses ARGUS, Wyvern Wingman, and IS-BAO as guidance when sourcing operators, he says having been a pilot working for various operators and then in operations and dispatch gives him added expertise in picking the right planes and pilots for his clients. Over lunch, the Ft. Lauderdale-based Flaxman makes it clear he has no ambitions to scale growth. “I love aviation. My father had a client who worked at Pan Am and when I was 10 years old I was able to fly a Boeing 747 simulator and I was hooked. I earned my pilot’s license before my driver’s license. My goal is to provide great service based on our knowledge of the market and that we love what we do. There are a lot of people who sell jet cards, but most of the brokers are just salespeople. We want to grow with long-term customers, but we don’t have any grand plans.”

 

Flaxman says 99% of new customers come via referrals, and it’s about the personal relationship. Several times during our lunch Flaxman stopped to take calls from clients. “Our clients like that they are speaking to people who know which aircraft works best for a particular flight. There are so many variables, getting the right aircraft for the right mission is critical, and we are very good at that,” he says.

 

The Jet Cards

 

ExpertJet has two jet cards – X-Card and On-Demand +. The X-Card begins with a $75,000 deposit and comes in Platinum – aircraft that have been refurbished in the past four years and Gold – aircraft that have been refurbished in the past eight years. Flaxman says his experience shows owners who spend money on refurbishing their aircraft every five to 10 years tend to have better operators and higher standards for pilots. “It shows the owner wants to make investments into his or her plane,” he says. All aircraft are vetted via an ExpertJet Audit and PASS Report with a review of operator certification and incident history, pilot experience and incident history, and aircraft reliability and dispatch rate check.

 

There are one-way and roundtrip fixed hourly rates. One-way Light Jet rates are $5,250 and $4,800 and range to $13,050 and $11,300 for Heavy Jets. Roundtrip rates start at $4,730 and $4,350 per hour up to $11,800 and $10,225 per hour for Heavy Jets.

 

In terms of selecting cabin size, there are no interchange fees, the pricing includes 7.5% Federal Excise Tax, there are no fuel surcharges, no credit card fees and funds don’t expire.

 

Question: When is on-demand charter sometimes better than a jet card? Answer: When you have a really good broker. Flaxman says after discussions with clients, most end up going for On-Demand + which is a dynamically priced jet card, which means pricing varies per trip. Flaxman says X-Card pricing works best for those of you flying out of or into small, low traffic airports, particularly away from the coasts while On-Demand + generally provides better pricing for those trips up and down the coasts and cross country. If you start with X-Card you can move funds to On-Demand + at any time with a 10% penalty.

 

Safety

 

Flaxman believes having pilots sourcing the operators for your flights is a true differentiator. In terms of auditing aircraft and operators for flights, pilots and first officers with any license violations, accidents or incidents are disqualified – a higher standard than the rating agencies. Also disqualified are operators with low dispatch rates or have a history of any accidents that involved passengers. Required are two ARGUS qualified Captains for each flight on the X-Card.

 

ExpertJet X-Card Jet Card Key Selling Points

 

– Personalized service

 

– Fixed one-way pricing

 

– Ability to select cabin category for each trip based on need

 

– 10 hour call out, 48 hours on peak days

 

– Deposit is refundable, albeit with a 20% fee

 

– Funds never expire

 

– No initiation fees or dues

 

– Billing based on pre-trip estimate flight time vs. actual flight time means you don’t have to worry about extra expense during ATC holds or longer flight patterns

 

– $250 credit for catering and transportation per trip

 

Shortcomings

 

– While deposits are held in a separate account, we would prefer to see an escrow account option

 

– Deicing, hangar charges and WiFi are billed additionally

 

– 90-minute daily minimum for light jets is longer than typical 60 minutes

 

– A significant 90 peak days carry a 10% surcharge

 

Toss-Ups

 

– Buying from a boutique provider like ExpertJet brings two schools of thought. One is that small shops don’t have the same resources to support customers and scrutinize operators as larger companies, nor the financial stability. The flip side is in the case of ExpertJet, you get personalized service from pilots who one assumes understands the ins and outs of the business better than many. It’s clear Flaxman is dedicated and passionate. Choosing an outfit like ExpertJet comes down to the chemistry between customer and provider.

 

Final Thoughts

 

If you have been with a bigger company and felt like you were lost in the crowd, broker programs like ExpertJet can provide that level of personalized service. While the $75,000 deposit for its card programs is a modest starting point, we wish there was an escrow account. There is a 15-minute response time during business hours and Flaxman says within an hour during off-hours.

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