Private Jet Card Comparisons has developed our exclusive Private Jet Card Glossary specifically around the more than 65 comparative points that differentiate the programs.
Aircraft Sourcing Standards – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets minimum standards for aircraft that can be chartered for private use under Part 135. Beyond that, some jet card providers use additional standards set by third-party auditors and organizations such as ARG/US, Wyvern and IS-BAO to guide sourcing of planes for their jet card programs.
Annual Dues – Some programs in addition to hourly rates and other fees have annual dues.
Applicable Aircraft – Private jet card programs typically cover either specific jet types or categories such as Very Light or Small Jets, Light Jets, Midsize Jets, Super Midsize Cabin Jets, Large or Cabin or Heavy Jets, and Ultra Longhaul Jets. Additionally, some programs allow you to buy into a specific aircraft type.
ARG/US level – ARG/US or ARGUS provides audits of private jet operators spanning over 500 operators globally. There are three levels: ARGUS Gold Rated Charter Operator, ARGUS Gold Rated Plus Charter Operator, and ARGUS Platinum Rated Charter Operator.
ARG/US Gold Rated Charter Operator – Requires operating certificate for at least one year, at least one turbine aircraft on certificate, in-depth historical safety analysis, and pilot background check and aircraft operational control validations.
ARG/US Gold Rated Plus Charter Operator – Requires all of the Gold Rated requirements plus an on-site audit with no safety of flight findings.
ARG/US Platinum Rated Charter Operator – Requires all of the Gold Plus rated standards plus on-site audit with zero findings, plus functioning SMS and Emergency Response Plan.
Black Out Days – Some programs do not guarantee service on specific dates.
Broker – Many jet card providers are brokers who sourced aircraft for your trips from charter operators. These programs typically sell by cabin category, although some offer specific aircraft types.
CPI Escalator – Contracts of some private jet card and prepaid programs are subject to increases based on the Consumer Price Index meaning rates are subject to increase based on CPI. In some cases, your rate will be increased on the higher of the CPI or an alternate number, meaning your rate will increase at that point.
Destination Surcharge – Some programs have surcharges for travel outside the U.S., typically when flying more than 220 miles off the U.S. coastline, but also for high-density airports, something more common in Europe.
Expiration of Hours/Deposits – Some programs expire hours or deposits after specific periods, typically 12 to 24 months.
FBO – Fixed Based Operators are private jet terminals and they also provide fueling and services for the plane.
FBO Choice – Some programs allow you to choose a specific FBO.
Federal Excise Tax (FET) – Some programs include FET when marketing hourly rate, while for other programs the rate being promoted is without FET. If you are flying within the Continental U.S. or within 220 miles of the coast and to, from or between Hawaii and Alaska the government assesses the 7.5% tax on top of your base hourly rate. As part of the CARES Act, the tax was suspended through Dec. 31, 2020.
Fixed One-Way Rates – Fixed One-Way Rates mean that you won’t have to pay for ferry fees to reposition your aircraft either before or after your flights within your Primary Service Area. By choosing a program with fixed one-way rates you can more accurately budget how much your private flying will cost in advance.
Flight Attendant Inclusion – Some programs provide flight attendants on specific aircraft types – typically super-midsize and large-cabin – while other programs offer flight attendants as an option for an additional fee.
Flight Cancellation Deadline – Cancellation policies refer to the lead-time in which you can cancel your flight without penalty. Lead times can vary based on peak and non-peak periods as well as for domestic versus international flights.
Fractional Fleet – Some jet card providers use aircraft from their fractional lease and ownership programs to sell jet cards. These programs are more likely to enable you to choose a specific aircraft type as opposed to broker programs, which more typically sell by category.
Fuel Surcharge – During periods of fuel price increases, some programs reserve the right to impose fuel surcharges. Others have fuel surcharges as part of their normal pricing. Fuel surcharges are typically updated monthly or quarterly.
Guaranteed Availability – Guaranteed availability refers to the window in your contract you can call your provider and they will get you an aircraft. Providers that also give you a fixed-rate typically require six to 48 hours lead time, and longer during Peak Day periods. Guaranteed availability and fixed one-way rates are considered two key benefits of a Jet Card vs. On-Demand Charter.
Guaranteed Upgrade – Guaranteed upgrades enable you to reserve a larger aircraft than the program you bought. This is useful if you are traveling with a larger group or need a longer ranger plane. Some programs such as NetJets only guarantee downgrades and make upgrades in aircraft size as available.
Guaranteed Downgrade – Guaranteed downgrades enable you to trade down from your program jet type or size to a smaller jet. This can save money if you are for example traveling alone on a shorter flight and want a smaller plane to save money on your hourly rate.
Hourly Rate – Hourly rate is the rate per hour your program charges. Hours are typically broken down by 6, 10, or 12-minute increments and rounded up.
Included Catering – Most programs include basic catering which might include non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. Some programs include more substantial catering such as sandwiches, fruit plates, hot meals, gourmet preparation, alcoholic beverages, or credits. All programs allow you to order for an additional charge catering to meet your needs.
Interchange Fees – Interchange fees are additional fees charged if you upgrade or downgrade the size of your jet or go between two service areas in a program, for example, North America and Europe.
Initiation Fee – Some programs have a one-time initiation fee.
Lavatory Type – Not all aircraft have fully enclosed lavatories or lavatories you can stand up in. For longer flights or personal preference, you should ask for pictures of the lavatories on the aircraft types that will be part of your program. Not all light and very light jets have full lavatories.
Liability and Risk Coverage (Insurance) – Programs provide varying amounts of liability and risk coverage.
Managed Fleet – Some jet card providers use aircraft they manage for individual owners to sell jet cards. Like a broker-based jet card program, Managed Fleet jet cards typically sell by size category as they have a variety of aircraft types in each category, meaning you are likely to get a different jet type per trip.
Minimum seating – As you select a vendor and program you should think about the number of people, including children, you will be traveling with so that the majority of your missions can be accommodated by the type of planes used in the program you are buying. Within a category, a provider might offer aircraft between six and eight seats, so if you typically travel with seven people, that may mean you need to choose a larger cabin program to ensure your needs will be met.
Minimum Flight Time Charged – Different programs have minimum times charged, so a 40-minute flight might be charged as one hour of program time if that is the minimum. If you will be taking a lot of short flights, you will want to pay attention to this. Also, some programs charge a daily minimum. Minimums are typically one to two hours and can depend on the size of the plane. If you multiple same-day short hops, a program with only a daily minimum may be advantageous.
Multiple Same Time Aircraft Access – This allows you to use two or more planes from a single program at the same time.
One-Way Surcharge – Charter pricing for one-way flights is typically more expensive than roundtrip flights on a per leg basis as it entails flying the plane to or from as an empty leg in which the operator incurs costs but doesn’t generate revenue, so you have to pay. Many jet card and prepaid programs do not have one-way surcharges giving you extra flexibility, however they will offer roundtrip discounts.
Owned Fleet – Some jet card providers own the aircraft they use to sell time for their jet cards. These programs are more likely to enable you to choose a specific aircraft type as opposed to broker programs, which more typically sell by category.
Part 135 – The U.S. government regulations and rules that all domestic private jet operators providing on-demand charter and jet card flights operate.
Pilot Experience – Jet card companies have different standards and minimums for pilot experience above government requirements, typically both for Captain and First Officer, and also by total hours of flight time and type in the type of aircraft they will be flying you.
Peak Day Surcharge – Most programs have surcharges for peak travel days. The number of peak days vary by program as do the surcharge. If you are buying a jet card in anticipation of flying during busy holiday periods and aren’t flexible to move your dates, you should study any peak travel surcharges or blackout dates. Surcharges range up to 40%.
Pet Policy – Most programs allow you to take certain types of pets. Some programs have mandatory or discretionary cleaning fees. If you are using a broker or managed fleet program it pays to triple check their policy since they don’t have the final say on pet policies – that’s up to the actual owners of those aircraft.
Program Hours Denominations – Jet card programs are generally denominated in hours, for example, 10, 15, 25, 50 or 100 hours or dollars. The more hours you buy, typically, the lower your hourly rate.
Program Dollar Denominations – Jet card programs are generally denominated in dollars, for example, $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000 or hours. The higher the dollar value of the program you buy, the lower your hourly rate.
Refund Policy – Some programs will refund unused funds while others will not and others will allow you to roll it over to a new program. If you are unsure you are going to use all your hours or funds, you will want to pay attention to Refund Policy.
Refill Policy – Refill policy refers to enabling you to add money or hours to an existing program you purchased at the original terms.
Reservation Lead Time – Different programs require lead times that can range up to 48 hours to reserve your flight. Lead times can be longer during peak periods or for international flights. Lead time for programs that have fixed rate pricing tends to be longer, but starts as low as six hours.
Roundtrip Discount – Since roundtrip flying is more efficient for the operator, jet cards typically offer discounted roundtrip rates. Published discounts range up to 40% so if you are making qualifying roundtrip discounts it is something worth researching.
Roundtrip Qualification – What qualifies for a roundtrip flight in private aviation varies, but typically it is a period where your trip is short enough that the plane that flies you out can wait for you and fly your back thus eliminating empty leg (non-revenue) flights. Usually, it means at least two billable hours on a single day starting and returning to the same airport or at least two billable hours on consecutive days. To achieve a roundtrip discount you may have to complete all your day’s flights within 14 hours to comply with crew duty time limits
Service Area (Primary Service Area) – Some programs enable you to travel globally while others will only fly you in a limited area, typically North America and parts of the Caribbean, Mexico or possibly Hawaii. Some service areas aren’t country specific, but refer to a mileage limit outside of the Continental U.S. border. If you plan to use your jet card flying to Mexico or the Caribbean, for example, make sure the place you are flying is within the service area of the program you are buying as rates may vary.
Service Recovery – Outside of weather, different programs have different commitments for mechanical delays, pilots running out of flight hours, etc. This is another benefit compared to on-demand charter.
Taxi Time Billing – You will typically be charged for taxi time, generally 12 minutes per segment, which means if your hourly rate is $8,000 per hour, your account will be charged $1,600 per segment for taxi time. Not all programs charge for taxi time.
Unaccompanied Minor Travel Policy – Age limits for sending an unaccompanied minor privately on your program range from minimums of 5 to 18 years old, although some programs don’t have minimums. In some cases, you will need to pay additional fees for a flight attendant to accompany your child.
Wyvern Wingman – Wyvern Wingman is a third-party rating system of private aircraft operators measuring adherence to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards for safety management systems, emergency response plans, and internal evaluations. Included is a two-day, on-site audit recurring every 24 months.