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 such as ARG/US and Wyvern to guide sourcing of planes for their jet card programs.
Annual 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 increased based on CPI.
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 Compact Jets, Light or Small Cabin Jets, Super Light Jets, Super Midsize Cabin Jets, Large Cabin Jets, and Large Cabin Heavy Jets.
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 provide service on specific dates.
Destination Surcharge – Some programs have surcharges for travel outside the U.S.
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 charge the Federal Excise Tax additionally meaning additional costs over your hourly rate. There can also be per passenger costs by segment that vary by where you are flying. At up to 7.5% per flight, costs can add up.
Flight Attendant Inclusion – Some programs provide flight attendants on specific aircraft types 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.
Fuel Surcharge – During periods of fuel price increases, many programs reserve the right to impose fuel surcharges.
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.
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 10, 15 or 20-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 and minis of alcoholic beverages, and 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.
Liability and Risk Coverage (Insurance) – Programs provide varying amounts of liability and risk coverage.
Maximum 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.
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 size of plane.
Multiple Same Time Aircraft Access – This allows you 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 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.
Owned/Managed Fleet – Some jet card and pre-paid program providers either directly own or operate the planes they use to fulfill your program. Others acts as brokers going out to the market to source planes for you. In these cases they are acting as a broker.
Pilot Experience – Jet card companies have different standards and minimums for pilot experience, so you should compare their different rules and regulations.
Peak Travel Surcharge – Most programs have surcharges for peak 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, you should study any peak travel surcharges or blackout dates.
Pet Policy – Most programs allow you to take certain types of pets. Some programs have mandatory or discretionary cleaning fees.
Program Hours Denominations – Jet card programs are generally denominated in hours, for example 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 $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 24 hours to reserve your flight. Lead times can be longer during peak periods or for international flights.
Roundtrip Discount – These discounts are more typical of the charter market and jet card programs mostly offer you roundtrip pricing.
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.
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.
Service Recovery – Outside of weather, different programs have different commitments for mechanical delays, pilots running out of flight hours, etc.
Taxi Time Billing – You will typically be charged for taxi time, typically 12 minutes per segment, which means if your hourly rate is $8,000 per hour, your account will be charged $960 per segment 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.