What’s the best way to charter a private jet? Brokers often say on-demand charter beats jet cards. We look at the case one broker is making.
Needless to say, jet cards have been the hot spot of private aviation with the number of providers and programs having more than doubled in the past 10 years. Earlier today we received an email from a charter broker outlining its case against jet cards. Our position – despite our name – is that it’s not a black or white answer, but we were interested to see what the arguments were and to add our thoughts.
Alto is the new points-based frequent flyer program targeting private jet fliers who use Victor’s on-demand brokerage. We give you our evaluation – Is it worth it?
First, among major airlines, there was American Airlines and its AAdvantage Frequent Flier program back in 1981. Its compelling proposition of free flights to Hawaii made it an instant hit. Within months came everyone else. In the world of jet cards and fractional ownership, there have long been referral programs. Refer a friend (or enemy) and earn free flight hours, which with hourly rates of up to $10,000 or more, can be well, valuable. When buying cards, you can also try to wrangle an extra hour when you are signing. For on-demand charter, it has been mainly a trip to the Grand Bazaar with each journey a new opportunity to hone your skills and ask your broker, “Are you sure you can’t do a bit better?” Yesterday, U.K.-based charter broker Victor said it had launched its own frequent flier program hoping to develop loyalty with rightfully fickle on-demand charter customers who are conditioned to shop for a deal.
There’s a lot to like about Air Partner’s jet card program, but don’t tell your friends
Jet cards are in a bull market for several reasons in our opinion. They are the easy way to charter. Once you find the right card program (which is what we help you do) getting airborne is literally one call away. In many ways, jet cards are really the Uber of private aviation. You already know all the various policies – what’s included, what’s not. You know the standards for sourcing aircraft and the minimum requirements for the pilots who will fly you. Jet cards also don’t require the three to five-year commitment that fractional ownership entails, and once you figured out which program is a fit, it’s a relatively easy transaction compared to the consultants and multiple contracts buying a share entails. That’s why many jet card providers rightfully have lofty goals for growth. Air Partner is not one of them.
When you charter on-demand, buy a full aircraft or fractional share, you buy a specific aircraft type. What about jet card membership programs?
In case you haven’t noticed, most jet card programs specify cabin size, then fulfill your needs from a variety of aircraft types in that cabin category. In some cases that’s because you are buying your jet card from a management company and they are clustering all of the aircraft in that cabin size category together. In other cases, it’s a broker program that is sourcing aircraft from charter operators, including management companies and fleet operators. You’ll often see a range of seating for the aircraft that apply to that category, so in the SuperMid category you could get a jet that fits eight people one time and 10 the next. In Large Cabin jets it’s not unusual to see a range of 10 to 14 seats.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary the Boston-based jet card broker is bringing back its college tour jet card
If you didn’t visit colleges by private jet, your kids can thanks to Magellan Jets 10-hour jet card which can be tailored to whichever institutions of higher learning your favorite child is considering. Originally offered in 2015, Magellan’s president Anthony Tivnan tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that after the strong response, the private aviation seller of cards and on-demand charter decided to offer it again as part of a series of 10th-anniversary promotions this year.