Wheels Up has been selling its core membership via Costco for years. The offering is getting more attention after The Washington Post recently highlighted it. Is it a good deal?
Hint: It depends on if you choose to fund a Wheels Up deposit account
Since 2016 Wheels Up has been selling memberships in its pay-as-you-go jet card memberships via Costco on a seasonal basis. It’s not alone when it comes to other high-end products and services. You can buy diamonds and luxury cruises at the discount retailer.
Tom Janki, Chairman George Mattson, CEO Todd Smith, Chief Financial Officer Kristin Lauria, Chief Customer & Marketing Officer Mark Briffa, Chief Commercial Officer Laura Heltebran, Chief Legal Officer Stevens J. Sainte-Rose, Chief People Officer Phil Dodyk, Chief Aircraft Management Officer David Godsman, Chief Digital Officer Srikanth Satya, Chief Technology Officer Dave Holtz, Chairman, Operations Timothy Armstrong, Director Kenny Dichter, Director
Delta Air Lines, Certares, Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle, Avianis, Mountain Aviation
Following a SPAC merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle in July 2021, Wheels Up is a pure-play publicly traded private jet operator and broker. It trades on the NYSE under the symbol UP.
Wheels Up Experience Inc. is the new name of Wheels Up Partners Holdings LLC following its merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp in July 2021, making it a public company.
It continues to be known as Wheels Up.
In 2022 it was the third largest charter/fractional operator in the U.S., behind NetJets and Flexjet. In a 20-month span through January 2021, it acquired TMC Jets, tech platform Avianis, Delta Private Jets, Gama Aviation Signature, and Mountain Aviation. In February 2022, it acquired Alanate Air Charter, adding 12 light jets.
The acquisition of Delta Private Jets made Delta Air Lines the largest shareholder in the company (Review private jet fractional and membership company M&A activity with our PRIVATE AVIATION DEAL BOOK.) Following Wheels Up’s IPO, Delta Air Lines remains the largest shareholder.
Its most recent changes, announced on Nov. 1, 2022, go into effect on Dec. 1, 2022.
It has a wide variety of partnerships, including the NFL Players Association, Porsche, American Express, Costco, Landry’s, Waldorf Astoria, and Inspirato.
It said it would launch a helicopter service via a partnership with Textron Bell in 2021. No further announcements have been made.
The company was founded in 2013 by its CEO, Kenny Dichter, and veterans of Marquis Jet Partners. It is based in New York City.
Wheels Up is included in Private Jet Card Comparisons’ database of over 50 jet card providers, enabling you to compare programs in minutes.
When was the company founded?
Who owns Wheels Up?
The company is publicly traded on the NYSE as UP. Delta Air Lines is the largest shareholder with 52 million shares, representing 21.3% of oustanding shares. Fidelity related entities hold 17.5 million shares. Founder Kenny Dichter owns 13.2 million shares, representing 5.4% of equity as of February 2022.
Who is the CEO?
On May 9, 2023, CFO Todd Smith was named Interim CEO and Ravi Thakran was appointed Executive Chairman. Kenny Dichter is the founder and former CEO, and held Chairman and CEO roles until May 2023. He previously founded Marquis Jet Partners in 2001 generating approximately $4 billion in jet card sales before selling to NetJets in 2010.
How are aircraft sourced?
The company uses owned and managed aircraft, plus private jets from vetted charter operators. As of December 2021, it has approximately 250 owned, leased, and managed aircraft.
The first-year initiation fee for families and individuals is $17,500 for its Core membership. Renewal is $8,500. It also has a corporate program, while the Wheels Up Connect program targets flight-sharing and is priced at $2,950. There are discounts and flight credits for American Express Platinum and Centurion members.
Do they provide guaranteed availability?
Yes, with limited exceptions based on program level
Is the hourly rate guaranteed?
Yes. On its Core Membership and Corporate Membership, Wheels Up offers capped hourly rates. It then tries to provide lower rates using its owned and managed fleet of over 350 aircraft and an additional safety-vetted fleet of over 1,200 private jets and turboprops.
Can jet card holders/members use multiple aircraft at the same time?