Jet memberships are popular, but they won’t benefit all types of travelers
Private jet memberships have grown in popularity in recent years for many reasons, most of which are economical. Users are offered up-front pricing with access to a range of aircraft at periods throughout the year commensurate with their membership tier.
A few larger charter firms offer exclusive cards that only apply to their fleet. Other cards are offered by brokerages that give you access to a broader range of aircraft. These, however, can often be subject to more restrictions.
Global Air Charters is an on-demand private charter service that does not offer a jet card membership or require deposits for hours. Our brokers and flight coordinators work hard to offer bespoke aviation services tailored to our clients’ requests.
Like everything in private air travel, jet card programs work for some and not for others. It is important to know whether a private jet membership card will fit your travel lifestyle, and if so, which one?
How Often Are You Flying?
If you are primarily a vacation flier taking two or three trips in a year, private jet membership cards are probably not your best bet. With these cards, you often pay upfront pricing that only works to your advantage if you fly at least 30 hours per year. Many vacation fliers fall short of that mark and can lose thousands of dollars of their card investment.
If you charter jets seldomly, a better approach might be to establish a relationship with a reputable broker or a company that operates aircraft you like. Using the services of a broker grants you access to numerous aircraft operated by the companies your broker trusts. Even though brokers charge a percentage of what you pay to fly, this approach is significantly more cost-effective if you don’t fly often.
Direct Membership Jet Cards vs. Brokerage Membership Jet Cards
You have found a charter operator that you love, congratulations! You might want to see what membership programs they offer. If you have found a company that meets your needs, delivers a world-class product, and cares about establishing a relationship with you, they probably have a program that will benefit you.
Direct membership jet cards are more exclusive but only grant you access to limited aircraft. Larger companies still organize their membership programs into tiers whereby you pay a substantial sum upfront for access to lower hourly rates during certain agreed-upon times. If you like the charter company you’ve found and you’re continually paying for commuter-type air travel, a direct membership card is a good option.
Brokerage membership cards are suitable for those who like the brokerage where they book charters and fly frequently enough on different aircraft types. Brokerage memberships still include an hourly quota to reap the benefits they offer. But a brokerage membership can be well worth the money if you’re traveling enough, say in smaller jets for work travel and larger airframes for family trips.
With either option, choose a card based on doing business with a company you know and trust. These memberships are a commitment, so be sure you’re comfortable with an ongoing relationship with a company that won’t surprise you with hidden fees or fail to deliver the exceptional product you expect.
Or Just Fly Solo
If travelers don’t have a private jet membership card, how can they still fly private when they want? Since they are free from any restrictions a membership program imposes, their options are not as limited as you might think.
Solo flyers often have solid relationships with a few good brokers and perhaps even some of the best charter companies in the business. They get access to empty leg lists before others, and they charter flights during peak travel periods for the premium price because it is still significantly cheaper than buying a jet. Being free to explore your options in on-demand charter will lead you to discover one-of-a-kind brokers and operators alike.
The only disadvantage to this strategy is that it requires more leg work than just signing up for a membership program. The benefits include being able to fly during peak seasons while others might be stuck for an extra day or two, you get to know more people, and you might just discover a boutique company that beats out all the rest.
Are Private Jet Cards a Good Investment?
Global Air Charters knows there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to private air travel and that there are many ways to find and receive value in this market. We are privileged to work with several world-class flight brokers and are happy to facilitate an introduction to any clients who wish to learn more about their services.
In short, the more frequent and predictable your travel needs are, the more private jet cards make sense as an investment. Make sure you trust the operator or broker before signing up. And if you have any reservations about joining, remember that you can find private charters without them.