Private jet cards are marketed as a convenient way to fly private. They provide customers with the ability to purchase hours of flight time in advance at a fixed 'bulk discount'. The appeal of these cards is understandable; who wouldn't want the convenience of guaranteed availability and a fixed price on a private jet, with no hassle and "no hidden fees"?
However, there are some drawbacks to consider before signing up for a jet card. In this article, we'll take a closer look at five of the most important factors to keep in mind when making your decision.
Before we dive in, let's first take a quick look at what private jet cards are and how they work.
A private jet card is essentially a membership service that allows customers to purchase hours of flight time on a private jet. Depending on your scheduling needs, you prepay a number of flight hours in advance, and these hours are deducted each time you take a private jet trip. In essence, a private jet card can be thought of as a prepaid debit card for private flights.
Jet card providers can offer different memberships levels, depending on the number of hours you need, the airports/countries you fly to and the type of aircraft you prefer.
There are a number of reasons why people might be drawn to private jet cards. Perhaps the biggest draw is the convenience factor; with a jet card, you don't have to worry about negotiating prices each time you plan a trip, as you're paying a set fee for each hour of travel.
The predictability of costs is a major selling point; since you're paying for a set number of hours in advance, you don't have to worry about any hidden fees or surprise charges popping up later on.
Many jet card membership providers may also offer an availability guarantee, meaning that you can rest assured knowing that a private jet will always be available to you, even on short notice.
While the concept behind private jet cards is simple enough and it does show some advantages, there are a few key things to keep in mind before signing up for one.
First and foremost, it's important to understand that you most likely will end up paying more for your flights when using a private jet card.
The reason behind this is simple; in order to compensate for varying prices and costs, the hourly fee is usually a lot higher compared to on-demand private jet charter flights. End even though jet cards provide you a bulk discount rate, you are bound by that rate for the duration of your membership, making it impossible to negotiate any prices for future bookings.
In other words, you're essentially paying a premium for the convenience of having a set price.
Also, it's important to point out that you could end up paying for more flight hours than you actually use. This is because most jet card providers require customers to purchase a minimum number of hours up front, and these hours must be used within a certain time period.
Bulk rates can be attractive if you have a good idea about the number of hours you plan to fly in the coming months, but if your needs change, these jet cards offer very little flexibility outside of the initial contract.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the big selling points of private jet cards is the predictability of costs. However, this doesn't mean that your total cost will be limited to just the hourly rate or that you won't encounter any hidden fees.
The hourly rate is only one part of the cost equation.
In fact, many jet card providers charge a number of additional fees, such as for cancellations, rising fuel prices and unexpected circumstances. These can quickly add up, so it's important to be aware of them before signing up for any jet card-type memberships.
Also, if your itinerary forces you to depart from the agreed aircraft and jet card conditions, for example when traveling outside of the agreed geographical area or with additional passengers, expect to pay a significant overage.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to flying private. Every client's needs are different, and this is reflected in the wide variety of aircraft types that are available for charter.
From small turboprops to large long-range jets, there's an aircraft out there that's perfect for every trip.
However, when you sign up for a jet card, you're typically limited to flying on a specific type and size of aircraft. This means that you might not be able to get the aircraft you want, when you want it. Imagine having paid €100,000+ for your private jet card, only to be told that your aircraft does not have the range or number of seats for your intended trip.
This is why we believe tailor-made solutions are always a better option than pre-packaged deals like private jet cards.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, depending on the jet card provider, you might be locked into a contract. These contracts can range from 12 months to 3 years, and they typically have strict cancellation policies.
If you can imagine how hard it is to get out of a €20/month gym membership, you may understand why getting out of a 3-year private jet card contract can be a daunting task.
Also, making a €50,000+ downpayment is a big commitment and you could ask yourself if you want to be locked into this type of contract. If your needs are uncertain or change frequently, it might be best to avoid a jet card and go with a pay-as-you-go option.
Private jets offer the ultimate in luxury, convenience and flexibility. The last thing you want is to be restricted in where you can fly.
Unfortunately, this is often the case with private jet cards. Many providers will only allow you to fly to and from specific airports, or they may limit the number of destination options. This can be a major inconvenience, especially if you're unsure about the destinations you will be flying to at the time of purchasing the jet card.
Private jet cards can be a convenient way to book private flights, but they also have a number of disadvantages that you should be aware of before signing up for one. In most cases, you'll end up paying more than you would if you booked your flights individually. Not having to negotiate prices each time you fly may seem like a big advantage, but it's important to remember that you're also locked into a fixed price, which is often much more expensive in terms of hourly pricing.
So, if you're considering signing up for a private jet card, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.
The Aviation Factory is convinced that by “working the market” for every request you have, guarantees you that a team of brokers look for the best solutions for you. If we don't find you the best deal, you are free to consider any alternative.
We have to prove ourselves every time.
With a prepaid jet card, which certainty will you have that the broker team performs? Private jet rental is all about finding the best solution each time and preparing your flight into the tiniest detail. You could ask yourself, will a broker actually be motivated to go the extra mile if the next 20 flights are already prepaid? We like to think a client is best served if a broker has to deliver the best solution for each flight.
"A broker like The Aviation Factory rents thousands of hours on many aircraft types. Their conditions make you benefit from prices that are well below a 20 or 50-hour card", says Thomas Van Meerbeeck, partner at The Aviation Factory.
Feel free to contact our team with any questions you might have or to request a tailor-made quote for your next trip. With 3000+ flights each year, we're sure we will be able to find you the best prices on the market!