By purchasing a jet card you are buying a block of time on a private aircraft. You can buy cards from many charter brokers and charter operators and all the big fractional and closed fleet operators offer prepaid access time. A jet card typically locks in a price per hour that won't change during the use of those hours. These locked in hourly rates are normally good for either a year or two years.
There are two broad structures for jet cards:
- Plane specific – where you prepay for a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type. These are typically 25 hour cards, but we’ve also seen cards for as few as 5 hours and for up to 50 hours.
- Debit card – where you deposit an initial sum, often starting at $100,000, and then the operator draws from this sum as you use different aircraft at fixed hourly rates. The initial deposit could be lower, for instance we’ve seen them at $50,000. Or could be higher, which may get you a lower hourly rate on each aircraft type.
All flights are conducted under FAA Part 135 charter regulations, and so you will have to pay the 7.5 % per-leg federal excise tax.
One of the great advantages for card holders is that you are usually not billed directly for deadhead, or unoccupied hours. In other words the rate for one way trips are usually built into the hourly rate for the card. This makes the price per hour for these one way trips fairly competitive, but means that return round trips can be more expensive (than other methods such as charter), although some jet card providers do offer discounts for round trips.
Another big advantage is the consistency of service. With the large fleet operators, such as fractional operators, you'll be flying on their fleet of consistently equipped and maintained aircraft. With the charter brokers you'll have one point of call to arrange your travel needs.
Note, in 2021 and into 2022, due to record levels of demand, several jet card providers have closed their programs to new customers, and card prices have increased quite significantly. In 2022, with the increasing cost of fuel, many jet card providers have added fuel surcharges, or increased their hourly rates.
Read the latest jet card news below and access the full detailed comparison to the right.
HondaJet operator Volato has launched a jet card program which is ideal for travelers who have some flexibility and for whom the HondaJet fits their mission requirements.
One of the largest jet card companies, Sentient Jet is projecting 2022 revenue to reach $460MM, a 11.3% increase from 2021. The jet card provider also says from 35% to 40% of all Sentient Jet flights will be booked digitally during 2022, compared with just 15% of flights prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Aviation solutions provider Magellan Jets has brought back their popular college tours 15-Hour jet card. Aimed at busy families, the card allows parents and students to visit their top universities in one weekend, trips can be spread out to meet the families needs.
Priester Aviation, one of the largest private jet operators, is bringing back its Centerline Jet Card. Priester says this 25 hour, guaranteed availability product is for customers who fly frequently and expect concierge-level service.
Vista Global Holding (Vista), one of the world’s leading private aviation groups, has acquired private jet operator Jet Edge. This is Vista's seventh acquisition since 2018, and increases its global fleet to over 350 owned and managed aircraft.
The leading private jet operator NetJets has said it will not be offering jet cards in 2022. Its current focus is on its fractional jet and lease programs and continuing to offer the service levels to these owners.
Rankings of the leading fractional aircraft and charter operators, showing the largest players in each of these private aviation sectors. Both charter and fractional grew significantly in 2021, as people flocked to private aviation to avoid crowded commercial airports and flights during the pandemic.
Wheels Up, one of the largest private aviation companies is buying international aviation services group Air Partner. Both companies offer memberships or jet cards, which provide access to private aircraft at fixed hourly rates. Both are also among the few private aviation companies that are publicly listed.