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.
Fractional and jet card provider Flexjet had paused card sales during the record demand of the covid pandemic. It has been adding multiple new planes to its fleet and has restarted jet card sales.
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.
Locally-focused private aviation company Jet Linx has announced the limited resumption of its Executive jet card sales. New card sales were temporarily suspended in late 2021 to ensure Jet Linx maintained guaranteed services to its jet card members nationwide during the spike in peak travel over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. Commencing January 1st, sales of new jet cards will be limited and subject to a waitlist at each Jet Linx private terminal location based upon the capacity of Jet Linx's exclusive closed fleet of private jet aircraft and the status of Membership Tier priority.
Air Partner, the global aviation services group, has introduced auto-enrolment for all its private jet and group charter clients into a Carbon Offsetting scheme. This includes all its jet card clients.
The whole of the private aviation industry is facing record demand for flights. This demand is driving up prices and several large jet card providers are even pausing new card sales.
Just a few weeks ago NetJets announced it was pausing jet card sales on its light jets. It has now extended this pause to all sales of jet cards across the whole fleet.
The newly public Wheels Up (NYSE:UP) recently announced results for the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2021. The highlights show revenue increased 113% year-over-year to $285.6 million, live flight legs increased 146% year-over-year to 18,234 and active members grew 47% year-over-year to 10,515 in total.
NetJets says its owners are traveling more than ever and that “flight volume is at a record high.” At the same time, it has “exhausted the production capacity of some OEM partners”, so it is stopping sales of new jet cards on the Citation XLS and Phenom 300 – the smallest planes in its fleet.
Air Partner plc has reported strong growth in its JetCard product, driven by US activity. The company says bookings, members and customer deposits are up globally as travel restrictions ease.
Jet Card holders may fly on aircraft certified under either (FAA) part 135 charter or part 91k fractional regulations. The aviation services company ARGUS released numbers for the largest part 135 charter operators and the largest fractional aircraft operators. Here’s a discussion of the largest card providers.
Jet card providers NetJets and Flexjet have both expressed interest in the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet. Flexjet placed an order for 20 of the aircraft back in 2015 and NetJets recently obtained purchase rights for 20 planes.
Sentient Jet, the inventor of jet cards, achieved 60% year over year growth and ended 2020 with $450 million in jet card sales. As with most other private aviation companies, Sentient saw a large influx of new customers who want to travel but are keen to avoid commercial aviation during the pandemic. In 2020 Sentient Jet saw 2/3 of its jet card purchases come from new clients compared to only 1/3 pre-COVID.
During 2020, the global business aviation company VistaJet saw an increase of 29% in new subscription memberships year-on-year. This is VistaJet’s equivalent of a jet card product offering fixed hourly rates.
The 2021 Super Bowl sees two superstars face each other who are both signed to endorse private aviation companies. Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs is partnered with Airshare and Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has teamed with Wheels Up.
Private aviation firm Wheels Up is going public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp. The transaction gives Wheels Up an enterprise value of $2.1 billion. Once the transaction is completed, the company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "UP".
Wheels Up has just acquired Mountain Aviation, which has the largest and growing Part 135-operated Citation X fleet in the United States, with bases in Denver, Teterboro, and Southern California.
Under the CARES Act there is no 7.5% federal excise taxes (FET) on jet cards and jet charter flights purchased before Dec. 31, 2020. This means you can potentially pay for a jet card in 2020 and travel FET free in 2021 and beyond. This article includes some of the leading companies who are offering FET free jet cards for future travel.