Itching to travel safely during a pandemic?
Since quarantine started, all sorts of travelling have been put to a stop. For some people, this means cancelled trips, events, and not seeing family until restrictions are lifted. This is all part of "the new normal" that we are all dealing with.
However, there are some people out there who need to travel for urgent purposes. Let's say politicians, ambassadors, creatives, among other professionals, who need to get in and out of certain places every week. How can they sustain their careers while this pandemic is not yet over? Even if certain airports are already open, commercial flights are not their first choice.
Private aircraft types for rent have been on the rise and with that, jet cards. There are tons of reasons why people would hire a private charter jet for their travel needs. Now you might think that private aviation is a tricky business and way too expensive, so we're going to break down jet cards for you.
What is a 'jet card' and how does it work?
A jet card is a prepaid access tool that's designed to provide cardholders with the important features of private aviation services - guaranteed aircraft availability, flexibility with choices, and financial stability with known costs.
There are over 50 jet card providers and 300 jet card programs in the market. The jet card starts at 10 hours to 25 hours of flight time and an entry-level jet card program will require a deposit between 50,000 to 150,000 USD. But even those people who travel beyond 25 hours or 50 hours per year would benefit from having a private jet card. What makes jet cards so appealing is the premium convenience it will offer the passengers regarding all their aviation concerns.
What are the usual costs of hiring a private jet for travel needs?
Private jets are a different aircraft and we all know that hiring a private charter will be expensive because of the privacy, security, and sometimes luxurious services you can experience. But there are technical costs, too, that passengers usually overlook.
(Note that these are the base costs for a typical private charter jet without a jet card membership.)
- Billable flight time charges. This is basically the hourly rate of that specific aircraft you are renting plus the number of flying hours. For example, the lowest hourly rate of a Super Midsize Jet is 3,800 USD. This is the base rate you have to pay. You will then add the occupied flight time to this base rate, say 5 hours for a one-way service trip within the United States. Usually, the minimum flight hours (time in the air) is 2 hours. If you do not meet this, then there are some additional costs to be paid. Either way, the total payable value counts as your billable flight time charges.
- Aircraft type. Of course, the hourly rate varies for the specific aircraft you want. Jets can vary in passenger capacity. A light jet can have 6 to 8 passengers, while a heavy jet can hold 10 to 16 passengers but for twice the price. However, some people may still hire a heavy jet even if there will be less than 10 passengers. This is the case for people who need the space and security to transport heavy items via private jet. There are certain jets with more luxurious features too - often the choice for VIP celebrities and the like. With these luxurious services are additional charges.
- Fuel surcharges. Aviation is one form of transportation, after all. With that comes the need for buying fuel and the surcharges of the fluctuating oil market. These vary with peak days and seasons per year so you would be surprised how high the surcharges can be during certain seasons or events.
- Crew fees. You cannot travel without a well-trained cabin crew. When hiring private jets, you would also need to cover the hourly rates and salaries of the flight attendants and crew, any hotel fees, meals, local transportation, and insurance.
- Handling fees. Handling fees are additional costs for any services or features you wish to acquire in your chosen private aircraft. These also include safety standards, which come in handy if important products are being transported. Private aviation can be tricky because there are way more variables than in your typical commercial flights, so additional fees like this are a small price to pay. The extra security and peace of mind during your flight are worth it.
- Federal Excise Tax (FET). Lastly, using a private jet comes with taxes. Domestic flights in the United States are taxed 7.5% on top of all other charges.
With all these costs in mind, you might be thinking - how can anyone afford private charter jets when they are just too expensive?
This can be definitely be discouraging - but that's where jet card membership programs come in handy. You can literally cut down costs by a big percentage if you have your private jet card for private aviation travel. Maximum budget control is possible with this premium private air service.
What should you look out for before getting a jet card membership?
There are many jet card providers all over the globe, which have their own programs for interested parties. We will list down the things you need to look out for to make sure you are getting the best of the best.
Here is a short guide to a private jet card program that you can refer to.
- Check the jet card ownership. Providers can range from small-scale (with 10 employees) to large multinational companies. Smaller players will allow you to communicate directly with the owners which are great. However, larger brokers have more buying power and resources - which can benefit the cardholder in terms of saving costs.
- Primary Service Area (PSA). The PSA refers to the locations where you can fly. Once you fly outside of these areas, there are hourly surcharges and the additional costs we mentioned earlier in this article.
- Peak day policies. Peak day surcharges can be as high as 40% over your fixed hourly rates. Be sure to check that your provider will be flexible with travel dates and departure times to avoid future cancellations.
- Expiration and refunds. Jet card comparisons have shown that some program funds never expire but others will limit your card's validity between 12 and 24 months. Some will refund your unused deposits but others are non-refundable.
- Reservations, cancellations, and lead times. Thanks to the guaranteed availability programs, the lead time can be quite large - as little as six hours to even two weeks in advance. Check for cancellation policies as these are typically 24 to 48 hours.
All these premium benefits are very enticing for those who really travel as a part of their lifestyle. Hopefully, the short jet card comparisons gave you a good idea of the guaranteed service people with jet cards receive.
While taking a private jet is expensive to begin with, the jet card pricing will give a satisfying return of investment as you breeze through your flying hours every single time. Passengers who are used to flying in private jets can definitely vouch that there is nothing like it especially if you are off to an urgent engagement. Whether you take a sentient jet, phenom 300, or even a light jet, being a jet cardholder will serve you in more ways than one.