When planning your next getaway, utilizing a private jet is a great way to travel with the luxury and convenience you and your group deserve. There are many cost-effective options at your disposal to access a private jet – namely, charter and private jet memberships/card programs. The membership vs. aircraft charter debate can be complex, so it’s best to understand how each option works so you can make a choice that best fits your needs and desires.

Aircraft Charter

When you charter an aircraft, you are essentially renting the aircraft for just your trip and for that period of time. Charter can be a great option for quick trips, since you will keep the plane with you for the duration of the trip, and the aircraft is exclusively available to you. Therefore, if you are chartering for an extended trip and plan to only use the plane for travel there and back, having the aircraft remain with you for the whole trip time period can get expensive. Other details to keep in mind when considering aircraft charter:

  • More cost effective than fractional ownership or membership cards
  • Ability to choose from a variety of aircraft types on a trip-by-trip basis
  • No long-term contracts or fixed monthly management fees
  • No guarantee of aircraft availability
  • You’ll need to negotiate the price each time you fly
  • Required to pay daily minimums for the aircraft, whether you are using it or not
  • You may incur charges for the aircraft flight time to position to your departure airport and return to its home base at the completion of the trip

If aircraft charter is the route you choose to take, the next step is to identify charter operators that meet your travel requirements. Identifying a few operators to work with will allow you to develop a relationship with different operators and provide you with more options to closely align with your aircraft style and operational requirements you are looking to receive and to meet your defined travel requirements.

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Private Jet Membership/Card Programs

When considering membership/card programs, it’s critical to identify your objective, flexibility, and aircraft requirements. Membership/Card programs are ideal if you do not need to fly frequently during the year and if you would appreciate flexibility in the aircraft needed for each trip. Typically, you’ll be required to purchase a minimum of 25 hours per year. When evaluating which program to use, it is critical to understand how your selected provider sources its aircraft, which operators they utilize, along with the terms and conditions of the funds being put on the account. Like aircraft charters, membership/card programs have benefits and drawbacks you should consider:

  • Fixed capital cost to purchase the hours
  • You only pay for occupied flight hours
  • Higher cost per flight hour
  • Longer advance notice to reserve your aircraft

There are slight differences between membership and card programs that also should be kept in mind. Membership programs require that clients agree to a fixed cost per hour by aircraft type or size, as well as the payment of an initial signup or initiation fee along with annual membership fees. Once you are a member, you fly as you please. Card programs, on the other hand, have two varieties. Clients may purchase a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type with the ability to upgrade or downgrade based on agreed interchange rates. The other card option is a debit card, where your funds are held on account by the provider and the account is debited for the cost of each trip once completed.

Help Is Just a Click Away

As you continue to weigh membership programs vs. charter, there are many expert resources at your disposal. We suggest reaching out to trained aviation consultants and advisors who can guide you through the process of chartering an aircraft or participating in a private jet membership program.

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