In the world of private aviation, two of the most common options are fractional jet ownership and private jet charter. Both provide access to the luxury, convenience, and efficiency of private air travel, yet they offer distinctly different experiences.
The best choice for you depends on various factors like your travel frequency, budget, and your preferred level of commitment. Ultimately, your choice will significantly impact your overall flying experience, cost, and satisfaction with private aviation.
what's the difference between the two?
To understand the choice between fractional jet ownership and private jet chartering, it’s crucial to comprehend what these terms mean.
fractional jet ownership
Fractional jet ownership refers to the concept of shared ownership or leasing of a private aircraft. This model is similar to a timeshare in real estate, wherein multiple owners share the costs of owning and operating the aircraft.
Fractional owners purchase a “share” of an airplane, which equates to a certain number of flying hours per year. These shares are usually in increments like 1/16 or 1/8, which correspond to 50 or 100 flight hours annually.
Fractional ownership grants the benefits of private flight without the full burden of ownership costs and responsibilities. It’s worth noting, however, that having fractional ownership of a jet does not guarantee that you will fly on that specific tail number—it’s just a way to keep track of how many flight hours you get and which model of plane you’ll be using.
Private Jet Charter
On the other hand, a private jet charter is a service where you hire a private jet on an as-needed basis. Unlike fractional ownership, chartering doesn’t involve any ownership stake in an aircraft.
Instead, you pay a predetermined rate, typically calculated by flight hours, for each trip you take. The aircraft, crew, maintenance, and other logistics are handled by the charter company, relieving you of these responsibilities.
A charter is often more cost-effective for those who fly less frequently or whose flight needs vary widely.
how to choose the best option for you
When choosing the best way to fly, there are quite a few factors to consider. Ultimately, the best choice comes down to how often you fly, your budget, your level of commitment, and what kind of experience you’re looking for.
How Often Do You Fly?
If you’re someone who flies extensively—somewhere in the range of 100 to 200 hours per year—fractional jet ownership can be a more cost-effective and convenient choice. With this model, you have guaranteed availability of an aircraft and a fixed number of hours you can fly per year based on your share.
Furthermore, as a part-owner, you have more control over your flight experience, which can be a significant advantage for frequent flyers.
On the contrary, if you fly less frequently—less than 100 hours per year—chartering a private jet can be the more prudent choice. The charter model offers a pay-as-you-go system that can be more economical for occasional flyers.
You only pay for the flights you take without needing to worry about ongoing ownership costs or the commitment to a specific aircraft. This model also provides great flexibility, allowing you to choose different types of aircraft for different trips.
What’s Your Budget?
Fractional jet ownership comes with considerable upfront investment, often running into six figures. This payment buys you a “share” of a specific aircraft type, granting you access to a set number of flight hours per year.
Additionally, fractional owners are responsible for a monthly management fee, covering costs like maintenance, insurance, and crew salaries. On top of this, owners also pay an hourly operating fee when they fly, covering direct costs such as fuel, catering, and landing fees. The larger your share, the more flight hours you have access to — but the costs will also rise higher.
By the end of your ownership, you’ll likely have spent over a million dollars on all of the costs combined.
Contrarily, private jet charters operate on a variable, market-based pricing model. The cost of a charter flight depends on various factors, including aircraft type, flight distance, and current market rates.
You pay a variable hourly rate for each trip, and unlike fractional ownership, you only pay for the flight hours you use. There are no upfront costs, ownership fees, or long-term financial commitments. This payment structure can make private jet charter more accessible for those with a tighter budget or less predictable flight needs.
If you’d like to pay a fixed rate for your hours, you may want to look into Jet Cards, which allow you to pay for your hours up front.
are you ready to commit?
Fractional ownership involves a substantial contractual commitment, often spanning three to five years. As a fractional owner, you invest in a share of a specific aircraft and are subsequently obligated to make regular payments, regardless of how often you fly. This option is similar to the financial commitment of owning a private jet, although to a lesser degree.
On the contrary, a private jet charter represents a decidedly short-term commitment. When chartering, you only pay for flights you book, with no ongoing financial obligations or locked-in contracts. This pay-as-you-go model affords you the flexibility to adjust your private flight usage according to your changing needs.
You could charter a jet for a one-off occasion or book regular flights—the choice is entirely in your hands without the pressure of a long-term contract.
Will You Be Flying a Variety of Different Trips?
Fractional jet ownership might restrict your flexibility in this sense. Since you own a share in a particular aircraft, your flight options are primarily tied to the capabilities and limitations of that jet type. For instance, if you own a share in a mid-size jet but need to make a transcontinental trip, you might find your aircraft’s range inadequate.
Although some fractional programs offer the option to exchange flight hours across different aircraft types within their fleet, such changes often come with a premium, potentially offsetting some of the cost benefits. Because of this, if your travel needs vary widely, fractional ownership may not be the most convenient or cost-effective choice.
If your travel patterns are diverse—ranging from quick domestic flights one week to long-haul international flights the next—private jet chartering offers unparalleled versatility. It allows you to select the most suitable aircraft for each trip, offering an expansive range of choices from very light jets to heavy or ultra-long-range aircraft.
It’s worth noting that Magellan’s Jet Card programs also allow you to seamlessly interchange between aircraft types, affording you the ultimate flexibility.
What Kind of Experience Are You Looking For?
For those who value the consistency as well as the prestige associated with jet ownership, fractional jet ownership can be an attractive choice. It emulates the full ownership experience by providing consistent access to the same type of jet, giving you a familiar environment each time you fly. This can also come with added benefits like premium concierge services and personalized in-flight amenities.
On the other hand, private jet chartering is about securing private air travel in the most flexible and cost-effective way. While you may not have control over the specific aircraft for each trip, chartering allows you to fly privately and adjust your experience as needed so that you can still enjoy the benefits of private air travel.
the bottom line
Fractional jet ownership is an excellent option for those who fly often (100 to 200 hours per year), seek the consistency of a specific aircraft type, and are ready for a long-term commitment. It delivers an experience similar to owning a private jet at a fraction of the cost.
On the other hand, private jet charter is ideal for less frequent fliers or those whose travel requirements vary widely. It offers flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and requires no long-term commitment. If your priority is the freedom to choose the right jet for each journey without being tied to an ongoing contract, chartering is the way to go.
As you consider your options, remember that Magellan Jets offers flexible, on-demand private jet charter services designed to cater to a diverse range of travel needs. With a commitment to safety, service, and excellence, we can be your reliable partner in the sky, ready to take your private aviation experience to the next level.
If you’re ready to explore safe, seamless, and elevated private aviation solutions with Magellan, call us today at 877-550-5387—or, click the button below to explore ways to fly.