If you’re evaluating jet cards, membership and other private jet services, make sure you do your due diligence. Unfortunately, there are many types of programs and providers that aren’t upfront about fees, availability and other aspects that make difference for your travel experience. Before you invest in business aviation services, learn about you these private jet gotchas and the steps you can take to avoid them.
Avoid These Private Jet Gotchas
Peak Days & Surcharges
Unbeknownst to many of their clients, certain private jet companies will designate busy travel days during the year (such as the holiday season) as peak days. Due to the increase in activity and decrease in available aircraft that occur during peak days, some jet card, fractional and other private jet programs will enact gotchas like aircraft restrictions and peak surcharges. Additionally, some companies won’t guarantee pricing or the ability to interchange between aircraft. Ideally, private jet flyers should find a program that has no peak days or peak travel surcharges.
Ferry & Overnight Fees
In order to have pilots and crews in place for certain missions, they may have to stay overnight at a destination or require extensive travel to get to the private terminal in time for take off. While many jet card and membership programs don’t pass these fees onto guests, unfortunately, some aren’t as transparent and will actually charge you for ferry or overnight fees. Before you make any trip plans, talk to your private jet provider to make sure you aren’t on the hook for these additional expenses.
Other gotchas that fractional owners, in particular, need to look out for are management fees. Although many fractional programs tout low hourly rates, these kinds of providers often fail to inform guests that they must pay monthly management fees too. That means tens of thousands of dollars are spent to maintain an aircraft that’s shared among several owners, even though you aren’t personally using that asset the majority of the time. Also, when you factor in monthly management fees, the actual hourly rate for flights is significantly higher. If you’re worried about management fees, avoid them by exploring transparent options like jet cards.
Hours That Expire
For travelers interested in jet cards, make sure you ask your provider this key question: do my hours expire? With jet card programs, guests often make a large upfront investment in order to purchase a set amount of hours at a certain rate. However, some private jet programs have jet card gotchas where unused hours expire after a certain time period. If that happens, then your entire investment turns into a waste. Make sure you find a jet card provider that doesn’t have hours that expire.
No Aircraft Availability
While many fractional providers promise their guests that they will always fly on the aircraft they’ve invested in, that’s not always the truth. In fact, many fractional companies prioritize their largest accounts, which means owners with smaller shares are forced to fly on an entirely different aircraft in the fleet. In some cases when on-fleet aircraft are limited, these companies will end up flying their fractional owners on aircraft sourced from an outside operator. If guaranteed aircraft availability is important to you, make sure you invest in a program that keeps its promises.
Lack of Customer Service
Most private flyers expect a high level of customer service throughout the entire travel experience. While many companies promise excellence, that’s not always the case. As one of the most important private jet gotchas to avoid, guests must research a company’s approach to customer service before investing. Certain providers lack the staff and internal infrastructure to answer questions timely or handle last-minute requests. Only fly with a trusted provider that is there for you 24/7, 365 days a year to help you with whatever you may need.