It’s Thanksgiving eve, and more than 30 million Americans are expected to be hitting the not-so-friendly skies this holiday. As is the way with commercial air travel, lines will be long, delays are inevitable, and travelers will be cranky. This is the time of year when travelers who have “had it up to here” with the stress of flying commercial begin looking for alternatives. Hassle free private air travel offers an appealing reprieve for those who can afford it and end-of-year deals and tax incentives make the holiday season a popular time to buy in.
No one wants to miss out on a good deal, especially one for a big-ticket item like a fractional jet share or a jet card. Indeed, some incentives from private jet companies may expire at the end of 2018, but new, and in some cases better, deals most certainly will be available in January. Some prices no doubt will go up in the new year, but it’s important to remember that with a fractional jet share purchase, charges such as management fees and hourly rates for flying will increase in January even if you buy now.
End of year advertisements that dangle the prospect of holiday trips via a private jet, rather than say the cramped middle seat of a commercial airliner, are enticing, but it is critical to remember that the holidays will include “peak travel days” when you may not be guaranteed access to your private jet.
All that said, don’t necessarily hold off on making a deal; rather do your homework and don’t rush into a big purchase. The cost of making the wrong deal will far outweigh any year-end benefits and incentives.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you consider any private air travel investment:
Know Your Travel Profile
Make sure that you assess your needs carefully and thoroughly. How many flight hours do you need? Where do you intend to fly? What’s your budget (both for the initial purchase and on an ongoing basis). Do you have any special needs, such as luggage requirements or the ability to fly two flights simultaneously, if say, you’re flying family in from various locations?
Identify the Best Type of Program for You
Is a fractional share your best bet? Or is a fractional jet card more appropriate? Would you be better off with a block charter jet card? Or would traditional charter best serve your needs?
Once you determine the right type of program, shop around to find the provider that best suits your needs and budget.
Know the Cost
Use a sharp pencil and estimate the total cost of this investment. Include fuel surcharges, expense increases and, in the case of fractionals, conservatively estimate the resale value of the share.
Read the Fine Print
The contracts, and not that beautiful brochure, will govern your rights and obligations. These documents may look simple, but read carefully and make sure you understand them. And, remember that, despite what the salesperson is telling you, certain aspects of these contracts are negotiable.
We traditionally close many deals at the end of the year. In doing so, we counsel our clients that there’s always time to be thorough. The same is true for you.
James D. Butler is an attorney and CEO of Shaircraft Solutions – a Maryland based consulting firm advising individuals and businesses on investments in private air travel for over twenty years. A foremost private aviation authority, Mr. Butler has in-depth knowledge of the full spectrum of today’s private aviation options, including fractional ownership, jet card programs and charter, and also specializes in fractional share valuation disputes. Shaircraft’s clients range from business executives and retirees to family offices and professional athletes. Mr. Butler can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 652-9885.
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