In his debut contribution to Private Jet Card Comparisons, jet expert and attorney, James Butler, encourages potential buyers to look beyond price when it comes to purchasing jet cards.
As someone who has built a business on analyzing the finer details of jet programs, Butler points out that not all jet card programs operate the same way. While most analyses of jet card programs lump all such “pay-as-you-go” offerings together, Butler counsels potential buyers to be aware of the difference between “fractional” jet card programs and “block charter” jet card programs.
“Fractional jet cards, like those offered by NetJets and Flexjet, utilize aircraft that are managed, operated, maintained and piloted end-to-end as part of a single fleet of aircraft,” explains Butler. “By contrast, what I call ‘block charter’ jet cards (because you purchase a block of hours) are offered by companies that essentially are charter clearinghouses—companies that make arrangements with various independent charter operators around the country to provide aircraft for their customers’ trips.”
Among the differences between fractional jet card and block charter card programs are:
- Aircraft Selection: Fractional jet card programs offer aircraft uniformity as you’ll be buying into a specific aircraft. You know what model jet you’ll be flying on. Block charter card programs, however, operate more like car rentals in that you are provided a model aircraft selected by the provider from a menu of options in a jet category, but are not guaranteed any particular model aircraft.
- Safety: Whereas fractional providers, “buttressed by their end-to-end management and operation,” adhere to the highest industry safety standards, block charter programs often rely on safety auditing services like Wyvern or ARG/US to review and certify their independent operators. “Even so,” Butler notes, “some block charter programs do not require that all participating operators maintain the highest-level certifications.”
- Reputation & Accountability: With fractional companies, you know who owns/operates the jet you’ll be flying on. By contrast, “anyone who has access to aircraft operators that are looking to monetize excess capacity, i.e., aircraft sitting idle, can contract with these operators at set rates, and then come up with a clever name and a fancy brochure, and sell themselves as a “program.” If there’s a service issue, you don’t want to be in the position of having the program and the operator telling you to look to the other.
Bottom line? Butler acknowledges that there are reputable block charter jet card programs and that, in general, block charter offerings tend to be less expensive than fractional jet card programs. However, he cautions against being so blinded by the discounted price that you forget to do the proper due diligence. “[T]his isn’t like a flash sale on Groupon.” You’re putting your life and the lives of your family members in the hands of an operator, its aircraft and pilots. As always, the two most important rules are: “Safety First” and “Buyer Beware.”
Click here to for the complete article: “Why You Need to Look Beyond Price When Buying a Private Jet Card”