Are you trying to determine whether signing up for a private jet membership program makes sense based on your specific travel requirements? Find out whether private jet membership is a smart option by working with a private aviation consultant and asking yourself the following:
How many hours per year do I fly?
How frequently do my travel needs change?
Would a private jet enable me to access airports closer to my desired destinations?
How long are my trips, on average?
How many people do I typically travel with?
What is my budget?
Perform Initial Evaluation and Program Identification
With many options to consider when comparing membership and card programs, clients often turn to us for expert guidance when deciding which private aviation model best suits their need. In some cases, a private jet membership program will make the most sense, while in other cases a card program will be preferred. This is determined primarily by understanding each client’s objectives, flexibility and aircraft size requirements. The team at Essex assists clients in evaluating all the details of various aircraft options based on their specific needs and requirements. Essex also provides an operational and financial analysis to ensure that the most appropriate aircraft, program model and applications are considered.
Flight Membership Programs
Flight membership programs let clients fly as they please, offering flexibility and a fixed operating hourly cost. At the start of the contract, clients agree to a fixed cost per hour, which is then billed after each flight. Beyond actual travel costs, there is typically an initial fee along with annual membership fees. Operators of flight membership programs often utilize a fleet of their own aircraft, offering clients a higher level of consistency in terms of the aircraft types utilized and their general appearance.
There are two options when it comes to utilizing card programs: The first is to buy a dedicated number of hours on a specific aircraft type, typically from a charter operator that has a card program. This option enables travelers to upgrade or downgrade the type of aircraft they utilize, as desired, based on agreed interchanging rates.
The other card program option is a debit card. This option simply lets travelers deposit funds into an established travel account. Hourly rates are normally fixed and are based on aircraft size. When a card member travels, the total cost of the trip is calculated at the completion of the trip; that cost is then automatically deducted from their card program balance.
It is important to note that many card program operators also work as brokers and therefore work with several different operators. With card programs, travelers will usually be advised of the actual aircraft they will be utilizing a few days in advance of their planned travel.
Once a client decides on a membership or card model, Essex reviews the contract to ensure all details are fully understood, reasonable and in line with industry standards. For example, utilization limits should be reviewed, as well as the ability to terminate the contract and receive a full refund. The financial stability of the particular program is also important to consider before signing.
Private jet membership costs vary greatly depending on which membership company and program you choose. Companies typically structure membership costs based on a number of factors, including membership levels, travel benefits, the aircraft model or range of models, the number of hours purchased in advance and the client’s trip profile(s).
There are numerous companies that offer private jet memberships, each with a number of flight membership programs from which to choose. Some of the most popular companies include:
Jet Aviation Privileged Travel Card
Jet Aviation’s Privileged Travel Cardholders have their choice of an extensive array of business aircraft, ranging from small jets to global aircraft. As a prepaid program, members pay only for the aircraft size they require and are not subject to blackout details. Privileged Travel Cardholders also enjoy guaranteed aircraft availability, occupied hour pricing and a 40% rebate on qualified round trips. Jet Aviation does not require capital investment or multi-year contract, does not charge for aircraft positioning or empty leg fees within its primary service area and all flight-related fees are included in the cost of membership.
Jet Linx’s Jet Card program boasts three guarantees: guaranteed availability, guaranteed hourly rates and the highest standard of safety. Jet Card members can choose from all for categories of corporate jets and enjoy the additional benefits of a local private terminal at each of Jet Linx’s 19 locations, as well as access to the Elevated Lifestyle program, which provides exclusive offers through the company’s partner network. Jet Linx offers two Jet Card membership options — a Club Card and an Executive Card — for $12,500 and $17,500, respectively.
Wheels Up, which was founded as a membership-based pay-as-you-go charter program, offers three private jet membership program options: Connect Membership, Core Membership and Business Membership. Wheels Up members have their pick of over 90 aircraft and guaranteed access to the company’s entire fleet with as little as 24 hours’ notice, making last-minute travel simple. Initial membership fees range from $2,995–$29,500 and annual dues (starting in year two) range from $2,495–$14,500 depending on which membership option you choose.
On-demand private jet charter company XOJET offers a total of four flight membership programs — RISE, Select Access, Signature Access and Elite Access — with varying degrees of access, as well as a pay-as-you-go program. All membership options offer the ability to “create your own” on-demand shared shuttle flights or book seats on existing shuttle flights, as well as instant booking. Select Access, Signature Access and Elite Access members also enjoy no service fee on shared flights, global partner benefits and priority XO fleet access. Membership fees range from $595/yr. to $1,000/mo. depending on which membership option you choose.
If a private jet membership isn’t really your speed, there are a number of other private aviation service options from which to choose:
Private Jet Charter
For on-demand private aviation tailored to your busy schedule, look no further than private jet charter services. Whether you’re looking for a one-time charter or an ongoing contractual charter, the experts at Essex Aviation can help you identify a charter operator that best suits your needs.
Private Jet Lease
Enjoy all of the benefits of private jet ownership without the significant capital investment — leasing a private jet gives you the flexibility to travel wherever you want, whenever you want, all according to your own schedule.
Fractional Aircraft Ownership
Looking to invest in an aircraft of your own, but not quite ready to make the commitment that comes with acquisition? Fractional aircraft ownership enables you to purchase a share of a specific aircraft type with an annual amount of allotted flight hours.
Essex’s clients receive thorough consultative services that coordinates every aspect of utilizing a membership or card program:
Aircraft needs evaluation and model selection
Title, tax and legal consultation
Guidance of certain program stipulations
Program contract review and negotiations
Essex Aviation is not a brokerage firm and does not list aircraft for sale. We made this choice in order to avoid any conflicts of interest by representing both a buyer and seller. We accept no commissions, referral fees or any other forms of compensation from any third parties. At Essex, we work solely for our clients, offering unbiased and uncompromised advice.
Lee Rohde and Tom Mitchell have been working in the aviation business for a combined 70+ years. Passionate about aviation since they were in their teens, Lee and Tom provide a unique combination of experience and a wealth of unparalleled knowledge while advocating for their clients’ interests.
We are committed to protecting the privacy of our clients. Every agreement we enter into includes privacy and confidentiality clauses, which are strictly adhered to by every member of Essex Aviation.
Essex is a well-respected consumer advocate within the aviation industry, known for our character and honesty. It is our desire to form and maintain long-term relationships with our clients and remain accountable for the analysis and support of past and ongoing decisions.
“Essex Aviation facilitated an end-of-lease process for a large aircraft and assisted us with structuring a subsequent lease extension. The transactions had several challenging issues that required expert counseling and negotiation. The Essex team is friendly, prompt, easy to work with, and most importantly, simply the best at what they do. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
Joe Stone, CFO
Sartini Enterprises, Inc.
“Lee, Tom and the team at Essex have worked with us over the years on a variety of fixed wing, rotor and other special projects, performing to superior standards throughout. We initially went through an industry downselect to compete them against their peers and they surfaced as the best fit for us. We continue to be very happy with the relationship.”
Northeast Based Family Office
“Knowledgeable. Informed. Competent. Thorough. Practical. Candid. Professional. Responsive. Efficient.”
Tony R., CFO
Northeast Based Family Office
“Essex Aviation’s guidance and data analysis was crucial to our successful first CJ3 lease and later our CJ4 purchase. The expertise of Essex allowed us to understand more fully our flight metrics, history, costs and how to match our future aviation needs with available options in a way that would not have been possible on our own.”
Alexandra Glazier, President and CEO
New England Donor Services
“Lee and Tom are the dynamic duo you've been looking for. Their collective skills provide exacting coverage on every detail needed when considering an airplane purchase or refurbishment. I worked with them on a lengthy process, from identification of plane, purchase, full refurbishment, staff assignments thru delivery. I was never once disappointed. Perfect personalities for even the pickiest of clients!”
“We had a very positive experience with Essex. We found them to be competent, professional and objective. They dedicated a significant amount of time to providing an extremely insightful evaluation of our aircraft division. The report detailed strengths and weaknesses in our operation, together with constructive recommendations . They interacted very well with the staff and were able to elicit accurate and honest information.”
Northeast based Family Office
“Throughout my career as a family office executive, Essex Aviation has been my go to aviation expert. Lee and Tom have guided me through the most complex aircraft acquisition while being able to meet difficult client deadlines. The Essex team has provided key analysis ranging from the mundane, such as the interpretation of the placement of a placard on an aircraft to negotiations relating to an engine care program. Lee and Tom are key partners in all aspects of family office aviation matters.”
John Castrucci, Family Office Executive & Founder
Global Family Office Advisors
“I engaged Essex Aviation to prepare an analysis of large cabin aircraft that best met my needs. Their process was comprehensive and thorough. After an exhaustive search of available aircraft, they represented me on the acquisition, negotiation and importation of a long range aircraft and then oversaw a comprehensive customization of the entire plane. Throughout the process, Essex was a knowledgeable, trustworthy and detail oriented partner.”