Private jets are popular, and the broader travel industry has noticed. Luxury hotels, resorts and even destinations are rushing to promote private aviation partnerships. The idea, in part, is that they are offering a one-stop option. Book your luxury suite, and our private aviation partner can handle those private flights.
What’s being ignored is that private aviation isn’t just about pictures of club seats and what type of catering you want. It’s a significant purchase, not studying the details can be costly, and the best option for you may not always be apparent.
As more hotels, resorts and destinations partner with private jet companies, remember to look into … [+]
While these partnerships give writers a hook to write something and can be a good thing because they put great travel options top-of-mind, let’s examine what you should be on the lookout for before you buy.
It’s your money. Please spend it if you want! There is an ongoing flow of $100,000 and $500,000 dream trips, including your hotel, some extras, and private flights to and from. Some I have reviewed left me scratching my head trying to figure out what, if any, value I would get by booking the package.
In other words, a quick look at how much the accommodations and flights would cost if bought separately didn’t add up. I also found few of the “unique” or “curated” experiences bundled into the price wouldn’t be available if you just booked them separately. Worst of all, by buying the package, you commit yourself to a private aviation choice that might not be best for your needs.
Partnering with private jet operators and charter brokers has plenty of upside for hotels, resorts and destinations. It gives them marketing access to providers’ customers and prospects, who are high net worth consumers with money to spend on luxury travel. Promotions give their properties valuable media exposure to those affluent consumers. That’s all well and good.
However, resorts and hotels then promote these providers back to their customers and prospects, who, like many folks, are looking into private aviation for the first-time. New private travel buyers assume that it must be a good fit because a resort is promoting a specific private jet company. The answer is, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.
Just like any important purchase, reach out to a couple of other private jet brokers or operators with your travel details and at least get some competitive quotes. One-off charters are priced based on market conditions at the time you are calling. Just in the U.S., there are over 2,000 charter operators and even more brokers. You may find a better solution or not.
Most resort managers are not regular consumers or buyers of private aviation. In other words, they know about as much about it as you do, maybe less. Before booking with partners, the biggest thing you need to consider is whether or not you expect to make more private flights in the next year.
While one-off charters often make sense, if you are going to fly at least 10 hours in the next six or 12 months, a membership or jet card might make more sense.
Why jet cards? For example, deicing on large-cabin private jets can reach up to $10,000. If you charter, it’s an additional expense you will be billed for. When you sign charter contracts, you typically agree to pay for any post-flight charges, which can include WiFi, catering, and yes, deicing.
I’ve spoken to folks who didn’t read the fine print and were surprised or upset when they looked at their credit card statements. On the other hand, some jet cards and memberships include deicing, WiFi and catering in their price.
Keep in mind that between charter options and jet card programs, there is often a big difference in cancelation policy, something that’s important in a COVID-19 world. When you buy a jet card, you know what the terms when you buy. With on-demand charter, it will vary flight to flight based on the operator.
Perhaps the resort has relaxed its cancelation policy, but if those terms don’t match the terms of the private jet partner, it won’t help you much. One-off private jet charters, in some cases, can’t be canceled. While some jet card programs allow you to cancel or change with as little as 10 hours’ notice, with most on-demand charter, you would lose your money.
Also, what happens if the operator cancels, particularly on short notice? Perhaps the pilot gets sick or there is a mechanical that morning. While most jet cards offer service recovery getting you a replacement aircraft at their expense, you go to a re-quote with typical charters. What’s a re-quote? That’s when you or your provider scramble to call providers trying to find the replacement aircraft.
Such last-minute requests can often double your price, and if you want to go now, you have to pony up. If you can wait a few days, prices probably go back down – and one would hope the partner hotel doesn’t charge you for those first two nights you lost. When I’ve asked these questions after receiving partnership press releases from various resorts, my sense is that type of detail isn’t being taken into consideration.
While these partnerships have a lot of public relations value, you are combining two expensive and very different purchases. Just like a good travel advisor knows which suites have unobstructed ocean views and the ones that get noise from the night club, buying your private jet flight and the vacation part of your vacation are two different tasks, even if you are doing them in conjunction with each other. Make sure you research your options so you can figure out what’s best for you.
I’m Editor-in-Chief of DG Amazing Experiences, a weekly e-newsletter for private jet owners and Private Jet Card Comparisons, a buyer’s guide comparing over 250 jet card programs from major players like Flexjet, Jet Linx, NetJets, Sentient Jet, Wheels Up, VistaJet, and XO to newcomers like FlyExclusive and boutique brokers. You’ll also find performance profiles of popular private jets, from turboprops King Air 350, Pilatus PC-12 and HondaJet to the Phenom 300, Challenger 300 and 350, Gulfstream G450, G550, G650, G700, Bombardier’s popular Global Express family, the iconic Learjet and S-76 helicopter used by both Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump. There’s a free guide explaining various options and even a guide for first-timers and specifically what you need to know before chartering. And before you fly, find out what’s an FBO. You’ll also find a Deal Book, cataloging M&A activity and launches by key players. I’ve spent my working career in travel and luxury media, for 14 years at Travel Agent magazine, where I began as a reporter, then covered the airline industry as Aviation Editor and ended up rising to Group Publisher. In 2000 I started Elite Traveler, a consumer lifestyle magazine distributed globally aboard private jets, where I was President and Editor-in-Chief until 2014. In 2007, I co-authored of “The Sky’s the Limit: Marketing to the New Jet Set.” In 2014 I wrote “23 Ways to Create More Sales Opportunities 25 Minutes,” and in 2016 I co-authored “Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich.” Verb named me as one of the Top 25 Digital Luxury Experts to follow. For more private aviation and news on jet cards, private aviation memberships, and fractional ownership, visit Private Jet Card Comparisons’ news updates.