The New Breed of Jet Cards

 - September 14, 2006, 11:32 AM

Last month, Flight Options and Flexjet began offering tiered-pricing jet cards
that provide steep discounts for not flying during peak periods. But that is where
the similarities end.

Flight Options’ JetPass Ultimate Travel provides buyers with access to light, midsize and large-cabin aircraft with a deposit of $100,000 ($35,000 for current Flight Options shareowners). There are no travel blackout dates associated with the jet card, but the pricing plan encourages customers to book flights during non-peak times. Non-peak is defined as Monday at 1:01 p.m. to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m., Friday from 12:01 a.m. to 1 p.m. and all day Saturday.

Light jet, roundtrip hourly rates range from $3,300 (Saturday non-peak) to $5,000 (peak travel and/or high demand days); for a midsize jet, the range is $5,275 to $7,300; and for a large-cabin jet, $7,375 to $10,200. One-way trips are slightly higher. All rates include fuel surcharges, though federal excise taxes are extra.

Flexjet’s new Flexjet 25 Card comes in three levels–275-, 325- or 355-day card– with each level based on a preset number of days per year on which the card owner can fly. According to Flexjet, the card is available in increments of 25, 30 or 35 hours per year in the Learjet 45 or 60 or Challenger 604.

Like Flexjet’s fractional program, the Flexjet 25 jet card comes with an aircraft guarantee, meaning customers will never fly more than 5 percent of the card owner’s flight entitlement on non-Flexjet 25 program aircraft. The Flexjet 25 jet card also allows customers to have access to the secondary service area (all of the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) without having to pay positioning fees.

Additionally, card owners can fly on a larger or smaller aircraft than the one they purchased on an as-available basis. The jet-card program Flexjet offers also allows owners to roll over unused funds to purchase a Flexjet fractional share within their 12-month contract.

Standard callout time for Flexjet 25 is 24 hours for the primary service area, 48 hours for the secondary service area and 120 hours for travel on days outside the contract agreement (hourly surcharge applies).

A 25-hour card in the Learjet 45 is $134,900 for the 275-day plan, $145,000 for 325 days and $155,000 for 355 days. The equivalent Learjet 60 cards are $149,900, $157,500 and $167,500; for the Challenger 604, it’s $219,000, $235,000 and $255,000, respectively.