Jet Cards Are Going Out of Stock! Now What?
Author: Outlier Jets Team
The demand for private aviation has skyrocketed in recent months. While initially very exciting, this rapid increase has actually created problems for the industry as it struggles to accommodate so many new passengers. Now, as several major providers have decided to suspend jet card sales, many are left wondering about the future of accessible private air travel.
What lies ahead for jet card programs? How are current and prospective members coping with this situation? To answer these questions, it is better to first understand how the increase in popularity of jet cards during the pandemic created a major strain on the system and how the industry is responding.
Are You Too Late for The Jet Card Party?
The pandemic generated the highest online traffic ever in history. While people sat at home during lock down, ordering things online and day-dreaming of traveling again, interest in private aviation spiked. Safer flying conditions and more affordable options introduced private air travel to an entire new class of passengers.
As interest in private jets continued to grow, jet card programs exploded with sales. Cardholders were granted access to different types of aircraft at fixed hourly rates. Passengers could land at private airports, allowing them to reach more destinations than possible with any commercial airline. Jet cardholders could also travel on very short notice, often with the option to book a flight as little as 24 hours in advance.
Jet cards had a special appeal to many frequent flyers. The problem with demand increasing so quickly was capacity, or a lack thereof. Because programs were designed to be flexible in different contexts, providers needed to slow down sales to be able to deliver the services they promised.
The situation is exemplified well through this anecdote in a recent Forbes article:
“In announcing a pause in taking new customers, all the [jet card] providers cited their desires to first care for existing customers.
Customers who buy jet cards, typically prepaying $50,000 to $500,000, generally have flights in mind they want to take when they wire the money, say executives.
While existing members settle into their individual travel patterns, an influx of new customers leading into the busy holiday travel season is spooking executives who contractually must fulfill those flights.”
The holidays are peak travel season and will add extra pressure to a system already handling a historic demand for flights. Jet card terms and conditions are being changed daily. Despite fixed rates and legal contracts providers can no longer ensure with 100% certainty that all client expectations will be fulfilled. It is a tough time for passengers and providers alike, but with mutual understanding and trust, this situation does not need to be the end of Jet card programs.
Good news: There is Still Time / Bad news: It Won’t Be As Easy
Signing up for a jet card with two easy clicks is no longer an option. However, there is still a chance to find the perfect jet card if you have patience. Many jet cards still exist, but there is much stronger segmentation, with distinct and specific requirements for each program
Forbes also predicts:
“There will be fewer one-size-fits-all programs. You’ll need to spend a bit more time paying attention to the details before you wire your funds.”
It is very beneficial to pay special attention here to some insightful notes from the annual NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) convention in Las Vegas. This advice comes from interviews with key players in the aviation industry like operators, brokers, CEOs, and salespeople. Highlights include:
- Many jet cards will soon have longer call-outs, higher hourly rates, more peak days, and higher peak surcharges. Blackouts will become standard.
- With a limited supply of jets for charter for the foreseeable future, programs will cap memberships at a level they know they can serve. This is a new issue many are dealing with for the first time, because until now, there was always a charter jet to be found.
- Some jet cards may try to limit demand by setting higher entry levels, with minimums as high as $500,000.
- Travelers will be incentivized to be flexible in moving departure times (at times by even a day or two) and booking flights a few weeks in advance. This can relieve pressure on the system and decrease delays.
- There will be certain card programs that still offer 10-hour callouts, but they will be priced accordingly. These programs will likely be branded as corporate travel solutions with rates starting at $6,750 per hour and 90-and-120-minute minimums.
- Each time a traveler renews a jet card during these dynamic times, they may have to agree to new requirements, terms, and conditions – or take their business elsewhere.
New Types of Partnerships for the Future
As companies suspend jet card sales for the time being, it does not indicate the end, but rather the beginning of a new era of jet card programs. Jet card providers are using their creativity to find unique solutions to handle the current situation as we speak. One of the emerging solutions is a shift towards more personalized relationships with clients. This is great news for passengers because it will result in a variety of new options. One-size-fits-all programs will become obsolete and custom-made jet cards will become the standard.
Private flyers who want to maximize their jet card benefits have to do a bit more research these days. While navigating this process, communication is key. By taking a more human approach towards your jet card purchase, you can get the information you need to select the right jet card for you. The reputation of jet cards may have been shaken during the initial rise in demand, but as providers create new partnerships and build a different type of relationship with customers, the prestige of jet cars will rise once again. Providers must learn to listen to their clients more carefully and think of each future jet card holder as an individual person rather than “just another customer”.