How to hire a private jet and the best jet card programs

Hiring a private jet is a dream come true for many of us. Many companies and airports offer this service to wealthy clientele at rates per hour. Costs per hour can vary depending of type of aircraft such as light jet, which will be cheaper than a heavy jet (see example cost table below). Basic costs per hour sometimes do not include possible fuel surcharges, overnight fees, airport fees and taxes. You can also hire jets that are doing an empty leg back to their city at massively reduced prices, sometimes up to 75% off. But you have no pick of the city you fly to and have to keep an eye out for a plane that is going from the city you are in to the city you want to go.
Very Light Jet Phenom 100, Citation Mustang, Eclipse 500 $1,750 – $2,100
Light Jet Citation Ultra, Hawker 400XP, Learjet 31A $2,250 – $2,600
Midsize Jet Hawker 800XP, Learjet 60, Citation XLS/Excel $3,150 – $3,800
Super Midsize Jet Gulfstream 200, Falcon 50, Falcon 2000, Citation X $4,350 – $4,800
Large Cabin Jet I Challenger 601/604, Gulfstream III, Embraer Legacy $4,750 – $5,200
Large Cabin Jet II Gulfstream IV/450, Gulfstream V/550, Global Express $5,600 – $8,600
Executive Turboprop King Air 200, King Air 90, Pilatus PC-12 $1,500 – $1,850
* Basic cost per hour.
Basic costs per hour do not include possible fuel surcharges, overnight fees, airport fees, taxes 7.5%.

So hiring a private jet can be expensive. There is now a JetCard program offered by many well known companies specialising in private jets. These jet card programs are like buying a block of time on an aircraft. This is a fixed price per hour that won’t change during the use of those hours. These fixed in hourly rates last for a year or two depending on amount of hours you buy.

There are two broad structures for jet cards:

  1. Plane specific – where you prepay for a set number of hours on a specific aircraft type. These are typically 25 hour cards that go up to 50 hours. Any more than this then fractional ownership is best.
  2. Debit card – where you deposit an initial sum, often starting at $100,000, and then the operator draws from this sum as you use different aircraft at fixed hourly rates. The initial deposit could be lower or could be higher.
Jet card pricing varies for different sized aircraft. For Light Jets a typical 25 hour jet card costs in the range of $120,000 to $150,00 range. On Mid sized Jets for a 25 hour jet card cost between $180,000 – $200,000. And on Heavy Jets its upwards of $350,000 for a 25 hour jet card.
Compare Light Jet Cards NetJets Flight Options Private Jet Services
Aircraft Citation Encore Nextant 400 XT Light Priority
Hours 25 25 25
Response Time (hrs) 10 10 10
Quoted Price $149,900 $132,500 $119,825
Fuel Fees Inc. Add Inc.
Fuel Surcharge Add Add Inc.
FET Add Add Inc.
Catering Add Premium Inc. Inc.
Peak Surcharge Inc. Inc. 5%
Term 18 Months No Expire No Expire


Jet card prices can vary with some companies quoting an all-inclusive price and guarantee it for say 12 months. Others quote a base price and then add on items such as fuel and FET. Fuel surcharges can add up to quite a bit and can come as a nasty shock if you’re not expecting them.

The idea of fuel surcharges is to cover the variable cost of fuel. A basic fuel fee, such as $1.60 per gallon, is built into the basic cost of the jet card and then the fuel surcharge is the amount that the actual fuel price exceeds this built in amount.

So if the card agreement covers fuel at $1.60 per gallon, and the actual price is $5.60 a gallon then you will pay the additional $4 ($5.6-$1.6) as a “fuel surcharge”.

The full amount you end up paying will depend on two other factors i) the aircraft, and more importantly its fuel consumption ii) how long you fly. So if the aircraft consumes say 165 gallons per hour and you fly for 2 hours then you will pay for 330 gallons. At $4 per gallon that comes to a fuel surcharge of $660 per hour or an additional $1,320 on that 2 hour flight.

Jet cards include the low capital outlay compared to full or fractional ownership. The ability to select from a variety of aircraft types, often specifying the actual aircraft model and upgrade or downgrade options are another plus point. With a fractional jet card you can be comfortable knowing you’ll be flying on the most up to date planes. The fractional fleets also offer consistent service and safety standards. You are usually not billed directly for deadhead, or unoccupied hours and there is a consistency of service

There is the relatively high cost per flight hour compared to other options. Card holders also tend to have longer call out periods than actual fractional owners. A fractional owner may be able to request a plane with 4-6 hours notice, but a card holder must generally give 10 or more hours notice. These cards represent a costly option and they are not recommended above the 50 hour barrier.

In Fractional ownership you own an interest in a specific serial-numbered aircraft from a fleet. A Share costs you a fraction of the price of owning a whole aircraft, provides you with greater flexibility than owning a single aircraft and you don’t have to worry about managing it. With as little as four to six hours’ notice, your jet will be ready and waiting. How it works similar to full aircraft ownership from a tax and legal standpoint, so purchasing a Share offers you all the financial benefits of a capital equipment acquisition.

Your costs are predictable and include the following: One-time acquisition fee – based upon share size and aircraft type. Monthly management fee – covers indirect operating costs such as pilot salaries, training, hangar use, liability insurance, and Owner Services support. Occupied hourly fee – covers direct operating costs such as maintenance, landing fees, and standard fuel. You are billed as you fly and only for occupied flight hours – wheels up to wheels down – plus six minutes of taxi time at the beginning and end of each flight. Other fees – include hourly fuel fee, fuel tax surcharge, Federal Excise Tax (if applicable),  international fees (as applicable) and ground transportation.

Flying private is about the privacy and saving time. You just drive up to your plane and take of in as little as 10 minutes. Normally with commercial you have to wait hours, go through security checks and wait to board a busy flight that sometimes may have some annoying people. It saves time and hassle, book 10 hours in advance, fly off and come back without the hassle.

[image from airpartner]

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