JetSuite Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100 (c/n 50000140) N584JS rests on the Atlantic Aviation ramp on April 2, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
In the past, private flying has typically been associated with heads of state or corporations (or private billionaires). But JetSuite, a relatively new kid on the personal jet block, has been revolutionizing the industry with a much cheaper, more flexible plan.
The private jet charter company has essentially designed a no-frills flying model for jaunts between airports throughout the US, Mexico and Canada. Its average trip typically costs around $3,500 an hour, which comes in at half the usual charter rate of $7,000 an hour. And JetSuite is the only charter service that offers guaranteed online pricing, claims.CEO Alex Wilcox.
How do they do it?
The Cost Structure
For starters, its fleet consists of four-seater Embraer Phenom 100s, and six-to-seven seater Cessna Citation CJ3s, which are smaller than the typical private jet so they’re more affordable. And standardizing the fleet (with just the two models) translates to streamlined maintenance and piloting, not to mention drastically improved fuel efficiency (just 90 gallons of gas per hour versus over 230 on some other private jets).
The private flying industry traditionally charges for everything by the hour, but you never know what you’re really up for until you land, which can easily result in costly surprises (if the flight runs overtime, for instance). JetSuite promises that you know what you’re going to pay, “down to the penny,” before you fly. A guaranteed cost is provided upfront via its instant online quote tool. You are never billed beyond the planned time, even if a flight exceeds it, according to the website.
Unlike many of its private flying counterparts, JetSuite does not require a payment plan, membership commitment or ownership fees: Clients can purchase one flight at a time. There’s also no major capital investment, decline in aircraft residual value nor the flight expiration dates that are typically associated with fractional ownership, leasing and block-cards arrangements.
The company does provide membership plans – levels range from $50,000 to $400,000 – that buy a pre-blocked number of flying hours, determined by the type of plane selected. Not surprisingly, membership has its privileges: lower flight-time rates.
For those seeking even better deals, JetSuite offers last minute one-way trips, punningly called SuiteDeals, from as little as $536 and going up to $1,499. That’s for the entire plane, so you can potentially fill it up with your colleagues (or partners in crime), which often works out as cheaper than a commercial flight. The only catch: SuiteDeal flights are posted online at around 4 p.m. the day before they take off, so spontaneity really is the name of the game. You can, however, set up email or text alerts for whenever a new deal from your chosen departure airport appears on the site.
The Bottom Line
Flying in a personal plane will never be a bargain-basement affair, but JetSuite’s charter model and sweet last-minute deals edge the experience more into the mainstream, allowing more people to join the private jet set – at least once.
(Julia Ingall - Investopedia)