The Big Tradeoff: Broker Jet Card vs. Owner/Operator Jet Card

Like most every other consumer good to hit the market, the quest for the “perfect” product is always…
Broker Jet Card vs. Owner/Operator Jet Card

Like most every other consumer good to hit the market, the quest for the “perfect” product is always present and jet cards are no different. Brokered jet cards, offered through providers like Magellan Jets and Sentient Jet, are supplied by a plethora of Operators in order to fulfill their flying requirements. While some of the programs offer some form of aircraft specificity, the model is mostly predicated on “category-specific,” meaning that the end-user seldom has any control on what aircraft is sent their way. Of course, if you are just two people on a short same-day roundtrip business flight, then any jet might work. But if it is you and a group of friends, all with golf clubs and bags because you FINALLY got that invite to play Augusta, well you may be disappointed if the broker sends you a plane that doesn’t fit those clubs. And if you wanted that broker to guarantee an airplane that holds it all? Well, you can throw your contractual pricing out the window and be subject to “spot quoting,” “hard quoting,” or just traditional charter to set your price. Carrying skis? Good luck.

The upside to the brokered jet cards really only comes in price, and even that may not be entirely true. The cost of the card program on the surface is less expensive, but that price advantage may be quickly eroded once you have to ship clubs, ship luggage, and take on a fuel stop. The elements of Operational Control, for example, the ability for the jet card provider to dictate how the airplane is flown or operated, is something that legally a brokered jet card cannot do. If you have a brokered program guaranteeing you nonstop on a route, or telling you “they will make the pilots do……,” then run and never look back.

Conversely, you have the Owned/Operated programs like Flexjet, Netjets, Nicholas Air, XOJet, and Airshare who offer a jet card that comes with the security of knowing what aircraft you will be on, that it will be flown on an aircraft owned by the brand, and comes with all of the important characteristics of Operational Control. In the environment we are in, complete with virus protection and the like, the consumer demands the cleanest of cabins and safety protocols being adhered to. These operators are able to personally tend to those details and assure the customer of that, whereas the broker card simply cannot. Yes, the Owned/Operated cards come at a premium pricewise, but the benefits outweigh that cost. Knowing your family is getting onboard a safe and comfortable airplane, knowing that the airplane will accommodate the mission, and heck, even just what TYPE of aircraft to expect when you book a trip are important assurances in today’s private flying world.

This has become another version of the old Ford vs. Chevy argument where each side is going to swear by their option, but in aviation, it is not that cut and dry. As we have seen with the industry shakeup in the past 6 months, the consumer needs to ask the hard questions of their provider, but also of themselves.

  • Is price my number one factor?
  • Do I want the consistency of aircraft type? Or do I not care what gets sent to me tomorrow morning?
  • Do I only want to work with companies financially secure enough to own their fleet?
  • Am I okay with fuel stops?

Ultimately, it is consumer preference, but sales teams in the jet industry are not designed to tell you their dark secrets. For brokered programs, that means glossing over key points about where the aircraft come from, how often they are vetted, or who is even flying them. For Owned/Operated programs, it means they simply need to explain the value created by the increased pricing model.

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