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You may have heard of the federal excise tax, but did you know that it affects air charter travel, too? While the rate changes from time to time, the current tax rate is 7.5 percent. The federal excise tax is the way the United States pays for all the government services that aviation users take advantage of, including air traffic control, weather services and the use of federal airports. Some air charters services included this tax in their hourly or flight rate, while others don't. Given the cost of the flight, this tax can add a fair amount to the total. If there is any question on whether this tax is included, make sure to ask.
Most air charter flight services on the Internet have instant quotes. This service gives the traveler instant information on what is available for hire, what a charter would cost per flight hour and aircraft and schedule availability. With a membership to their service, travelers get more detailed flight planning. One charter service has found a way to go one step further by giving you more than one price for any flight. They will show you which air charter is offering the best price per flight hour by name. In a list, you can see where the best deals are and make your own choice. They don't make a commission so they have the freedom to show you all the information they have. Remember these companies are not air charters themselves, but give access to air charter deals for a price, which saves you the headache and legwork of doing the research.
There are many "free" programs that benefit the client, like "no membership fees to join" or "no maintainance fees" and "no aircraft acquisition fee," which in most cases, is tied to the administrative costs of doing the paperwork involved in air chartering. Other benefits include no monthly aircraft management fees and no long-term contract commitments. In addition, most air charters offer different levels of this free membership. The Gold or Silver level have particular privileges and deposit costs. Know that some memberships are better than others. You may think you have just joined an exclusive club, only to find out it really didn't save you any time or money. Asking questions before you join anything is always advised and don't stop until you understand the programs offered. Be sure to ask about membership cancellation policies and what costs may be attached if you withdraw.
Whether you are a frequent international flier or only a rare traveler outside the U.S., most aircraft jet charter memberships welcome your trips beyond domestic borders. The only noteworthy differences that might apply involve the aircraft you choose and/or the notice that may be required.
For example, if your normal business air charter travel involves shorter trips, you might often use turbo-prop or light jet aircraft. Depending on your destination, traveling party, and sleep necessities, you might need a medium or heavy jet for this normally longer trip. You might want a sleep stateroom, larger cabin, just more stretch out room, or maximum air speed to reach your international destination. Your aircraft jet charter membership should give you the opportunity to secure the perfect aircraft at regular jet charter rates.
You may be asked to give somewhat longer notice to jet charter companies when you're going to fly internationally. Instead of a typical advance notice of eight to twelve hours, you may want to provide around 72 hours' notice for a trip outside the U.S. However, this is just a rule of thumb suggestion, so check with your air charter firm to learn about their specific notification requirements for air travel beyond U.S. borders.
Your jet charter membership will, however, provide you the most luxurious, comfortable international travel you've ever experienced. Your jet charter membership is another gift that keeps on giving – even internationally.
The ever-increasing popularity of charter jet memberships have given birth to many new programs further enlarging your menu of options. Many newer aircraft jet charter member choices include standard catering, aircraft positioning, and other amenities (audio/visual, sky telephone, etc.) The list of membership levels seems to be ever expanding and improving.
Charter jet prices may include only flight hours and crews, or your membership may offer additional benefits, like catering, aircraft positioning, etc. to further simplify and enhance your private flight trips. The best jet charter companies are dedicated to giving their clients and members the best that business air charter travel can offer.
Many jet charter companies offer a variety of levels of membership. You, not they, decide what type and level of services you want. Even if you absolutely must have gourmet catering on your private flights, just ask and you should receive. You can compare jet charter rates and membership services offering the amenities you desire using the Internet and often find testimonials from satisfied users, too. Then you can choose the best membership program for you.
Even if you typically charter a jet, you'll have occasions when you might need a different type of aircraft. You might need to get across a heavily trafficked large city, be at the other end of your state for a critical business meeting, or just need to get away for a long weekend a few hundred miles away. Most jet charter companies allow business air charter membership and guaranteed hours to include helicopter, prop, and turbo-prop aircraft access.
This graphically displays one of the major advantages of aircraft jet charter membership programs versus the also popular fractional jet ownership options. Instead of being “married” to one aircraft, you have a full menu of airplanes from which to choose. In addition to wonderful amenities, charter jet membership gives you total flexibility to fly how you'd like, where you'd like, and when you'd like. Obviously, using commercial air travel poses a serious challenge to this convenience.
Many people, particularly those new to private travel, are initially concerned with the amount of notice required by jet charter companies. Typically, around eight to twelve hours' notice is required, or at least preferred. However, when you charter a jet, required notification varies, depending on your preferred charter firm and membership conditions.
Jet charter companies understand that business air charter requirements can sometimes change or arise on short notice. For example, a critical business meeting must be rescheduled for 24 hours earlier than expected. You are at your office in Boston and need to be in Chicago. You need to go wheels up in less than five hours. Just call your air charter firm and tell them your problem. Most often, you'll find that the aircraft you want will be ready for takeoff when you need it.
For your maximum enjoyment and convenience, the standard eight to twelve hour notice – or more if possible – gives you the time to prepare and your air charter firm to make all your arrangements for a wonderful trip. Yet, should emergencies arise, don't hesitate to use your membership to its fullest. You'll find that your aircraft jet charter firm will do all in its power to have an airplane ready for you in the time frame allowed.
As the popularity of charter jet memberships grows, jet charter companies seem to offer more and better benefits. One option that some memberships offer is the ability to allow others to use some of your guaranteed flight hours (at standard jet charter rates) included in your membership. You may even have the option of adding one or more additional users to your account, should you so desire.
More and more aircraft jet charter companies are offering and/or expanding their membership options to give clients more choices of service. As commercial airports become more and more crowded, air traffic congestion grows (leading to regular departure and landing delays), and ticket prices increase, aircraft jet charter usage becomes ever more popular. Veteran business air charter travelers have always loved the luxury, convenience, and privacy of charter flight; they now find that even the traditional cost differential, compared to commercial travel, is now disappearing.
If you're unsure if your membership includes the ability to allow others to use some of your bulk flight hours, just pick up the phone and ask your aircraft jet charter firm if this is an option. As veteran private fliers are aware, the best jet charter companies are committed to making their clients' travel experiences luxurious, comfortable, and personal.
There are a number of components involved in determining flight hour rates when you charter a jet through your membership program. First, you will typically receive a menu of choices of charter jet membership levels. This is a wonderful benefit offered by jet charter companies, so you can choose the membership plan that works best for you, not some third party. The jet charter rates normally reflect the level of service you select.
For example, you might simply want your membership to encompass flight hours, without specified in-flight services. Conversely, if you decide you would prefer to “package” other services (catering, ground transportation, audio/visual, etc.) with your membership, you may have a variety of options. The top jet charter companies give you the ability to design your membership level to fit your travel lifestyle.
Your jet charter rates are similar to standard aircraft jet charter pricing, but often include extra features that reflect the fact that you're a member of a highly professional organization. You may be offered standard catering services, no aircraft positioning fees, ability to upgrade to different aircraft, option to add one or more users to your account, guaranteed charter jet prices, or other amenities as part of your jet charter membership. You often enjoy a mix of extra benefits at standard jet charter rates by choosing a membership.
While it seems that everything from country club memberships to cell phone agreements involve longer term contracts, you will be pleased to learn that most aircraft jet charter memberships have no contractual obligations. The goal of the top jet charter companies is to enhance your travel experiences, not to complicate them.
By using charter jet memberships, with some wonderful benefits and without any required long-term contract, members have total flexibility when they charter a jet on a regular basis. Busy executives, entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, etc. have tight schedules that are often changed or modified. Flexibility is an amenity that is not only desired, but also often necessary.
Without the potential restrictions that are sometimes included in contractual agreements, you can enjoy excellent charter jet prices, a wide selection of business air charter aircraft, and extra amenities (catering, audio/visual, and other in-flight services) with a jet membership. By purchasing the flight hours you want and having a membership, you'll have the aircraft jet charter you want ready and waiting for you and your traveling party when and where you want it.
Many people often assume that while there are obviously many benefits with having an aircraft jet charter membership, it must be costly. You'll be thrilled to learn that not only is air charter membership not expensive, it is often FREE. Personal and business air charter memberships are offered as an amenity and benefit of your loyalty to those jet charter companies that are dedicated to providing you with the safest, most enjoyable flying experiences.
Typically, the only financial requirement is to decide on the level of your expected usage of aircraft jet charter services. You will normally select your projected annual flight schedule, 25, 50, 100 hours, etc., and purchase “bulk hours” in advance. In addition to normally receiving fixed charter jet prices, you will enjoy wonderful budget management and cost control benefits.
With no contractual issues, pressure to use your projected flight hours in a short period of time, or membership fees, you can enjoy the financial savings, convenience, and luxury of air charter travel. You receive most of the benefits of owning an aircraft without the accompanying major financial investment.
A private aircraft charter company is an important resource when you are in the market to either buy or charter a private plane. With their entire focus on private aircraft, a private jet charter company has the expertise you need to help you make the optimal private aircraft choice. They can educate you on the benefits and advantages of each type of plane available such as turbo props, helicopters, light jets, medium jets, super medium jets, heavy jets and jumbo jets.
A private jet charter company can arrange for whatever type of trip you want to take, be it business, luxury or a combination of both using the best aircraft at the lowest possible costs. They can provide you the optimal airplane for each and every trip, one trip in a light jet for you family vacation, next a jumbo to take your entire board of directors to the annual meeting. Add-ons such as car service, catering or entertainment onboard are also in their area of specialties. They can arrange for one-way or roundtrip flights at any airport anywhere in the world. The benefits of private jets are many, including eliminating the traditional annoyances at airports, lines at the ticket counter, security checks and the gate when you fly private from 10 times as many airports as commercial. You have control of the departure time, the airports you leave and arrive at and who you fly with. Your privacy and security is always a top priority for you and so it is for your charter company.
Charter services offer a vast range of aircraft including heavy jets for international travel and smaller turbo-prop planes for short trips. For many business and luxury travelers, fractional ownership isn't a worthwhile investment when compared to a jet charter membership. When comparing charter services to fractional ownership programs, carefully investigate the required investment for fractional ownership and compare it to the minimum investment for a skycard program. A basic skycard memberships requires a mere $50,000. On the other hand, one fractional ownership company offers a "perk" of being able to fly in 14 other jets in addition to the small-cabin Hawker jet you become a fractional owner of an approximate $400,000 investment. Jet charter services stand out in sharp contrast while offering access to as many as four thousand aircraft available all over the globe without a major upfront investment. The differences speak for themselves.
A charter jet membership can mean many things, but for preferential charter services, it usually includes a "SkyCard" type program allowing members to choose a level of financial commitment to attain a set of extra services. The more substantial your investment, the more services become available to you. What does this sort of tier charter jet membership offer the customer? A chance to start small and grow the service levels as your needs grow. At first, you may only need a basic charter jet membership; as your needs grow and you increase your investment in order to gain access to more services, plus gaining free upgrades and free flight crews.
With higher security and longer lines at airports, the attraction of charter services is even greater than ever before. Even without the great membership benefits offered, the airline industry themselves are providing incentive to fly a charter jet to your next destination. U.S. carriers flew 642 million passengers last year while reporting more flight delays, mishandled baggage and consumer complaints than the previous year. The Transportation Department's Annual Air Travel Consumer Report showed that 19 commercial airlines boarded 642 million people in 2005, which is 23 million more than the previous year. The agency received 8,735 complaints about airline service, up 17.2 percent from 2004. Complaints ranged from flight cancellations or delays, incomplete or incorrect information about fares, discrimination and customer service and lost or mishandled bags. The airlines recorded an on-time arrival rate of 77 percent in 2005, down from 78 percent. Most flight delays were caused by weather. Instead of getting better, things are getting worse. This only adds up to one thing, a terrible travel experience by the consumer. It makes you ask why anyone would want to fly standard commercial?
In addition to luring new air charter clients with great benefits, some companies are offering a rewards program with cash back. For instance, a Silver membership at $150,000 will get you $500 cash back. With the Gold membership level you can receive up to $2,000 back for spending $300,000. There are even larger air charter services offering rewards through major credit cards. Every time you use your credit card, you earn rewards toward flying. This has been a regular standard for the major airlines, but it's something new to air charter companies. Others have extended their rewards programs to many different categories such as flight time rewards, on-board rewards -- which are discounts on catering or phones or flight attendants -- and rewards for dining, retail shops and hotels.
Additional membership benefits available through private jet charter companies keep expanding. With a variety of companies competing for your air charter dollar, the competition to offer greater deals is fierce. Most companies offer a benefit card of some kind. One particular company offers an unlimited number of jet charter hours, simultaneous charter flight arrangements, 24-hour personalized jet service and simplified payment transactions. As another attracting point, companies are promoting their partnership with Wyvern, a safety auditing, consulting and information service to reassure their commitment to safety.
As with many other types of club memberships, air charters avail certain privileges to their members that otherwise they couldn't have access to. There are different fees for different levels of membership among the different charter companies, which means a certain preset amount of monies are deposited into an escrow account in the client's name. As trips and amenities are used, the account is drawn on to pay for them and memberships provide privileges like choice of aircraft and other services. Additionally, memberships would be a logical choice for frequent charter flyers.
Charter jet membership programs offer flexibility and don't tie you to a single aircraft, which for flyers needing different flight plans is the most valuable feature. As personal or business needs change, so will your aircraft preferences. When comparing charter jet membership programs, it is beneficial to avoid companies that charge annual membership fees for the service. You should pay for the services you wish to use without paying extra for the "privilege" of using a particular company. The preferred charter services offer membership programs without any kind of annual fee.
Charter jet pricing varies from company to company, but one thing they all have in common is what they are not: costs resulting from fractional ownership in a particular aircraft or a group of planes between you and other owners. Jet charter companies make available thousands of planes for your use, rather than a particular aircraft or two. The concept that sets the entire charter jet industry apart from ownership of any kind is that luxury jets, executive charters, and other types of services should all be available at any time you need them, and at any level of service. Some fractional ownership programs obligate customers for substantial investments over time for as little as 50 hours of flight time per year on a single plane with only a small handful of other aircraft options and no dependable upgrade options.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|