A jet setter’s guide to private jet membership programs.


Jan 4, 2024

15 min read

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    In the not-so-distant past, flying private meant you either owned a jet or chartered a private flight. But today, jet setters have more ways to access the convenience and flexibility of flying privately, including private jet memberships.

    Private jet charter memberships come in all shapes and sizes but essentially operate around the concept of a deposit drawdown. For an initial investment, members get access to cheaper flights, a more extensive fleet, and exclusive benefits — all without buying an entire jet.

    But how do private jet memberships work? Below, we outline the basics, from costs to membership types to the fine print.

    What does private jet membership mean?

    A private jet membership offers its members the freedom of flying privately without the need to buy and manage a jet themselves.

    Entry into membership programs requires a deposit or pre-purchased flight hours. As you fly, the initial deposit or the hours are drawn down. In the simplest of terms, it works like the world’s most exclusive gift card.

    While the benefits vary from carrier to carrier, membership programs include preferred rates, increased fleet availability, shorter booking windows, and exclusive offers with program partners.

    Benefits of private jet memberships.

    Less administration

    Private jet ownership is the epitome of a VIP travel experience, yet it does come with a surprising amount of administration. Aircraft management companies can alleviate some of this burden, but the responsibilities associated with jet ownership can feel like taking on a brand-new business.

    On the other hand, private jet membership programs eliminate your responsibilities for staffing, scheduling, storing, and maintaining an aircraft. Flying private is as easy as booking a few days in advance. The rest is taken care of.

    Preferred rates

    If you break it down hourly, private jet membership costs make flying private much more attainable. With most programs, including Volato’s™ Insider Program, your deposit locks in a capped and preferred occupied hourly rate. Instead of paying according to the whims of the market, you’ll get member-only rates below those available to the general public.

    Greater fleet availability

    If you own a jet, it’s at your beck and call. But what happens if you are in New York and it’s sitting on the tarmac in Austin? You’ll have to schedule a costly repositioning flight or make alternative travel plans.

    But, with a private jet card membership, you’ll get access to an entire fleet. With Volato, that means access to our national fleet of HondaJets. No matter where you are, you’ll never be stuck without an aircraft again.

    Exclusive offers

    Many memberships also come packed with offers from premium brands and partners. Think of exclusive benefits covering the essentials of the jet set lifestyle: resorts, world-class vacation rentals, high-end luggage, entertainment, VIP concierge services, and more.

    A membership unlocks access to amenities and services unavailable to the public. When you thought flying private couldn’t get any better, exclusive partner benefits are the icing on the private jet cake.

    Types of private jet membership programs.

    Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear memberships structured under any number of formats. Memberships are classified as jet cards, ownership programs, charter memberships, and probably a few new ones that haven’t received much attention yet.

    Today, there are more than 50 different private aviation memberships, but the essence of each program remains the same. For the price of a deposit, these programs reduce the cost of flying private compared with chartering and significantly lower the upfront investment compared with full ownership.

    Still, there are subtleties between each model, defined below:

    Private jet memberships

    The tried and true model is the membership model. Entry requires a deposit, which is drawn down as you fly. Memberships lock in capped rates that are better than the going market rates, and they almost always come with added benefits, including advanced quoting, fleet access, and exclusive partner offers.

    Private jet card memberships

    Jet cards are often structured around an hourly format instead of a deposit. Cards are sold in predetermined blocks of flight hours, locked in at a preferred rate at the time of purchase. Hours are then drawn down as you fly.

    Some cards may offer preferred rates for flights that fall outside the program scope or discounts on other jets within the fleet. Many jet cards offered today come with blackout dates or other restrictions.

    Fractional ownership programs

    Technically, fractional ownership aligns more with jet ownership than a membership model, yet you’ll frequently see it grouped with traditional memberships. As a fractional owner, you buy into a fractional share of the aircraft, starting with shares as small as 1/16th.

    The program provider manages the logistics of aircraft ownership, but you’ll still receive many of the benefits associated with jet ownership, including tax benefits, revenue shares, and more. The cost of entry is higher, and there are ongoing monthly aircraft management fees to consider.

    How do private jet memberships work?

    With more people choosing to fly privately than ever, there are, naturally, more options than ever.

    Because we can’t speak to all the possible iterations of all the membership models here, we’ll stick with the one we know best: The Volato™ Insider Program.

    The basics:

    The Volato Insider Program is a deposit program with three tiers: Base, Plus, and Max. As a member, you’ll receive capped charter rates on our national feel of HondaJets when you fly on highly trafficked routes.

    Plus, you’ll enjoy discounts on daily flight deals and longer advanced quoting allowances — not to mention partner benefits from hotel brands, car rentals, and more.

    As a member, you’ll hear from us with a quote within 24 hours of your request, and the quote could be locked in for upwards of 42 days out, depending on your membership level. Plus, if your departure time is flexible, your membership has even greater perks.

    The investment:

    Under the Volato Insider program model, initial investment requirements are staggered into three tiers.

    Members receive increasingly lower capped rates, better daily deal discounts, and longer advanced quoting guarantees with each progressive tier.

    Tier Investment
    Base $50,000
    Plus $100,000
    Max $200,000

    The fine print.

    We’ve structured the Volato Insider Program around popular routes centered around San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and New York. With each tier upgrade, we increase the range from 125 miles with the Base Tier to 500 miles with the Max Tier. For requests outside these areas, flights are quoted based on our dynamic charter rates.

    What to consider before choosing a membership program.

    As you compare private jet membership companies, there are a few core elements you’ll want to pay particular attention to. While initial investment costs are key details, the ultimate decision should nevertheless consider your typical travel habits and preferences.

    Initial investment

    First and foremost, the core question in the decision-making process is: How much does a private jet membership cost? The minimum initial investment depends on the aircraft size, contract terms, and other specifics. The Volato Insider Program begins at $50,000. Typically, the larger the investment, the greater the level of member benefits.

    Fleet options

    Most operators structure memberships around a specific aircraft type. For example, the Volato Insider Program is built around our fleet of HondaJets. The jet class will dictate your maximum mission range and passenger capacity. Consider your travel needs and compare them against the jets included in the membership. You may also want to confirm if membership offers preferred access to additional jet classes should a mission take you outside the membership limits.

    Region served

    Hand-in-hand with the type of jet included in the membership is the region that it covers. Some programs offer national coverage, while others stick within a specific service area. The Volato Insider Program is designed around highly trafficked zones across the US, from Los Angeles to Houston to New York, with additional bases in between. Ensure you find a membership that services the destinations and airports on your frequently traveled list.

    Exclusive benefits

    Your membership should come with additional benefits beyond the private charters. Volato Insider Program customers gain access to a growing lineup of premium offers, including world-class hotels, VIP entertainment, and more. While the perks shouldn’t drive the decision-making process, they can help when comparing the options.

    Terms and conditions

    Don’t neglect the fine print. Every program will have restrictions and limitations that could contradict your lifestyle. For example, many programs have blackout dates around peak travel periods. Others may not have a refund policy.

    We created the Volato Insider Program in response to the many complicated memberships currently on the market. We’ve eliminated many of the headaches by ensuring no blackout days, no repositioning fees, and a one hundred percent refundable remaining balance.

    How much does a private jet membership cost?

    A private jet membership requires an upfront initial deposit. Whether built as a drawdown or as pre-paid flight hours, an initial investment is always required for membership entry.
    Private jet membership costs typically start around $50,000, with the top-end membership tiers coming in around half a million dollars. Remember that private jet memberships come in unlimited iterations, each with its own fee structure and initial investment requirements.

    We’ve designed Volato’s Insider Program around three membership tiers, with each tier earning the member progressively greater benefits, including better charter rates, daily deal discounts, and more.

    Comparison between jet membership options.

    Private Jet Membership Private Jet Card Fractional Ownership
    Initial Investment Varies (Typically starts around $50,000) Varies (Typically starts around $25,000) Varies
    Key Features Capped rates
    Advanced quoting
    Exclusive partner offers
    Pre-set rate for a block of hours Preferred rates
    Revenue sharing opportunities
    Tax benefits
    Program Structure Deposit drawn down as you fly Pre-purchased blocks of hours Jet ownership based on share size and managed under an aircraft management company
    Fleet Access Usually limited to a specific fleet or jet class Usually limited to a specific fleet or jet class Limited to the specific aircraft type, although may include access to a larger fleet
    Benefits Less administration, preferential rates, and flexibility Convenience, predictability in pricing, sometimes with blackout dates or restrictions Combines ownership perks with reduced management responsibilities

    Private jet membership comparison with first class.

    In terms of amenities, flexibility, and convenience, flying private will always sit head and shoulders above flying commercial. For these reasons and others, there has been a twenty percent increase in private flights since the pandemic.

    Yet, that doesn’t mean first class doesn’t have a few benefits. First, flying first class requires no upfront investment beyond the ticket price. There is also very little need to research before purchasing a ticket.

    private jet membership comparison

    But, for many frequent flyers, the perks of flying first class just aren’t enough. Flying private opens up a world of discretion, airport flexibility, and access that just isn’t possible with a first-class ticket, which is why private jet memberships are increasingly the preferred option.

    Feature Private Jet Membership First-Class Commercial Air Travel
    Cost High initial investment (often $50,000+) plus flight costs Payment per flight, premium prices but much lower than private jets
    Convenience Schedule flights on short notice (4-24 hours) Requires advance booking, fixed schedules
    Privacy Complete privacy and personalized experience Limited privacy, more exclusive than economy class
    Airport Access Access to a wider range of smaller airports Limited to major commercial airports
    Flexibility High flexibility in scheduling, routes, and aircraft types Limited flexibility in schedules and routes

    Private jet memberships are taking off.

    Private jet memberships are transforming elite travel. Membership models are designed for those who value the convenience and flexibility of flying private but prefer not to take on the administration required for jet ownership. While each program varies, membership offers preferred rates, fleet access, and other benefits that just aren’t available on the open market.

    Volato’s Insider Program is a straightforward deposit drawdown system. Members enjoy capped rates on highly trafficked traveled routes using the HondaJet fleet and enjoy a dedicated concierge team to make all their missions seamless. With no blackout days, no repositioning fees, and no monthly fees, what are you waiting for?

    Questions about private jet memberships? Connect with our Experience Concierge Team to Fly Volato.™

    Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only. Volato is not responsible for omissions or inaccuracies in such information, or for data that is no longer accurate due to delay, change in law, rules, or regulations.