Fractional Aircraft Ownership vs. Jet Membership: Making an Informed Choice

PC24 Jet Membership

With the ever-changing market of private air travel, it can be overwhelming to navigate the various programs available. Two popular options that private flyers often compare are fractional aircraft ownership and jet membership programs. Choosing between the two requires careful consideration since they differ greatly. Here are some key points to consider when comparing these options:

How much you fly makes a difference

Fractional aircraft ownership and jet membership programs cater to different preferences and needs. Fractional ownership is an investment-oriented approach, while jet membership focuses on low commitment from the user.

Memberships are typically better suited for infrequent travelers. There are a few different types of membership options on the market, but most are founded upon the pay-as-you-go model. At the onset, you pay an initial entry fee that guarantees access to private aircraft for a set period of time. Flights are then paid for separately.

Conversely, fractional aircraft ownership involves the private flyer purchasing an actual asset, a share of a specific aircraft. Share sizes are usually customized to the number of flight hours needed. For example, one-sixteenth, which typically equals 50 hours annually, up to one quarter, which equals 200 flight hours annually. Fractional ownership is often the preferred choice for those who fly more than 25 hours per year because of the financial savings and long-term investment benefits­.

Both membership and fractional programs alleviate the need for the flyer to manage the overall operations of the aircraft such as pilot hiring and scheduling, aircraft hangaring, and flight scheduling. These costs are covered differently in each program. Fractional ownership includes a monthly management cost structure while membership programs cover those costs through various fees.

What is the real cost?

Private flight membership programs require an upfront initial fee to join the program, and then separate costs for each flight. Sometimes, additional fees are not outlined clearly, so it’s important to understand all the costs before making a decision. Will there be fees for repositioning the aircraft to your location? Do costs go up on days with high flight volumes? Will you incur deicing costs if your rented plane needs it? What other costs can you expect? In contrast, fractional operations, such as the PlaneSense® program, provide costs up front, which typically include defined costs for monthly management fees, hourly flight fees, etc.

Flexibility of flights

Blackout dates and peak days are common in on-demand private flights, which can affect cost and availability. Depending on the level of membership, flyers in these programs may encounter numerous blackout dates and peak days, which could restrict flight availability. In contrast, fractional owners in the PlaneSense® program are offered more flexibility with guaranteed access to the fleet. With only 10 peak days annually, and no blackout dates, share owners are able to fly on their preferred schedule, no matter what size share they have purchased.

It’s also important to understand what happens when there is an issue preventing the operator from fulfilling your reservation, such as a mechanical issue. Will your flights be fulfilled or are they more than likely to be canceled? Membership programs don’t always offer the same flexibility of fractional programs.

Quality counts

When it comes to flying privately, it’s extremely important to understand the quality of aircraft you’re flying on and the training of the pilots flying them. In the case of the PlaneSense® fractional program, pilot training, maintenance, and aircraft age are of the highest priority. Managed internally, there is great focus on ensuring that quality is maintained at every level. Some membership programs rely on third party vendors to train pilots and maintain aircraft. No matter what program you’re considering, ask about safety certifications, maintenance standards, and pilot qualifications. These factors are just as important as weighing the costs and flexibility of the many private flight options available on the market.

To learn more about how the PlaneSense® program can benefit your flight needs, call us at 866-214-1212 or email us at

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