The Enlightened Personal Traveler
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Written and Produced by Mark Patiky
’Tis the season to be jolly … unless, of course, you are going to be among the more than 40 million passengers who will travel by airline this holiday season. On many counts, it’s been a record year for commercial airline decline. More than 50,000 flights were canceled in the summer months alone, and a quarter of the flights that did take off arrived late to their destinations. Between cancellations, missed connections and record numbers of lost bags, it’s a wonder travelers can reach their getaway spots with any time left to enjoy the vacation.
Former hedge fund manager Elizabeth Rice Grossman knows that the best presents can’t be tied with a bow. “I have three young grandchildren, and to be able to go see them whenever I want to or send [my own plane] to bring them back here is a gift,” says the longtime Flexjet fractional share owner. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
For retired real estate executive and Flight Options fractional owner Dick Michaux, family a thousand miles away — even when they live in hard-to-reach places — seems just around the corner, thanks to his fractional jet share. “We can land at a local airport minutes from their home or ours,” he says.
And what fun is a family getaway if you have to spend half your holiday getting there? “There are trips that I just wouldn’t take if I had to go commercially,” comments John Thompson, chairman of Toronto-Dominion Bank and a Bombardier Skyjet jet card customer, who puts high value on making it easy and convenient to bring friends and family together.
The Secret Revealed
Now you too can discover the secret of enjoyable travel. The Enlightened Personal Traveler is this season’s wish list of great opportunities to try and buy the best that private aviation has to offer. It details the wide variety of options that open up the skies to every schedule and budget, and it speaks to real people who are rediscovering the simple joys of family togetherness in a manic, 24/7 world. From jet cards that make great gifts to fractional shares that allow you to work smarter and play harder to affordable new small jets and planes you once only dreamed you could fly yourself, access to a private aircraft truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Aircraft Management and Charter
Charter not only offers the ultimate in private jet advantages without the ownership commitment, but it’s also the most affordable route, especially for those who typically make round-trip flights returning a day or two later, says Gil Wolin, vice president, corporate communications,TAG Aviation USA, a premier global aircraft management company. “You buy what you need whenever you need it and simply pay as you go,” Wolin says. “Charter also allows you to select a different aircraft for each trip based on seats required and ultimate destination.”
Critical standards for safety and service vary widely among the thousand-plus U.S. charter operators; however, Wolin cautions that a careful review of independent safety audit information is imperative. FAA requirements are a bare minimum, he says. So while the cost might be higher, work only with firms that meet the toughest industry criteria and make safety and security an uncompromised priority.
“I think the freedom that’s involved in having
a personal aircraft is much beyond
any material possession. It’s a great way to celebrate your success …
and it’s the best way I know to really enjoy life.”
- Steve Boone, Owner/President, Northwest Harley-Davidson
TAG can take care of all details and arrange charter anywhere
nationally or globally through a select network of top independent
charter providers. Bombardier Skyjet similarly contracts for charter,
working only with an elite group of the nation’s best operators
that meets the most rigorous quality standards.
A Jet for All Reasons
As a new range of amazingly capable smaller jets comes to market, many individuals are considering outright ownership. Although new buyers often lack the inclination, experience or resources to take on demanding ownership responsibilities, they can rely on professional management firms to provide a turnkey solution.TAG, for example, is one of the world’s largest and most experienced firms, currently managing more than 100 aircraft at over 50 locations in the U.S. alone. Each operation is custom tailored to an owner’s specific needs. In addition, top global firms like TAG can offer substantial volume discounts on key items like fuel, maintenance, insurance and training — savings that invariably offset management fees.
Based on skyrocketing interest in the new breed of small, affordable jets,TAG has again taken the lead by establishing a light-jet management program designed to accommodate shared ownership.Up to four individuals in a similar geographic area can own a single aircraft based at a convenient local airport and can book the airplane by the day with no flight-hour restrictions, says TAG Very Light Jet Program Manager Matthew Sheble.TAG takes care of scheduling, operations and maintenance, and two highly trained TAG pilots are dedicated to the aircraft to take you anywhere, anytime.
Fractional Ownership and Jet Cards
Fractional ownership proved that owning just part of a plane can offer significant advantages over outright ownership such as anytime, anywhere access or access to multiple planes simultaneously. Now jet cards are allowing travelers to experience the unique advantages of fractional ownership without any of the ownership commitment.
The fractional concept is simple: You invest in the desired share size, pay monthly management fees for upkeep and maintenance and a fixed hourly rate for time spent aboard.You’ll gain all the tax benefits of ownership but none of the management responsibilities — and wherever you find yourself, your plane is just a phone call away.
Jet card programs offer the flexibility of charter combined with the consistency, safety and reliability of fractional ownership. But unlike charter, trips are charged on a fixed, per-hour cost and one-way basis with no positioning or empty-leg fees. It’s an ideal arrangement for those with flexible or unpredictable schedules who want to avoid long-term capital investments. Most cards also offer a full refund on any unused balance.
Marquis Jet Card
Marquis Jet heralded the new era of carefree travel by offering all the benefits of NetJets fractional ownership without the long-term capital investment. Sold in 25-hour increments, Marquis Jet Cards are available in single-aircraft cards as well as combo cards, which split hours between two different aircraft types. Card owners can also upgrade or downgrade to their choice of aircraft at a specified hour-interchange rate, so they always have access to the entire Net- Jets fleet.And since NetJets is still the only fractional provider with independent fleets based in Europe and the Middle East, a comprehensive interchange program allows Marquis Jet Card owners to travel seamlessly when abroad — and as safely, efficiently and easily as they do in the U.S.
One Midwest insurance broker found his NetJets fractional share to be so useful for his company that he purchased a 25-hour Marquis Jet card for family travel. Now he separates his business and personal use while retaining the same consistency, service and quality. “We have four young children, and whenever we travel we have about 77 bags, and I’m always afraid I’m going to lose one or the other — either a bag or a child,” he jokes. “Traveling on a Net- Jets aircraft gives us a level of safety that I really enjoy in addition to some unique rewards,” he adds.
“One of the founding principles of this company was a commitment to providing the best quality of life to our employees,” says Jim Jacobsen, founder, chairman and CEO of Centerprise Group, a leading national tax-consulting firm based north of Houston. “We are dedicated to maintaining the necessary infrastructure in our organization to make that possible.” His Marquis Jet Card is an invaluable part of that: It’s the perfect way to minimize travel time and wear and tear while boosting productivity and quality of life.
Currently, Jacobsen has a Gulfstream G IV card, but often selects a Cessna Citation X for increased speed and the ability to land at smaller airports. In fact, both planes have become so strategically important that he plans to purchase separate cards for each plane to guarantee availability.
Though Jacobsen and his colleagues are flying close to 200 hours a year, he still prefers the flexibility of the jet card model, with no need to tie up a large portion of his company’s capital. “It lets us be a little more [financially] nimble,” he explains, “and for an organization like ours, that’s critical.”
While the cost is much higher than that of an airline ticket, Jacobsen is grateful to have a tool that provides him with the one thing he never has enough of: time. “I don’t want to be on the road five days a week,” he says. “If I can get it knocked out in a day, it provides the balance I’m looking for.”
With adaptable programs and economical options, Bombardier
Flexjet is dedicated to giving customers exceptional leverage in
accessing business aircraft benefits. In addition to the traditional fractional
shares in Bombardier Learjets and Challengers, Flexjet offers
unique leasing opportunities in periods as short as 24 months.
To fine-tune their commitments, owners can take advantage of innovative programs like “AnyTime Options,” which guarantees access to larger or smaller aircraft or multiple aircraft in the same day, and “Versatility Plus,” which allows owners to buy and sell extra hours through an exchange pool. It’s paid off handsomely for one West Coast-based advertising executive whose company owns a share in a Learjet 60, but often trades up to the larger Challenger. “As an owner, I get to buy up to 25% more hours in an aircraft of my choice,” he says. “It’s been something that has helped us tremendously.”
In addition, the Flexjet 25 jet card, available in 25-, 30- and 35-hour increments on three Bombardier aircraft, offers the opportunity to simply buy time without the ownership investment. For increased economy, different pricing levels are available based on one’s ability to schedule around peak travel times.
Instead of booking charter trips one at a time with varying rates and no guaranteed availability, Bombardier Skyjet offers a wallet-friendly, charter-based jet card, available in 25-, 50- and 100-hour increments with guaranteed access to small-, midsize- or large-cabin jets. Skyjet utilizes an elite group of the nation’s top charter providers — the highest-ranked for excellence in safety and service — that also meets Skyjet’s own stringent quality standards. Flight time is charged at the predetermined rates, but only for time spent aboard. If you need a smaller or larger aircraft, you can upgrade or downgrade using a simple conversion ratio. A combined one-way/round-trip jet card discount-priced for even greater savings is also available.
It’s the perfect solution for John Thompson, chairman of Toronto-Dominion Bank, who retains a Skyjet Card to easily separate his personal business and leisure travel. Unlike on-demand charter,Thompson doesn’t need to worry about empty-leg or repositioning charges when traveling with Skyjet. He also likes Skyjet’s dedicated personal concierge service, which handles all travel arrangements.
For the greatest economy,Thompson purchased the midsize aircraft card, which also gives him the flexibility to select a smaller or larger plane. But for those who prefer to fly exclusively on Bombardier aircraft, Skyjet also offers Learjet- or Challenger-specific cards.
After a successful career as a hedge fund manager in New York City, Elizabeth Rice Grossman swapped hectic days on Wall Street for farm life in Ventura County, Calif. But while she loves the slower pace of country living, she still needs a way to move around quickly. With the closest commercial airport well over an hour’s drive away, she knew a private aircraft would be an excellent personal investment.
Grossman did not want the responsibility of owning a plane outright — although she was traveling about 150 hours a year for her new personal business interests — so Flexjet fractional ownership proved to be the perfect answer.
Grossman’s initial share in a Learjet 40 enabled her to serve on boards all across California and Washington and maintain investment properties throughout the West, many of them inaccessible by airlines. Recently, Grossman purchased a second share in the larger Challenger for long-term work in Hawaii and additional bicoastal travel. “It’s an unbelievable luxury,” she exclaims. “It saves you stress. It saves you hours of time. I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to take advantage of it.”
Today, those fractional shares are paying big dividends by keeping her family connected. “Spending time with the people I care about is the most important thing to me,” emphasizes Grossman. “It’s value added to your whole life.”
Flight Options, owned by Raytheon Corporation, continues to
raise the bar with unique ownership programs. Flight Options
makes private travel increasingly affordable with a streamlined fleet
of small-cabin and midsize Hawkers, ultra-fast Cessna Citation Xs
and large-cabin Embraer Legacy 600s, plus innovative cost-saving
The versatile “Fractional First” plan offers the flexibility of flying 80% to 120% of total contract hours within the life of the agreement while paying management fees only on hours flown. Off-peak pricing — yet another way Flight Options is breaking the fractional mold — adds even greater economy.
Based in airline-challenged Olympia,Wash., Steve Boone, owner and president of Northwest Harley-Davidson, relies on his Flight Options Hawker 400. “You just call and the plane shows up,” he says. “It’s so nice to be able to own a plane and not have to do anything.” Boone also appreciates the discounted travel rates available through Flight Options’ “Departure Options” program, which offers owners increased cost savings in return for greater flexibility with departure times and specific aircraft requests.
“[With my Skyjet Card], there’s no stress. I have complete control over my schedule
so I can concentrate on playing golf, not on traveling. It enables me to
take advantage of new opportunities and still get home to my family.”
- Bo Van Pelt, Professional Golfer
Lease options, some for as few as 12 months, offer enhanced
financial leverage.One such option is the popular “Buy 25, Lease 25”
program, through which owners can split hours between
different aircraft if desired, significantly reducing large capital
investments. Meanwhile, the brand-new “Fractional Interchange
Management” program allows buyers to purchase a whole plane
yet retain the advantages of fractional ownership, thereby gaining
benefits never before available to whole aircraft owners.
Combining the timesaving power of a fractional share with the financial advantage of a JetPASS Ultimate Travel Card, any company can act like a big firm and budget like a small one. “It’s a much more efficient way to do business,” says one JetPASS Ultimate owner. Cards are sold in fixed-dollar amounts with significant discounts for off-peak travel, and customers can choose from any small-, midsize- or large-cabin aircraft in the fleet at predetermined flight-hour pricing.
Rancher Mike Miniat raises cattle, hunts big game and enjoys a good rodeo, but even this cowboy can’t rustle up decent airline service when he’s home on the range. Miniat, whose home and business stretches across 7,400 acres of pristine Colorado countryside, found nothing accessible about a commercial airport that’s a three-hour drive, some of it along treacherous mountain roads.
Fortunately, Miniat discovered the Flight Options JetPASS Ultimate card, and now he’s free to roam. “I live in a remote area in the mountains, but I can fly into our local airport, have my pickup pull right up to the plane and be home in 20 minutes,” Miniat says. “It’s the only luxury I really have out here.”
Flying direct to Honduras to discover new investment properties, frequenting small Midwestern towns for his cattle business or checking on his ranch north of Tucson, Ariz., Miniat’s jet allows him to be “far more aggressive” in his business plans. And since JetPASS Ultimate offers access to any plane in the Flight Options fleet, it’s perfect for his varying travel needs.
Currently, Miniat is averaging 50 hours of flight time a year, but he expects that to increase thanks to the ability to take advantage of discounted off-peak travel. “I live the cowboy life,” says Miniat, whose baggage often consists of merely a saddle. “I can pick and choose my travel days, and that cuts the cost significantly,” he adds. “I’m not the CEO of a big company; I’m just a rancher who wears nothing but blue jeans and cowboy boots, but I find [having a jet card] extremely beneficial.”