Runway Guide: Private Jet Ownership vs. Private Jet Membership

November 15, 2022

Private jet providers offer many attractive programs and incentives that encourage private flight booking, no matter your experience or level of commitment. Although some require more significant stakes and upfront costs, they do offer unmatched control and freedom, while other pay-as-you-go programs are designed around flexibility and spontaneity. Your choice of private jet program should complement your ambitions and agenda, year to year.

Two programs on either end of the access spectrum are aircraft whole or fractional ownership and something that resembles a private jet membership. Although these are seemingly opposing approaches to private jet access, both ‘programs’ require an all-in cost perspective to fully understand your commitment and how to maximize your advantages within their parameters.

If asset and schedule control is your priority, it may be worth considering going all-in from a jet ownership perspective. However, if you wish to trial private aviation at lower level of commitment, jet memberships may offer the solution you need but your costs will reflect an all-in hourly cost structure.

The dynamics around selecting a private jet need to conform to your agenda and trip requirements. Newer, premium aircraft are usually part of a greater jet fleet, owned and restricted to a particular program(s). Accessing the right aircraft for you may potentially require program enrollment.

The question remains, which jet access philosophy is right for you?

How Does Private Jet Ownership Work?

Fractional jet ownership allows you to choose a specific aircraft type; for the most part, those types come in standard configurations. Jet card or ‘membership’ products vary between operators and brokers, so with broker jet cards, you can typically get various aircraft types and structures within a category – light jet, midsize jet, super mid, and ultra-long-range.

It’s also worth noting that fractional programs also typically feature newer, more premium aircraft while jet card or charter programs tend to utilize second generation aircraft. Lead time for booking and canceling flights is also generally less than jet cards, so if your trips are booked or changed within 24 hours of departure, fractional jet ownership allows for maximum scheduling flexibility.

However, there is a considerable advantage to many fractional jet ownership models because with a provider like Flexjet, your contract may grant you the ability to upgrade or downgrade your aircraft via other available fleet cabin classes. This is great for travel that may vary in distance and accessibility. Owning your private jet will only allow access to your aircraft, which can present issues between scheduled maintenance or other instances of unforeseen downtime. Being part of a fleet leaves you unimpeded by these travel delays.


For those who fly 50+ hours per year, fractional jet ownership typically allows you to make an initial purchase of shared equity in an aircraft, fixed and agreed-on annual private jet ownership cost, and an hourly transportation fee based on your actual flight time.

Share sizes range from 1/16th (50 hours) to 1/2 (400 hours) or even the full book of available hours (800). Each level gives an Owner a percentage of the 800 flight hours available per year on each respective aircraft. For example, a one-eighth share entitles an Owner to 100 flight hours annually, or approximately 50,000 miles.

Other popular programs include most private jet lease programs (which give an all-in hourly cost-minimizing capital expenditure) and other type-specific private jet membership or jet card programs for those who fly less often.

Jet leasing is a program some find an ideal balance between fractional jet ownership and a jet rental. If you are starting to explore which private aviation solution may be best for you, ask yourself how comfortable you are with most large commitments.

How Does a Jet Membership Work?

A private jet charter is the closest private jet option to buying a ticket on a commercial flight. There is no upfront financial investment as you would have if you purchased a whole aircraft or even a fraction of a plane. You are not responsible for aircraft maintenance, management, or pilot training costs. Booking a trip is typically as easy as a commercial flight – go through an app or website and request your aircraft.

However, there are some things a consumer should consider in this space.

Small provider chartered jets are typically heavily utilized and could need maintenance more often, creating gaps in service that erode some of the benefits of private aviation in the first place. Jet memberships typically offer an attractive, approachable low upfront cost; however, some providers and brokers can layer on additional fees under this all-in hourly approach.

Additionally, rates will vary widely from provider to provider – even among similar aircraft and similar travel windows, so the ability to secure the best value becomes a more challenging prospect.

Learn more about how Flexjet is raising the bar within the charter space with program offerings like the Aviator Account Membership from FXAIR. They provide premium on-demand charter experience with unmatched preferred access to a ultra-modern fleet of aircraft with a network of 2500+ jets available globally.

Want to learn more about Flexjet’s unmatched programs and services? Contact our team via our website or call us at (866) 473-0025 to discover more about our exclusive exclusive fractional jet ownership, private jet lease, or a premium charter on-demand jet program.