The latest advice on understanding how lawsuits, closures, bankruptcies and lack of transparency affect consumers
MIAMI, April 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Private Jet Card Comparisons, an independent buyer's guide to jet cards, fractional ownership and on-demand charter, is offering tips for consumers on how they can avoid losing money and unwanted risk from companies selling private aviation solutions.
"Flying privately saves time, makes all weekends long weekends, and for businesses, increases productivity and efficiency," says Doug Gollan, Editor and Founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons. "Unfortunately, bankruptcies, closures and lack of transparency show that consumers need to do a better job vetting the companies they buy from."
Below are tips from Private Jet Card Comparisons to avoid the pitfalls:
- Don't assume what you read in the media tells the entire story. Companies are not always transparent about what they are selling, and journalists who write articles based on announcements about new programs, apps and funding don't necessarily cover private aviation on a regular basis. For example, BlackBird, an easy-to-use app platform that compares itself to Uber, recently made news when it raised $10 million, however, the company is selling dry leases – an agreement where the buyer must assume operational control of the flight and is legally responsible for ensuring that pilot qualifications, aircraft maintenance records and insurance are all current. You would only know that if you read the 10,000-plus words of agreements you are signing when clicking the buy button.
- Compare media reports to see if the company follows up on its announcements. Executives of Atlanta-based air taxi service ImagineAir announced plans to double its fleet in both 2015 and 2017, but the expansion never happened. The company then shutdown without warning in May 2018, leaving customers out-of-pocket on prepaid jet cards.
- Don't rely on marketing brochures, VIP parties and glossy advertising. Zetta Jet touted its fleet of brand-new Bombardier Global Express long-range aircrafts, white glove service and advertising to help it sell charters and jet cards, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in September 2017 and shut down months later, leaving a 58-page list of creditors who owed over $50 million.
- Research the company you are buying from. Get to know the company by finding out how long they've been around, how many employees they have, if they are part of a larger organization, and who the CEO is. Ask to speak to the CFO. For under $100 you can run a credit report on the company, as well as top executives.
- Check out review sites. While the numbers tend to be limited in private aviation, in the cases of JetSmarter and Ascension Air – which are both facing lawsuits from disgruntled members and denying the allegations – potential customers would have seen reviews moving from positive to negative.
- Limit your financial risk. If you can't ascertain the viability of the company during the period your membership will cover, ask about an escrow account, refund policy, or negotiate splitting up your payments to decrease risk.
- Don't sign before you have your lawyer review the contract. If it is a complicated contract, consider getting an attorney who specializes in aviation law. BlackBird is an example of how even when spending only a few hundred dollars, you might be taking on significant legal responsibility and liability. While Private Jet Card Comparisons doesn't vet financials of 50-plus companies in its database, it enables subscribers to find the programs that best fit their needs by comparing over 65 variables – from hourly rates to surcharges, discounts, service area, payment policies, and sourcing standards for pilots and aircraft, to providing the names of CEOs, headcounts, company history and ownership structure.
Gollan advises buyers to speak with both current and former customers, and says even after joining a program, members should stay alert.
"Customers who have lost money reported noticing declines in performance, higher staff turnover, and an increase in planes either being late or canceled at the last minute," Gollan says. "These can be signs it's time to look into leaving the program."
About Private Jet Card Comparisons
Private Jet Card Comparisons offers subscribers easy-to-use spreadsheets comparing 65 variables and over 250 jet card programs from 50+ providers, including: Air Charter Service; Air Partner; Airshare, Airstream Jets Inc.; Clay Lacy Aviation; Concord Private Jet; DashJet, Delta Private Jets, Inc.; Dreamline Aviation, Dumont Aviation; Executive Jet Management; ExpertJet; Flexjet; Fly Aeolus; GlobeAir; GrandView Aviation, Hopscotch Air, International Jet, Jet Algo, Jet Aviation Flight Services, Inc.; Jet Linx Aviation; Jetlogic Ltd., Jet the World; JetSet Group; JetSuite; Jets.com, Jettly; LunaJets SA, Luxury Aircraft Solutions; Magellan Jets; Netjets (including Marquis Jet); Nicholas Air; Northern Jet Management; ONEFlight International; Outlier Jets; Paramount Business Jets; Private Jet Services Group (PJS Group); PrivateFly; Prive Jets; ProspAir Jet Charter; Quantum Jets, Sentient Jet; Silverhawk Aviation; Skyjet, Solairus Aviation; Star Jets International LLC; StraightLine Private Air; Unity Jets; Vault Jet; Velocity Jets; VistaJet; Wheels Up; and XOJET.
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