When flying small, it pays to be a member

MemberJets makes private aviation more available


After 25 years of flying and 8,000 hours in the sky, pilot Ty Carter saw a gap in the aviation industry: the expense of private flight.

Three years ago in Overland Park, Kansas, Carter launched MemberJets, proprietary software that connects single seats on a private aircraft to individuals at a lower cost and with greater efficiency.

“Typically, private aviation is extremely expensive and aimed toward the uber-wealthy,” Carter said. “We are reimagining traveling for people.”

The MemberJets software links Part 135 aircraft operators — on-demand carriers — to individuals seeking private aviation services. The system uses akind of liscensing that allows the aircraft operator to sell individual seats, something that a Part 135 operator had not been able to do.

As members interact about desired destinations and are able to share the private aircraft, the trip becomes more affordable.

According to privatefly.com, using a private jet typically costs between $5,600 and $160,000. A round-trip flight using MemberJets costs the same as a first-class commercial ticket plus 15 percent, Carter said.

In mid-January, MemberJets took Colorado under its wing by teaming with two new operators: International Jet, based at Centennial Airport and Mountain Aviation, headquartered at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield and operating in Fort Collins, Centennial, Vail, Eagle and Telluride.

Carter said a trip will not be booked unless it is profitable for the flight company.

Sam Gilliss, vice president and general manager of International Jet, said their planes typically have six to eight seats on them. Almost all the seats need to be filled in order for the trip to be profitable.

“On hearing about their program, I think they have a great concept that could serve a segment of a marketplace that has not been served yet,” Gilliss said. “We are excited to help them get this new program off the ground. It becomes a win-win for everybody if everyone can understand and see the benefits of flying in a private jet.”

Members pay for their seats on each flight in addition to an annual fee. As of Jan. 25, MemberJets’ annual membership prices dropped from $1,500 to $250. Only members can use the service.

Carter said that the lower price will attract more members, increasing success for plane operators and making it easier to fill a member’s desired flight.

“The more people who are accessing the system and the more people who are working together, the better the system will be,” Carter said.

The flights offered, called shuttle flights, are typically day trips to a specific destination. After choosing a destination, a member can reach out to family, co-workers and MemberJets members to attract interested parties.

MemberJets offers “journeys” to their members. Depending on the operator, a journey, for example, could be a day-long trip to an out-of-state basketball game in which tickets are included in the MemberJets aviation price.

Carter said that MemberJets is member-driven, meaning if a member requests a specific trip or location of frequent travel, the company will work to make it possible.

Carter said that because members have already undergone a background check, there is no security. Members park next to the aircraft and are in the air within minutes. Minors do not have to purchase a membership, but their seats still need to be purchased.

The private flights travel to 5,000 airports that commercial aviation cannot reach, taking them closer to their destination, Carter said. There are no additional fees for parking or checking luggage and members can park feet from their airplane.

“At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is open up private aviation to a new demographic,” Carter said. “Between commercial and private today, there is nothing that bridges that financial gap. What we are trying to do is bridge that gap so individuals can have the benefits of private aviation.”


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