Jumpjet Launches Monthly Membership Service to Let Anyone Fly Private

Earlier this year we wrote about SurfAir, billed as the Netflix of air travel, which lets consumers pay one monthly fee for unlimited travel on private planes. Newport Beach, CA-based Jumpjet is looking to provide a different spin on the “private air travel for everyone” model, announcing the launch of its monthly membership-based service that aims to provide private jet travel for the price of first class.

Jumpjet founder Will Ashcroft, a helicopter pilot and aviation entrepreneur, said he started the company to close the gap between commercial and private air travel for customers. “For me, to be able to bridge that gap and say ‘guess what, you now have an option,’ I think is an enormous driver, and one of the main factors behind Jumpjet,” Ashcroft said in an interview.

The company offers monthly memberships, the lowest tier priced at $2,350 per month, which gets users 10 roundrip flights per year to destinations within 1,750 miles. The highest subscription plan is $5,550 per month, which includes 10 roundrip flights anywhere in the U.S. The company also lets travelers and companies put together custom subscription plans, based on where they need to go and the number of people they need to fly, and has a Jump Shared program that lets members share their monthly fee with up to 10 friends and family.

Jumpjet is accepting new members today, and will start taking reservations on October 15 from its 40 departure cities across the U.S., with flights to over 500 destinations starting on November 1. The company lets members purchase companion passes for $1,250-$2,000 per guest, and also has a frequent flyer program that lets members fly on any existing flight with available space for free, with no limits on how many frequent flyer seats they can use in a month.

“At any given time, any member can go ahead and select one of those seats within their membership class and go fly free, no additional [charge],” Ashcroft said. “It’s our way of saying we have these, let’s let the members enjoy them, say thank you, and increase their value proposition.”

The company doesn’t own its fleet of planes, and rather works with charter companies who own Citation, Gulfstream, Falcon and Bombardier aircrafts, with access to approximately 80,000 hours of flying time per day. Ashcroft said the company’s back-end booking engine is one of its biggest differentiators. It was built by Ira Gershkoff, the CEO of SlipStream Aviation Software, to align member requests with aircraft availability.

The company bills itself as a luxury travel club, and Ashcroft says their target market is both travelers used to flying private, and commercial airline passengers who are looking for the equivalent of a first-class experience on a private plane. “The largest part of our market segment is the current airline traveler who really just looks out the window and says ‘wow, I want to experience that one day,’ but never can because it’s price prohibitive,” he says, adding that it’s definitely not meant for the person who’s looking for the cheapest fare. “We’re not [marketing] to the individual that’s searching for the ultimate deal, you know $49 one way,” Ashcroft said. ”

Several private air travel startups have popped up in the last two years, including Social Flights, which lets people with similar travel plans band together to book private planes, and SurfAir’s unlimited monthly membership model. The price point for SocialFlights is much lower than Jumpjet, with prices reportedly as low as $150 per leg for fully-booked planes. Ashcroft said he believes Jumpjet’s booking engine sets them apart, as does its routes, which span across the U.S. (as opposed to SurfAir, which has yet to launch and when it does will only service areas of California). “None of these other companies are really capable…of doing this on a massive national scale, and even a global scale, as Jumpjet will do over the next five years.”

While Ashcroft believes Jumpjet will benefit travelers and charter airline companies, he does admit that commercial airlines likely won’t be thrilled about the service. “In terms of denting the airline industry I’m quite sure there’s going to be some pushback as they see a trend and they see our numbers grow, but I think also they’ve had the opportunity to change this experience for so many years and have ignored it,” he said. “The fact that they’ve had all the chance in the world to fix it and haven’t really puts us in an enviable position.”

While the company is U.S.-only at launch, Ashcroft said he has plans to launch the service next in Canada, then seasonally to the Caribbean, and eventually to Europe. The service certainly isn’t ideal for budget-conscious flyers, or for anyone looking to fly international in the short-term. But if Jumpjet can prove to be a way to encourage people with bigger travel budgets to fly private more often, it could be a boon for charter companies, while potentially being a thorn in commercial airlines’ side.

 

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin has covered startups and technology for over three years in publications including Sprouter Weekly, The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, Mashable, and VentureBeat. She also writes a regular startup column for the Financial Post, and is a technology expert on CTV News Channel. Before BetaKit Erin worked as Director of Content & Communications at Sprouter from its launch in 2009 until its acquisition by Postmedia Network Inc. She was recently named one of Marketing Magazine's 30 Under 30 in 2012.

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