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Update: 1/3/17: Use code YTOCHD to receive a la carte, pay-as-you-fly trial access with JetSmarter.
Update 9/29/16: Effective today, it’s no longer possible to receive flight credits using code “THEPOINTSGUY.”
Update: Code FLY1000 is no longer active, but you can still sign up and receive $1000 in flight credits after membership purchase using THEPOINTSGUY code. Some readers have reported FLY500 working for a $500 flight credit. Additionally, you may receive $1,000 (or possibly even $2,000) in credit when using code CITYGALA2016.
I have a dirty confession to make: Not too long ago I was introduced to the world of private jets and my addiction is growing. Yes, I know that might sound a bit crazy, given that I’m The Points Guy and I love getting tons of value from my points and miles, but when your life is insanely busy and you travel a lot, sometimes the most valuable things are your time and overall experience — it was so nice to fly home from Miami to New York on the Challenger 650 a few weeks ago with Miles, who also loves flying in style.
Let me just say, if you’ve never flown in a private jet, you may not want to because the minute you start, you become totally jaded about everything else. It’s just a whole different experience, whether it’s not having to deal with the TSA or going through security (unless you’re flying within Europe where they generally make people flying private go through security anyway), to generally being able to fly in and out of airports closer to cities. It’s not all rosy and not all private jets are big and luxurious — in fact, a lot of them are kind of like small, regional jets — but, there’s something really great about it.
The good thing is, these days, there are a lot of new startups that will allow you to fly private and share the jet with others so you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to take advantage of the service. That’s where I heard about JetSmarter. I’ve been a member now for nine months and haven’t written about it yet because I really wanted to make sure it’s a good deal before I even discussed it with TPG readers.
Frankly, if you know how to use it, it’s an incredible deal. Just pay an initiation fee of $3,000 to start, and then $9,000 each year for an annual membership (when I first started with this service I paid $7,500 for the year, but rates have increased since then). The app itself is also pretty user-friendly. Here’s a peek at what you’ll find:
JetSmarter is especially great if you’re a flexible, last-minute traveler, as the available flight options change daily. Usually the day of your flight, the next day, or even three days later, there will be empty legs available so you can typically get these for free as part of the membership.
I’ve taken advantage of this perk before. I was in Cannes for the Cannes Film Festival last May and saw that they had a Nice to Paris flight available. Instead of having to fly on an expensive intra-European flight, my friend and I booked it through JetSmarter and just flew private instead. The experience was great and it really was free since there are no hidden charges or extra fees once you’re a member. I also just found out Delta Private Jets is going to be partnering with JetSmarter, so soon there will be even more private jet inventory to choose from.
I think the coolest thing is its jet shuttle service, which is amazing. Here’s how it works: You get two tokens, so you can have two segments booked at any given time and once you fly, you get your token back. This system is in place to prevent people from booking up every shuttle since you can only have two reservations booked at one time, which for me is quite reasonable.
JetSmarter flies between pairs of cities, as shown in the chart below. The amazing thing is they now fly from New York to Los Angeles — I’m actually flying back after the Academy Awards for $0 in a G4 private jet from LA to JFK!
JetSmarter also just announced they’ve added four new routes on the Gulfstream IV SP including New York – San Francisco, New York – Las Vegas, Los Angeles – Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale – Las Vegas. As Jetsmarter keeps expanding their collection of routes, the service gets better and better in my eyes.
One of my favorite included perks is free helicopter service from Manhattan to either Westchester County Airport (HPN) or Teterboro Airport (TEB). It’s pretty chic and the whole experience almost feels like it’s too good to be true. Yes, $9,000 seems like a lot of money for an annual membership, but think about it: If you fly between New York and Miami (or any of these routes) several times a year, especially in first class, it can really add up and you have to deal with airport security, so using JetSmarter makes more sense if you value premium flying and your time.
Another hidden benefit of JetSmarter is that you meet really, really cool people. I’ve met tons of entrepreneurs and made plenty of important connections, so if you’re in business or you want to network, this service can be great. It’s also pretty cool flying into Miami and having the option to land in Miami–Opa Locka Executive Airport (OPF), Fort Lauderdale (FLL) or West Palm Beach (PBI) instead of being locked into just one airport option.
Right now, you can get $1,000 in credit (that can be used even if you aren’t a member) by using promo code Fly1000 — an offer that is good for both existing and new members for a limited time. Even if you don’t become a member, you can still use the Fly1000 credit to book a flight and test it out for yourself. But be warned, once you start flying JetSmarter, you will be hooked.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards