Commercial airline Delta has its own private jet company, named Delta Private Jets, while the private aviation pioneer NetJets is the worlds largest private aviation company. Here’s a look at how they compare.
Though others claim to have invented the jet card, NetJets is the undisputed originator of the fractional ownership model. The company was established in 1964 as Executive Jet Aviation, and was bought—and renamed NetJets—by Goldman Sachs exec Richard Santulli in 1984. Santulli used his background as a mathematician to analyze 22 years’ worth of pilot logbooks in developing his concept, which started out with 10 Learjet aircraft. The company, which is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, currently has a fleet of over 700 aircraft worldwide. NetJets offers both fractional ownership and jet cards.
Delta Private Jets, which started in 1983, is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. The sixth-oldest airline still in operation, Delta traces its roots back to a 1920s crop-dusting operation, and later that decade expanded its flight program to include passenger service. Delta Private Jets offers jet cards, Sky Access membership and on demand charters aboard more than 70 wi-fi equipped aircraft.
NetJets and Delta both offer four sizes of private aircraft for luxury travel. NetJets buys all it's own aircraft, so the fleet are consistently equipped and fitted out, and have fewer aircraft models. The Delta fleet is more varied, because Delta does not buy the aircraft, but instead manages the planes on behalf of other owners. So these planes are bought by and fitted out to the individual owners requirements. Overall the Delta fleet is more varied in the aircraft models and how each of these is equipped.
The NetJets fleet includes:
- Embraer Phenom 300—up to 6 passengers; 74 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,196 km (4 hours) range. One of NetJets’ most requested aircraft, thanks to its comfortable interior.
- Cessna Citation Excel/XLS—up to 7 passengers; 79 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,441 km range (4.15 hours). Offers the amenities of a midsize-cabin jet with the ability to fly into and out of smaller airports.
- Cessna Citation Latitude—up to 8 passengers; 100 cubic feet baggage capacity; 4,937 km range (7 hours). This midsize jet measures 6 feet in cabin height and has the largest cross-section in NetJets’ midsize class.
- Cessna Citation Sovereign—up to 8 passengers; 100 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,219 km range (7.15 hours). Able to fly longer ranges in high elevations.
- Cessna Citation Longtitude – up to 8 passengers; 112 cubic feet baggage capacity; 6,482 km range (7.45 hours). Has the quietest cabin in its class.
- Cessna Citation X - up to 8 passengers; 72 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,476 km range (6.15 hours). This nimble aircraft can reduce cross-country travel by up to 35 minutes.
- Bombardier Challenger 350 - up to 9 passengers; 106 cubic feet baggage capacity; 6,047 km range (7.45 hours). Transcontinental range and outstanding runway performance.
- Dassault Falcon 2000/2000EX - up to 10 passengers; 134 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,429 km range (6.30 hours). This aircraft mixes business with pleasure, offering flexible conference and club seating and a comfortable large-cabin feel.
- Bombardier Challenger 650 - up to 11 passengers; 115 cubic feet baggage capacity; 6,833 km range (8.45 hours). Considered a world-class large-cabin jet, the Challenger 650 provides optimal comfort and mobility during coast-to-coast and even intercontinental flights.
- Gulfstream IV-SP/G450 - up to 14 passengers; 169 cubic feet baggage capacity; 7,242 km range (9.45 hours). Another great choice for intercontinental flights.
- Bombardier Global 5000 - up to 13 passengers; 195 cubic feet baggage capacity; 10,452 km range (11.45 hours). Designed for premium comfort, this large-cabin aircraft is a popular choice for transatlantic trips.
- Bombardier Global 6000—up to 13 passengers; 195 cubic feet baggage capacity; 11,632 km range (13.30 hours). Known for its transpacific performance, this speedy jet has long range.
The Delta managed fleet includes:
- Cessna Citation CJ3—up to 7 passengers; 65 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,276 km range. Its 45,000-foot service ceiling allows this jet to fly far above commercial airliners.
- Nextant 400XTI—up to 7 passengers; 26 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,710 km range. This jet has an impressive range for a light cabin, thanks to it lighter and more fuel-efficient engines.
- Cessna Citation CJ2—up to 6 passengers; 65 cubic feet baggage capacity; 2,011 km range. This speedy and adaptable jet takes just 17 minutes to climb to 37,000 feet.
- Phenom 300 - up to 8 passengers; 74 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,354 km range. The Phenom 300 strikes the balance of speed, field performance, and range.
- Cessna Citation CJ3+—up to up to 6 passengers; 65 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,778 km range. An upgrade of Cessna’s Citation CJ3, this jet has fully articulated seats with folding armrests, for increased aisle room, as well as in-seat USB outlets.
- Cessna Citation Excel/XLS—up to 7 passengers; 79 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,441 km range. Offers the amenities of a midsize-cabin jet with the ability to fly into and out of smaller airports.
- Bombardier Learjet 45 Series—up to 7 passengers; 65 cubic feet baggage capacity; 2,897 km range. Able to fly into and out of small rural airports and landing strips, and with a top speed of 533 mph, the Learjet 45 is a favorite of the busy executive.
- Bombardier Learjet 60—up to 7 passengers; 48 cubic feet baggage capacity; 4,104 km range. Contoured seating, writing tables, and interior soundproofing give this jet a quiet, comfortable, productivity-enhancing ride.
- Bombardier Learjet 75—up to 6 passengers; 60 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,704 km range. With large-jet features in a reliable midsize platform, the Learjet 75 is popular among Fortune 500 companies.
- Bombardier Learjet 45XR—up to 8 passengers; 50 cubic feet baggage capacity; 3,795 km range. Called the “Swiss Army knife of jets” by Flying Magazine, the 45XR redefined the light-jets category when it was first introduced in 2004.
- Hawker 800XP—up to 8 passengers; 48 cubic feet baggage capacity; 4,546 km range. A generous cabin, amenities, and midrange flight capability make this a popular choice for business travelers and VIPs.
- Bombardier Learjet 60 XR—up to 7 passengers; 24 cubic feet baggage capacity; 4,461 km range. A dependable mid-size cabin, medium-range business jet.
- Cessna Citation X—up to 9 passengers; 104 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,310 km range. This is one of the fastest midsize jets, with a top speed of 604 mph.
- Cessna Citation Sovereign—up to 9 passengers; 135 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,069 km range. Known for its short-field performance, the Citation Sovereign is the second-largest of the Citation line.
- Bombardier Challenger 300—up to 9 passengers; 106 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,552 km range. Spacious and comfortable, this jet is capable of flying transcontinental distances.
- Gulfstream G200—up to 9 passengers; 150 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,794 km range. The luxury interior, generously sized cabin, and upgraded audio system make the G200 a favorite of VIPs and celebrities.
- Hawker 4000—up to 9 passengers; 115 cubic feet baggage capacity; 5,047 km range. Known for its smooth and quiet flight, this jet boasts a 6-foot cabin height and an intercontinental range.
- Bombardier Challenger 350—up to 9 passengers; 106 cubic feet baggage capacity; 6,047 km range. One of the longest flying ranges of all private jets.
- Gulfstream IV—up to 13 passengers; 169 cubic feet baggage capacity; 7,820 km range. Popular for corporate use because of its ability to fly into and out of smaller airports while still carrying larger groups of passengers.
- Bombardier Challenger 604—up to 12 passengers; 115 cubic feet baggage capacity; 7,081 km range. With its reduced weight and powerful engines, this jet is ideal for long-range trips.
- Gulfstream GV—up to 16 passengers; 226 cubic feet baggage capacity; 10,943 km range. The choice of high-profile entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and the late Steve Jobs, this jet is used for a variety of government and military operations both in the United States and abroad.
Delta offers guaranteed booking with 24 hours’ notice for its jet card holders, as well as the choice of jet category for each flight. Delta Jet Cards members can also use their funds toward commercial flights on Delta Air Lines. Delta card holders have as few as fifteen peak days a year, when 120 hours’ advanced notice is required for guaranteed delivery bookings.
Delta Sky Access Memberships have 20 days annually which are scheduled as blackout days when private travel cannot be booked. More than 24 hours notice is required before departure time for a domestic flight or more than 48 hours before departure time for an international flight.
NetJets fractional owners can give as little as 4 to 6 hours’ notice for booking. There are 15 peak period days; 48 hours’ notice is required for travel on these days.
For NetJets Marquis Jet Cards, plan on 10 hours’ notice. There are 30 to 45 peak days, with 120 hours’ notice required during peak. FET is excluded from the overall price, and flights are subject to a fuel surcharge.
NetJets Elite Jet Cards, which are limited to its two Citation light jets, are offered in 25-hour blocks. Twenty-four hours’ notice is required, and there are 45 peak days per year, also with 120-hour minimum booking notice. A 25% premium is assessed for hours on peak days with the Elite card, unlike with the Marquis card, but Elite pricing includes FET and fuel.
For all three NetJets programs, downgrades are guaranteed, and upgrades are subject to availability, within 24 hours of making a request. Card program members can also expect extra fees for international, ground transportation, and other miscellaneous charges.
Hours, Memberships, and Pricing
Deposits for the Delta Private Jets Card start at $150,000. Hourly rates, which include fuel and taxes, start at $5,250 for a light jet, and are locked in for up to two years.
The Delta Sky Access program has an initial membership fee of $8,500 and then $6,000 each subsequent year. The hourly rates start at $5,995 on a light jet. All Delta members have access to view and book empty legs with Delta Private Jets Shuttle.
Although it doesn’t provide the range of lifestyle perks that other private jet companies do, Delta Jet Cards give members SkyMiles Diamond Medallion Status and elite partnerships with premium brands, luxury hotels and more. These perks include private-to- commercial transfers at select airports in a Porsche.
For a share in a specific aircraft, NetJets Ownership allows you to purchase a minimum of a 1/16 interest equivalent to 50 hours’ of flight time. There’s a one-time acquisition cost, plus a monthly management fee and an occupied hourly fee for fuel, maintenance, catering, and landing (the overall price varies by aircraft and flight frequency). After the minimum term, NetJets offers a guaranteed buy-back option if you opt out of the program.
For travelers who fly fewer than 50 hours per year, the NetJets Marquis Jet Cards offer prepaid access to the aircraft of your choice. You have 25 hours at a time, valid for 18 months, with the flight time deducted from your card balance as you use it. Pricing starts in the neighborhood of $170,000.
NetJets is constantly adding to its lifestyle benefits program, from private parties at sports and cultural events to private concerts, complementary car rentals, special pricing on accommodations at luxury resorts, and even unique vacation packages.
Delta’s Jet Card has a two-year term and the Sky Access membership is renewed annually. Similarly, NetJets Ownership has a minimum term of 36 months, while its Marquis Jet Card and Elite Card are for 18-months.
The legacy of the Delta name, a simple pricing structure, and members’ ability to book both private and commercial flights with their card balance is a big part of the company’s Jet Card allure. Meanwhile, NetJets offers the additional flexibility of both ownership and card programs, plus a wide range of lifestyle benefits. Which one provides the most value for your budget?