Road Warrior

Start-Up Jumpjet Goes After First-Class Fliers

Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Start-up Jumpjet officially debuts its new private jet service today. The company is launching a drive for new members as the company aims to fill a niche that its founder says falls somewhere between fractional jet ownership and the market for first-class fliers on traditional airlines.

Jumpjet will be popular with "frustrated" premium passengers "who've got nowhere else to turn," says Will Ashcroft, Jumpjet's founder and CEO.

At one end of the spectrum, Ashcroft says JumpJet will allow high-end frequent-fliers accustomed to first class flights to switch to private jet flying for a fixed monthly fee. Ashcroft says those customers will get private jet service for a price that is competitive with what major airlines charge for domestic first- and business-class fares.

"You're going to see a value against your current airline experience," Ashcroft promises about the fledging company's operation.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ashcroft says he thinks Jumpjet will be a good option for customers who can't — or don't want to — commit to the big cash outlay or minimum flight hours needed for the so-called fractional aircraft ownership outfits.

"The price point is very high end, not for the average first-class flier," Ashcroft says of the factional ownership outfits.

How it works

Jumpjet members pay a $550 initiation fee that covers administrative costs and the price of vetting potential members against the government's "no-fly list." If approved, members choose from one of three packages, the cheapest of which starts at $2,350 flights per month.

The packages are:

• Upper Club: At $2,350 per month, the cheapest of Jumpjet's packages comes with 10 round trips per year on flights of 1,750 miles or less. At an annualized total cost of $28,200, that essentially makes the per-round-trip price of each flight drop to $2,820 for each round-trip itinerary.

• Upper Club Plus: For $3,995 per month, "Plus" customers get the same 10 round-trip package but it comes with an extended flight range of 2,250 miles.

• Coast to Coast Elite: This package offers the most flexibility on flight range, coming with 10 round-trip flights that can be booked to any destination in the USA's 48 mainland states. It costs $5,550 a month.

• Jump Share: This option allows a group of up to 10 friends or family members to pool their resources to purchase either an Upper Club or Upper Club Plus membership. The group can then divvy up their 10 annual round-trips among among the group's paying members any way they'd like.

All of the memberships require a year-long commitment to pay the monthly fee.

When members are ready to book their flights, they must reserve their itinerary at least two weeks in advance. However, customers will be able to name both their routes and their departure times for whichever flights they choose to schedule.

While the two-week minimum booking requirement is more restrictive than the on-demand service offered by fractional-ownership operations, Jumpjet touts members' ability to set their own routes and schedules as a big advantage over the traveling public's other option for premium service: commercial airline flights.

"Just sort of play within some rules and you can experience a luxurious travel option for a reasonable price," Ashcroft says. "The rules we lay down — along with our scheduling technology — allow us to do that."

Jumpjet customers' flights will be booked across a range of private jets that include aircraft from corporate jetmakers Citation, Gulfstream, Falcon and Bombardier.

There's also an option for members to bring guests along on their scheduled flights, part of what Jumpjet labels as it's "Jumpjet Guest Club."

Members can add up to seven guests to passenger list of their scheduled flights.

The cost for adding guests is $1,250 per round-trip for Upper Club and Upper Club Plus members and $2,000 per round-trip for Coast to Coast Elite members. The fee allows the member to add anywhere from one to seven guests to their round-trip itinerary. The guests must be added and paid for at the time an itinerary is booked.

Another perk Jumpjet hopes will appeal to prospective members: Once itineraries booked by other members are set, Jumpjet will make those schedules public to its members, opening up any excess seats on those flights to other Jumpjet members. Open seats on flights booked by other members will be posted anywhere from 24 hours to 24 days prior to that flight.

"Any empty seat our system creates can be passed along absolutely free," Ashcroft says, touting the company's flight scheduling technology that he says makes Jumpjet possible in the first place.

Members "could potentially have 30 or 40 additional flights a year at no charge," he says.

Membership drive

Jumpjet says it will begin excepting members today. Approved members will be able to begin making reservations starting Oct. 15 for Jumpjet itineraries beginning on Nov. 1 and onward.

Jumpjet will open by offering memberships in 43 markets (see below), though customers in those markets will be able to reserve flights to just about any mainland U.S. airport that can accommodate private jet flights.

Initially , Ashcroft says the Seattle and Portland, Ore., markets will be excluded as options on flights from the East Coast as Jumpjet manages out its start-up process, though he pledged that those markets will come online "soon."

Ashcroft is convinced there will be demand for Jumpjet's product, predicting the company will be profitable "within six months."

"It's very possible that will happen earlier, but I like to be very cautious" with that projection, Ashcroft says, acknowledging that "there always are bumps in the road for start-up companies."

But, for now, Ashroft is squarely focused on the launch effort.

"It's taken six years to build Jumpjet," Ashcroft says, noting the effort to get the technology and foundation just right for the company. "Jumpjet didn't just appear."


Markets in which Jumpjet will be selling memberships as of its launch:

Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson

California: Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs,Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Santa Barbara

Colorado: Aspen, Denver, Vail

Connecticut: Greenwich

District of Columbia: Washington (includes parts of Maryland and Virginia)

Florida: Aventura/ Bal Harbour, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Naple, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, West Palm Beach

Georgia: Atlanta

Idaho: Sun Valley

Illinois: Chicago

Maryland: Baltimore

Massachusetts: Boston

Michigan: Detroit

Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul

New Jersey: Trenton/Mercer

New Mexico: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

New York: Hamptons, New York

North Carolina: Raleigh

Ohio: Cleveland-Akron

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City

Oregon: Portland

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia

Tennessee: Nashville

Texas: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth

Washington: Seattle