If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may have noticed photos of me on a private jet. I haven’t cashed in a trust fund- but I have cashed in on a travel hack. Jetsmarter- a private jet sharing service- gives away free 3 month trials for members of the Founders Card Community. I’m doing the Jetsmarter Founders Card free trial and can share some scoop with you.
About Founders Card
Founders Card, simply put, is a high-income club where companies put their best forward in order to attract your business. Membership is quoted at $595/year, although you get a discount via referral by an existing member. They quote the discount from my end at $100 but in practice they’ll often send you an email with a promo code for more savings.
Founders Card comes with a myriad of instant hotel and airline statuses, retail discounts, and other benefits. The most notable are OneWorld Ruby and Harrah’s Diamond. Harrah’s Diamond gets you four “free” nights at Atlantis in the Bahamas, although the experience is not entirely free.
About the Jetsmarter Founders Card free trial
The first thing I should tell you is that if you’re interested- act quickly. This promotion goes away on June 30th. Although it may be extended it might not be worth the gamble. Jetsmarter had a “match your million” miles promotion a few weeks ago, but what I could have predicted would happen did- it ended early due to a deluge of applications- many of which may or may not have been photoshopped.
The promotion gives you a free Simple membership- and it is 100% free. The Simple membership allows you a single seat on any of their shuttles under 3 hours- which you can reserve one flight at a time. It also allows you two seats on their “jetdeals” which are empty leg flights released 1-2 days in advance.
So far I’ve hopped on one shuttle flight and one jetdeal and in general Jetsmarter has delivered as promised. However, it’s not quite champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
The Downsides of Jetsmarter
Let me start with the disclaimer that I know the “complaints” I have about Jetsmarter are not even first world problems- they’re 1 percent problems. That said, I want you to have a fair picture of the experience before you shell out for the founders club membership. I’m also being true to my reputation of telling it like it is, even when I get it for free.
- Jetsmarter jets are not necessarily what you think of when you think “private” jet. Both flights I’ve flows have been on Hawker 800s- an 7 seat plane. All seven seats were full on both flights. We got snacks and there was a (tiny) bathroom but I was more comfortable coming home on United First (upgraded with United Silver via Marriott Platinum ) than I was on the private jet. Some of the jets are larger- and many empty legs actually go out nearly empty. However it’s like the box of chocolates- you never know what you’re gonna get until you see a deal pop up.
- You’re only going to be able to use Jetsmarter one way in most cases. Yes, the shuttles go more frequently in both directions but it’s rare to find a shuttle to and fro in the same day. The Jetdeals will always be one way by their nature- they are repositioning flights. Both times I used miles to get home.
- Penalties are steep if you don’t show up. Like $1,000. Don’t book if you’re not 100% sure you are going to take.
- Jetdeals can be pulled at any time. Since they are empty legs if the ongoing leg gets cancelled, so does the flight. No recourse or no warning is necessary.
- If your schedule isn’t flexible, Jetdeals will not work for you. My Jetdeal flight took off at 3PM- I booked at Noon with Deal Dad agreeing to pick up the slack at home. (Shout out to Deal Dad here- although if you can hear an eye roll over the phone, I heard one when pitching the Jetdeal trip!)
The Upsides of Jetsmarter
- The process is crazy convenient. At Dulles you go to the Signature terminal, park for free, and relax right in front of the plane. No security, no lines, you don’t even have to be there until 30 min before the flight! If you’re flying commercial back you just give them a call and they’ll pick you up at the terminal to get you back to your car.
- If you’re flexible you can really have some fun. I’ve been watching Ari of AwardMagic hop around Europe with his wife and two year old and they’re clearly maximizing the benefit! I’d love to do a similar trip as Jetsmarter has shuttles and jetdeals all over Europe. You could do a round trip to London and just go where the flights take you.
- You meet some really interesting people. I’ve heard of sales reps who buy a Jetsmarter membership just to meet the people aboard- and I get it. This comes with a downside, though: on a small flight you’re pretty much forced to converse with your seatmates. I suppose you could put on earbuds and tune out but you’re going to overhear the chatter no matter what- and you might get an earful!
What have I missed? If you’re doing the Jetsmarter Founders Club free trial how has it worked for you? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments.
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