An Overland Park tech firm is bringing charter flights to the masses with its crowdsourcing platform that reduces the costs to fly in swanky private jets.
Founded in 2015, Member Jets created a private aviation community that connects travelers to discounted private flights by aggregating available seats and travel opportunities. Now used at Kansas City’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport and the Johnson County Executive Airport, Member Jets is accepting members for its club, which targets businesses and entrepreneurs that highly value their time.
“We’re trying to create a trading environment for aviation,” Member Jets CEO Ty Carter said. “We bring the price point down so you’re not buying an entire airplane — you buy a seat like you would on a commercial airline. But instead of a commercial flight, you’re on a private jet without all the hassles.”
To use the service, a would-be traveler buys a Member Jets membership and creates a profile, indicating preferences and frequent domestic destinations. For safety, the user also must go through a background check and be in good standing with the TSA.
A member can then search, request, select, book and, if desired, share the aircraft with other members, driving down costs. The platform also can notify users of travel opportunities to a desired locale.
A pilot for more than 25 years, Carter said that Member Jets not only reduces private flight costs but also drastically cuts down on travel time when compared to a commercial flight. In addition to skipping security and check-in lines and the option to park on a nearby tarmac, private flights are direct to the desired location.
For example, Carter said that Member Jets can cut off about five hours of travel time on a round trip flight to Denver, six hours to New York City and eight hours to Los Angeles.
And in a world where time is money, Carter said the efficiencies are significant to a business’s bottom line.
“For an entrepreneur whose time is extremely valuable — every minute is important,” Carter said. “Standing in line at airports and the commercial hassles are not efficient. … I’ve seen the advantages of what private air allows you to do — it’s like a time capsule. Your productivity is much higher.”
While still more expensive when compared to commercial flights, Carter said Member Jets’ flights are cheaper than chartering an entire plane. For example, a private one-way flight to Austin, Texas costs about $800 for a 1-hour-and-40-minute flight.
The company is currently only operating out of the Kansas City area but is looking to expand to Denver and Atlanta. Some of its common destinations include St. Louis, Omaha, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Austin, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Wichita, New York City, Denver and other.