Private aviation company Wheels Up recently announced that it has launched a new membership tier, Wheels Up Connect. Company founder and CEO, Kenny Dichter, has called it a form of “social aviation”. He compares its potential in the aviation market to the influence of Uber and AirBnB in their respective industries. The membership tier joins existing Core and Business Programs.
To join Wheels Up Connect requires a one-time initiation fee and first-year membership of $2,995. Subsequent years cost $2,495. Membership benefits include access to:
The Charter Marketplace
The Charter Marketplace provides unlimited access to charter flight options on both the company’s own fleet of aircraft and their selection of vetted off-fleet planes. Members can use the App or the website to view real-time pricing options or to request a quote. Flights can then be booked instantly, and passengers can travel in comfort while avoiding the headaches of commercial airports and security lines. Two people at the same mailing address are permitted to book flights through Connect, but, as long as one registered member is traveling, they may bring along as many other people as they like (based on the size of the plane, of course). Wheels Up has over 1,000 safety vetted aircraft in the marketplace, including light, mid, super-mid and heavy private jets, and provides guaranteed recovery for flights booked through the marketplace.
Members will also receive unlimited access to shared flights, which can help to further reduce the cost of private air travel. Wheels Up Connect members cannot initiate a shared flight, but they can join existing ones set up by other Wheels Up members. Why pay for a full charter when you can share the expense with other Wheels Up members and make some new connections? There is no financial commitment for the flight until the details are all confirmed. Prices will vary based on the number of passengers on the flight, but members will pay 50% or less than the regular flight cost.
Lifestyle Benefits and Events
Connect members can enjoy a range of other benefits open to Wheels Up customers. Hot Flights are a limited number of one-way, empty-leg flights posted each day for members to take advantage of. Fees for Hot Flights can be as low as $320, inclusive of taxes and fees. Connect members can book up to four Hot Flights per year. Other perks include access to special events, such as members-only parties at the Super Bowl, the Masters, and Art Basel. Members receive one ticket to each event. The Hot Nights partnership with Inspirato offers the opportunity for luxury getaways to some of the finest vacation properties worldwide, all at a fraction of the regular price. Lastly, a complimentary FoundersCard membership provides reduced rates, upgrades, and additional amenities at hotels, restaurants, fitness clubs, and other leading brands around the country.
Connect members can become part of the new Wheels Up Community, a digital app giving members the ability to communicate with each other so that they can find and coordinate flight sharing.
Dichter says that the new membership tier may be ideal for those who often travel via first-class or business-class and who want to try private aviation. He says:
We're excited to make flying private accessible to more people through our Connect Membership. The goal is to leverage our proprietary technology to make it as easy to book a private airplane as it is to book an Uber or Airbnb.
Since Dichter launched Wheels Up in 2013, the company has rapidly grown. More than 5,000 members now have access to the members-only fleet of almost 100 aircraft as well as the wider network of more than 1,000 vetted off-fleet aircraft.