Costco Wholesale is now offering annual memberships to private flight membership program Wheels Up on Costco.com. Offered at $17,500.00 for an annual individual membership, the purchaser is awarded a bonus $3,500 Costco Cash Card E-Voucher.
Membership regular price for individuals is $17,500 annually and corporations $29,500 annually according to Corporate Jet Investor. Annual dues (starting second year) are then $8,500 for individuals and $14,500 for corporations, plus a fixed hourly price for each hour flown – the cost per hour of getting on the King Air is $4,295 per hour and the Citation Excel/XLS is $7,295 per hour according to a report from the private aviation industry resource.
By comparison charter rates for the King Air 350 average around $2,000 per hour in the US including fees and surcharges, and charter rates for the Citation Excel/XLS average $3,850 per hour, according to Rick Colson, president of New Flight Charters, a nationwide leader with a best price guarantee on every flight. The Wheels Up program may be advantageous for those who (1) are frequent users – more than 150 hours per year to bring the total costs per hour down, and who (2) typically fly one-way flights or round trips over many days, according to Colson. “A membership fee does not mean better hourly rates or reliability that the market. Look at your historical or expected usage and compare costs,” he says.
Of note on a comparison basis, the King Air 350i requires 18% more flight time than light jets for the same trip, therefore flight costs increase 18% to $5,068 on trip cost comparison basis to light jets.
The Wheels Up fleet includes King Air 350i turboprops and Citation Excel/XLS midsize jets. Costco offers the Wheels Up memberships in their section for Holiday, Gifts & Tickets > Hotels & Tourist Attractions.
– First published in 2015, last updated 10/9/17 to reflect Wheels Up price adjustments –
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