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 membership programs pricing comparison, and a best price guarantee on each flight. The Wheels Up program can be advantageous for those who (1) are frequent users – more than 100 hours per year to bring the total costs per hour down, and who (2) typically fly one-way flights or round trips over several or more days, according to Colson. “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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