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Air Charter Brokers and What You Should Know Before Using One

In our last private jet charter article we discussed the questions that should be asked of an air charter company when determining whether to utilize their services. In this article we’ll share some of the ins and outs of dealing with air charter brokers and jet card providers.

An experienced and knowledgeable broker can be a valuable resource in helping you find a charter flight when 1) you have no established business relationship with a charter operator, 2) you fly predominately one-way flights, or 3) you have a need for aircraft that are not in the fleet of your local charter operator.  Desert Jet works with many reputable brokers that provide a beneficial and honest service to their clients, but unfortunately not all brokers are reputable.

The charter broker industry is unique in that the barriers to entry are very low. There is no government regulation of charter brokers, no licensing required to become a charter broker, and no legal restriction on someone with a criminal past becoming a charter or jet card broker. All that is really required to become a charter broker is a website, a phone number and a fax machine. Because of the lack of government oversight of charter brokers, the consumer must be careful choosing a broker.

Recent high-profile accidents, including the Ebersol crash in Aspen and the Challenger crash in Teterboro, were arranged by charter brokers (see Bloomberg article).  Unfortunately these brokers did not properly vet these flights for their unsuspecting clients.

Choosing a charter broker that is also an aircraft operator is the safest choice of all. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates charter operators  and has certain economic authority conditions in place for a charter operator to offer flights to the public.  You can be assured that the operator has been screened by the DOT and has oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration.

You should consider the following points when choosing a charter broker;

1) Request an agreement between you and your broker stating that the broker is acting on your behalf to secure your charter flight(s).

2) Any agreement to purchase a block of hours or a “jet card” should include the stipulation that prepaid funds be deposited into an escrow account for the benefit of both parties, with a cancellation policy that allows you a 100% refund of funds deposited at any time.  Many clients have been burned by jet card companies not forwarding the deposited funds to the charter operator (see Aviation International News article).  In this particular case, the charter company claims the broker collected the funds from the passengers but did not forward them to the charter operator for flights flown.  The charter company included the passengers in their lawsuit.

3) Request to view standards used by the broker to secure reliable air charter companies and disqualify others.

4) Ensure your broker does not have a criminal record or a history of fraudulent activity.  Several well-known charter brokerage firms have founders and employees with felony convictions that have served prison sentences for crimes such as theft, embezzlement and sexual offenses against children as young as 8 years old. The best way to protect yourself is to use a U.S. Government Department of Transportation regulated and licensed aircraft charter operator.  The employees of charter operators must pass stringent security, drug and alcohol testing as well as have no criminal records, as opposed to charter brokers which have no regulation or oversight of any kind.

5) Choose a broker that is a member of the Air Charter Association of North America (ACANA,).  This organization represents professional air charter brokers and operators,requiring its members to uphold certain ethical practices and standards.  All ACANA members have passed a stringent review and approval process prior to being granted membership.  You will be well represented if you choose an ACANA broker or operator.

Taking a few precautions will help improve the chances of finding an ethical broker who can assist you in arranging your aircraft charter flights.  Desert Jet has joined with ACANA to help shape the regulatory environment of FAA and DOT regulations to continually improve the charter marketplace for the benefit of all air charter consumers.

Book Your Next Air Charter Flight

Contact Desert Jet now to book you next air charter flight at (800) 381-JETS, (760) 399-1000 or email us at charter@desertjet.com.

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