Costco Sells a One-Year Private Jet Membership
The price includes a $4,000 flight credit and $3,500 to spend at Costco.
If you're scrolling through the gift card section at Costco, there's a variety of options: You could grab a discounted four-pack of $25 cards for Build-A-Bear ($79.99), a 10-pack of tickets for AMC theatres ($49.97), or a one-year membership for a private jet service ($17,499).
That's right, for the same price as 2,921 jumbo-sized jars of Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise or the equivalent cost of 243 gallons of Kirkland Signature Prosecco, you can have access to Wheels Up's fleet of nearly 300 private aircraft. And because Costco is all about savings, every one-year Wheels Up Core Membership comes with a $4,000 flight credit and a $3,500 Costco Shop Card (so you can still stock-up on DIY stuffed bears and oversized bottles of sparkling wine before the trip). It also comes with a one-year subscription to Inspirato and its full portfolio of luxury hotels and rental properties.
So what else does $17,499 get you? According to the product description, all Wheels Up Core members have access to "one of the world's largest owned and managed fleets of private aircraft" including 300 planes owned by Wheels Up and more than 1,250 partner aircraft. Private flights are available for members 365 days a year, even on short notice—and through its partnership with Delta Airlines, members can earn Delta SkyMiles or quickly level up their Delta Medallion status.
But what this almost deal (which, just for the record, is about three grand more than a new Nissan Versa) doesn't include is, uh, the actual cost of the flights. According to The Points Guy, scoring an empty seat on what the company calls its "Hot Flights" could be around $320 for a one-way ticket, but the cost of a private flight on a King Air 350i could be an additional $4,695 per hour while a mid-sized jet could be up to $7,695.
Those who are still nodding enthusiastically about the prospect of having year-round access to a private plane can opt for a Pay-As-You-Fly program which means that you'd just pay the up-front price for each flight. There's also a Fund Program, which has a lower hourly rate on the 350i and "lower billable flight times" in general.
Wheels Up also promises that its top priority is the health and safety of both its members and its personnel, and has implemented additional cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitization procedures for its own fleet and for its partner aircraft. (Although it seems like Costco might've added these Wheels Up memberships as a way for its well-heeled customers to travel during the pandemic, a tweet from 2017 suggests that they've quietly been available for a while).
Regardless of whether you've got five-figures to spare—plus the cost of each flight—again, this is just the first year's membership and initiation fee. The Core membership will cost $8,500 annually from the second year on. On the other hand, you could always buy several gallons of Kirkland prosecco, watch Airplane, and call it a day.