JetSuite X: The semi-private jet for the masses will spoil you silly
By Kathy Chin Leong
This morning, January 2, Amy and Karen are our flight attendants. Captain Cort (not Kirk) and his copilot Tony are at the helm. And we are taking off from a private airstrip in San Jose.
“Welcome and good morning, Nick and Kathy,” greets Amy over the loud speaker. We all chuckle. My co-passenger Nick and I are the only ones on this 30 seater airplane -the Embraer 135 a twin engine private jet. I am safely buckled into my leather seat (yes, leather) in Row 2, and Nick sits way back towards the rear of the cabin. It’s a pretty clear day in San Jose, and minutes after takeoff, we see the mountains and lakes that constitute the Bay Area. Today, I am going to Burbank to meet up with one of my best galpals, Jamie.
Even before getting on board, the experience is vastly different than flying on a commercial flight, and I feel a guilty sense of pleasure I didn’t have to go to that “other” airport where I would have had to get up at 5 a.m. and get to the gate by 6:30 a.m. for an 8:30 a.m. flight. Instead of arriving two hours ahead, Frank takes me 30 minutes ahead at 8 a.m. He can park in the lot for free and help me with my suitcase and walk me in. The car is only steps away from the gate. At this hour, no other passenger is here, but two attendants are standing by the glass door, and one of them leisurely issues me a boarding pass.
We sit down in the lounge, and Frank waits with me, and we get free coffee. And water bottles. There is also a basket of snacks including pretzels popcorn and chips. What a treat. A flat screen TV is on in our comfortable waiting area, and we hear the weather report learning there is a cold snap on the East Coast. We feel cozy though in this waiting area with couches and coffee tables that give off a living room effect. Sipping our coffees, we stand, looking out the glass door at my airplane just steps away.
I check in my small roll-on luggage, and the attendant swipes it for-drugs, and she places it on a cart that gets rolled into the plane. Easy peasy. No lining up for the security line. No taking off shoes, no pulling out my laptop. No walking through an x-ray machine. When it comes time to board, Frank can walk me out on the tarmac and snap a photo without getting tackled to the ground by police officers and making the evening news.
Once we fly, we can choose any seat we want since there are only two of us- me and said passenger, Nick. The flight is extremely comfortable with no turbulence the first few minutes. The last 15 minutes will be a bit trembly but nothing worth getting sweaty palms over. Karen sits down in the seat in front of me after giving the official safety talk. I feel obligated to pay attention since there are only two of us on board. She flies only private jets and works for many private owners, she tells me.
There is no in-flight magazine for me to do my crossword puzzle but there is a card detailing a list of liquors, wines, beers and non-alcoholic beverages I can order. But hey it is too early in the morning to order a Cutty Sark scotch or Tito’s vodka. I settle for a cranberry juice. Instead of pushing a food cart down the aisle, Amy is holding a basket of treats including dried coconut, power bars, and chips. I cannot decide so she says, “Take one of each!” My jews drop. Really? I can take one of each? And these are real bags of snacks that last more than two bites!
I am still overcome at how easy all of this is. It has been a long time since I enjoyed the flying experience. Until now, few could afford a private flight, but this is a semi private flight with all the first class perks private jet owners must boast about. You fly for about $129-$350 each way. Sometimes there are specials for $89 for a one-way fare. For now, the destinations from San Jose include Burbank, Oakland, Las Vegas, Mammoth, and Concord. And if you recommend others, and they book, you get $20 off your next flight.
It’s fast, convenient, and way too easy. No, there is no gimmick, no time-share condo pitch, no magic tricks. The fare and procedure is straight forward. I could get used to this. We land just within 75 minutes. While my peers at Southwest Airlines are squished in their seats and later lining up with the 100 others to disembark, Nick and I pirouette out of the leather seated cabin with no wait time. It’s been swell, folks! I'll be back. Definitely.