How Top Business Executives Travel in Luxury Without Needing Their Own Private Jet

A Flexjet Gulfstream G650 at Farnborough Airport (Flexjet)

What do you do if you’re a crazy, busy tech mogul or A-list celebrity who wants to travel quickly and in luxury, but without all the hassles and costs of owning a private jet?

This is the solution offered by subscription private aviation company Flexjet: the possibility of using a private jet, without having to buy it or maintain a crew.

His tone is simple. We’ll get you where you need to be and we’ll do it in style. They asked me to try it and it seemed rude to say no.

The appeal is immediately obvious from the moment I join the crew on a quick trip across the Atlantic from London to New York.

A driver picks me up at home one weekday morning to take me to a private airport on the outskirts of London. We walked straight onto the tarmac at Farnborough Airport, moving forward as if we were taking a trip down the same road.

There are no queues; You don’t have to wait long to scan your bags. Instead, guests put on slippers and relax aboard a custom Gulfstream G650. The plane looks like something out of an episode of Succession and has a maximum range of 11,500 km and speeds of Mach 0.9.

It is this speed and convenience that attracts customers, Marine Eugène, European general director of Flexjet, explains to me on board.

The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.

The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.

The company’s customers have two things in common: they have the need to get somewhere quickly and also the means to pay for it.

“When you join a program like ours, they want something that makes things simpler,” he says. “So when they think about buying another company, buying another house, everything is very complex.

“Whereas if they come to us, what we guarantee is that if they need to go to an airport, anytime, anywhere, whether it’s London, New York or Paris, we will come pick them up. In reality, it is a way to make their lives easier.”

In addition to speed, those lucky enough to travel by private jet have the flexibility to do it however they want. A full team of staff anticipates their guests’ every need while they work or relax: a hot towel when they need to cool off, a coffee or meal, a selection of wines, champagne and cheeses.

I found that this extends to pleasing your inner child. I am invited to sit in the cockpit as we take off from Farnborough for a flight of approximately seven hours. We rise into the clouds as the chatter of air traffic codewords rings in my ears.

Of course, not all normal flight rules are out the window: I am politely asked not to talk, in case I accidentally cause an emergency with idle chatter, and that definitely Don’t press anything.

Once in the air, the tables are set quickly. The food (smoked salmon eggs Benedict for breakfast and steak salad for lunch) is delicious and reveals no trace of having been cooked thousands of feet in the air. Offered with an invigorating Bloody Mary to stave off jet lag. I suspect it would also stop any cold coming.

The surroundings are also the height of luxury. The decoration is inspired by an exclusive Bentley Mulliner Bacalar sports car, which reaches a price of up to £1.5 million. Every detail has been customized, right down to the stitching of the seat cushions.

The same crew can travel on every flight a customer takes, meaning they know regular customers personally, right down to their food and drink orders. The experience is so pleasant that it makes a long-haul flight seem, if anything, too short.

Landing across the Hudson at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, there’s time for a coffee before we’re whisked away to a waiting helicopter for the full Logan Roy experience. The airline has recently launched its ‘point-to-point’ service in Europe.

Fresh off the plane, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter will take you to a helipad in the center of the city, avoiding ground traffic. It is now offered in London, at a landing site in Battersea, as well as in the northeastern United States and south Florida. For the time-poor corporate executive, this reduces the time spent sitting in traffic while rushing to meetings.

However, we took a quieter route. As a surprise, we made a wide circuit around Manhattan, passing by the Statue of Liberty and the One World Trade Center. It’s stunning: an aerial view of Central Park before ground cars take us from Hudson Yards to the Aman New York on Fifth Avenue, frequently named the most expensive hotel in the city.

The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.

The interior of the Flexjet Gulfstream G650 is inspired by Bentley (Flexjet) interiors.

It’s a taste of luxury that few get to experience and it’s extremely stress-free, as long as you’re not afraid of heights. “It’s very addictive as a way to travel, it’s very powerful,” says Marine. But it has a high price.

The service is marketed to ultra-high net worth individuals and corporate entities that fly more than 50 hours a year. This, in practice, means measuring your wealth in millions.

However, for those with money to spare, the convenience is worth it. Private air travel surged after Covid, when those traveling commercially faced long waits at airports. Others opted for it instead of commercial offerings for health reasons.

Demand growth in Europe is “starting to stabilize” but is still above pre-pandemic levels. Flexjet is among companies that say it doesn’t yet know how many of those turning to private air travel will stay long-term, but says it is “optimistic” about the market.

In the context of a climate emergency, you could be forgiven for wondering whether private travel is necessary. Shouldn’t we all try to take fewer flights, I ask?

The company says it already offsets emissions from each flight by 300% to take into account carbon and non-carbon emissions, and that private aviation accounts for 2% of all aviation emissions, which in turn are the 2% of all global emissions.

But it is moving toward sustainable aviation fuel, a cleaner type of biofuel that the industry hopes can be used in place of conventional fuel.

“The climate impact of air travel is another driver of change and at Flexjet we will continue to evolve our sustainability offering in the coming years,” says Marine. “Flexjet has committed that 12% of its fleet’s annual fuel consumption will come from SAF by 2030, the first and only private aviation company to set a tangible target that exceeds the aviation industry’s broader targets.” .

Flexjet had planned to merge with Chelsea FC owner and chairman Todd Boehly’s Horizon Acquisition Corp II and become a publicly traded company. Last year, the long-awaited deal estimated at $3 billion was canceled, with President Kenn Ricci saying he believed the move was “in the best interest of our aircraft owners, employees and other stakeholders.”

However, this is not expected to slow growth. By the end of 2023, Flexjet added more than 80 aircraft compared to the beginning of 2021 to meet demand. An additional 1,400 employees were hired throughout the year, including 388 additional flight crews.

Customers who opt for the service will undoubtedly experience the easiest and most likely most luxurious trip of their lives. But for those of us who unfortunately don’t have money to spare, we need to get back to the economy. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

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