by Viki Papadakis
Disclaimer: I am by no means a frequented traveler of private planes. In fact, I have been on just a few trips in which a private jet was used, and none of these experiences lasted over two hours. While I myself am not the most experienced with private planes, I was able to interview a person who frequents this means of transportation. This person was not aware of the logistics of flying private (such as cost, how to go about booking a private airplane, what sort of private airplane to book, etc) but is well-versed in the entire experience of what it is like to fly in a private plane. Because of the variability of all private airports and airplanes, these are mere generalizations of what this individual has noticed though his experiences.
While it may appear to be glamorous and special, flying in a private plane is actually just as uninteresting (and terrifying, in my aerophobic opinion) as riding a regular plane through a commercial airline. Of course, there are quite a few perks to flying in a private plane. Not only can you be late to your flight, you are almost expected to. One should never have to use being “late for a flight” as an excuse for speeding when flying on a private jet--timing simply isn’t an issue (all in reason, of course). When asking my interviewee about whether or not he has ever been scolded or reprimanded in some way for being late for a private flight, he decided that he had never been--even when he had been almost an hour late for his flight.
Perhaps the most difficult task of flying a private jet is gaining permission to drive your vehicle through the gate straight to your airplane--if it is that type of airport. While all private airports are different, many have you say your flight number and show some form of identification before they open a gate that allows you to drive your car to your plane. In this sort of airport, you and your luggage are transferred directly from your car onto the plane. The process is quick, simple, and painless.
Other airports, which I actually prefer, have you park in front of the entryway of the “lobby”. It is somewhat like an experience at a hotel: a nicely dressed individual who looks like a bellman will come out with a large, rolling cart, in which all of your luggage will be held. Now, I have never had to deal with the logistics of flying, so my experience inside these airport “lobbies” is nothing but leisure and food. There is often a tantalizing-smelling popcorn machine, cookies, muffins, scones, coffee, hot chocolate, and water for guests to devour if they so please to.
No matter what type of airport, guests typically walk directly onto their plane. Each private airplane is very different. Oftentimes, there will be a few spacious, comfortable chairs that face one another. Because private jets are small, the chairs often do not fully recline, but definitely recline more so than on a regular flight in economy class. Sometimes, there will be a bench-type seat that is located along the side of the airplane. These are usually simply extra seats where carry-on items will be stowed, but guests are welcome to sit there if they find it more comfortable. The overall quality of the inside of private planes is much greater than regular planes. The seat cushions are leather, and the large tables that can be pulled out from the side of one’s seat are clean, polished wood.
Perhaps the strangest part of private planes are the bathrooms. The bathrooms in private planes are small, and there is often a folding wooden door that separates them from the rest of the plane. They are situated in the very back of the plane, and disguised to look like the rest of the plane--just as a private, isolated room. The toilets have large, leather cushions over them, and are designed to look like the other seats in the plane. However, once you lift the cushion up, you realize that it is attached to the lid of the toilet, and the “seat’s” true identity is discovered. Surprisingly, these bathrooms go very unused. In all of our interviewee’s experiences with private planes, he has never once used these strange bathrooms, making their quality and functionality virtually unknown to us.
Upon entering a private plane, passengers over the age of eighteen are asked to show a form of picture identification. Very brief safety precautions are described by the pilot or copilot, and passengers are told to keep their larger carry-on items by their feet during take-off. Surprisingly, I have never once noted the pilot or copilot ask for cellphones to be turned off for takeoff, or even to be turned on airplane mode for the course of the flight. Of course, I follow both these precautions, but I wonder if these usually typical procedures are failed to be mentioned because they don’t pose risks on a private plane, or because the pilot or copilot assume that the passengers on the flight know of proper electronic device procedures.
Once in the air, private planes function just the same as every regular airplane. There is sometimes turbulence, it sometimes gets to be a little too chilly, and your ears pop and ring. One slight difference is that, because the plane is so much smaller, the engine sounds much louder to someone traveling on a private jet.
Now, the most impressive aspect of flying private is by far the food. While you may be used to airplane food being soggy, drab, and overall disgusting, the food provided on a private jet is nothing short of magical. Typically, there is a drawer in which you can find a variety of chips and candies such as M&Ms, Oreos, Doritos, Lays, etc. In another drawer, you can find chilled beverages such as water, club soda, Coca Cola, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Iced Tea, etc. For all you nervous flyers, they sometimes have small alcohol bottles for you to dispose of at your own discretion. In a wicker basket, there are usually a wide assortment of crackers, and on a tray or two, one will find a delicious and varied cheese plate. Not only is the food served delicious, it is also decorated with hibiscus flowers, and made to look better than any cheese I’ve encountered on the ground. Decorated just like the cheese plate, there is a plate full of various fruits and nuts. Sometimes, yogurt or a cream dip will be provided for the fruit.
Overall, the only major advantages to flying in a private jet is having a more leisurely, relaxed travel experience and great food. While experiencing flying on a private jet is certainly more relaxing than flying through a commercial airline, it is not astoundingly better. It is simply an alternate form of travel--in which there’s a tad bit more cheese, fruit, and popcorn.
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