Reply To: When Turning Right is Good: The NetJets Experience

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VintageKrug
Participant

I was fortunate to fly on NetJets recently to attend a meeting in Europe, and thought a first hand trip report might be of interest to the Board.

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Last minute need for a Meeting in Europe, and needed to get there fast.

Private Jet was suggested, and I was not about to disagree.

I was asked to email my full name, passport number, passport expiry date and date of birth; so it was useful having this information immediately available in my Yahoo database, rather than having to wait until I got home to check send over the details.

General Aviation slots at LGW are precisely timed and operate on a strict “use it or lose it” basis, so to avoid traffic the Gatwick Express was my preferred choice for getting to the airport on time.

Arriving at LGW, I walked up the escalators, into the South Terminal. Turning right, across the Arrivals barrier where the masses where emerging from their holidays with their salmon-pink tans, and into a small corridor marked “General Aviation”.

Another grotty lift and I was down into a tunnel, and walked the 200yds to the tiny “Sussex Suite” (basically two small Portakabins) for a very non-luxurious security scan, though with very friendly staff.

Passports were examined at this stage.

One of the perks of Private Jet travel is no liquids restrictions, which is quite obviously a gaping hole in the whole counterterrorism plan.

The four of us met up and jumped aboard a rather tired people carrier for the hop to the stand, which was located out on a stand out where the wingless white Comet used to sit.

The chap driving was quite merry, joking that he normally only bothered with smarter jets than the one we were going on (!) and mentioned that Tony Blair was leaving that afternoon on a very smart Kuwait Gulfstream V, parked next to us. Here is a pic of that jet:

http://www.airport-data.com/images/aircrafts/small/239/239728.jpg

I just took my Bose headphones, Blackberry and a copy of the Economist on board as space was at a premium, with the rest of the baggage going into the capacious hold.

The aircraft was a Citation XLS, a variant of Cessna’s standard Citation XL but with upgraded engines. Looks something like this:

http://www.sybarites.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/wall_800_02.jpg

This was the exact same interior:

http://www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/cessna_sovereign/images/5-citation-xls-plus.jpg

It had four seats facing each other, with a further two behind that, a sideways facing “jump seat” opposite the door, probably for a crew member, and the loo seemed to be sittable on, but probably not legal to overload thus. Four people plus two crew was just perfect for this aircraft on this relatively long 2h 40m jaunt.

I reckoned the trip would cost about £15k, rather a lot considering there was a scheduled BA flight following a few minutes behind us, but justified on the basis that there was no hassle, zero delays, no Other People and “it really was rather a fun way to travel”!

NetJets is used for similar trips mostly around the UK and short haul Europe, though they can provide longhaul jets, and the fractional ownership plan is seen as being really cost effective. The old adage “if it flies, f*cks or floats it’s better rented by the hour” seems to hold true.

The Captain gave a briefing, with a slot at 0936, and we sat with the doors closed for a while, moving off at 0933, and airborne just three minutes later. Not bad!

The four IFE monitors have the same airshow programme in the older BA planes, we travelled at 39000 feet at 475mph for most of the journey.

On board food seems to work well; you get a standard allowance for catering of about £150 each included in the price; it is up to you what you order off the standard menu (and that covers most everything) but you can “go large” e.g. by ordering a vat of caviar or having one of the branded restaurants deliver a preferred menu, though of course it will only arrive as hot as the insulated box can keep it as there are no ovens on this smaller jet.

We had a delicious spread, starting with a cheese plate (was rather famished!) and then onto lobster, with crab and avocado salad which really hit the spot:

Proper metal cutlery was in evidence, with plastic/Perspex plates which were actually quite smart.

All the drinks and in flight accoutrements (e.g. corkscrew) were in small compartments behind the cockpit, and frankly there wasn’t much space, especially in the small ice compartment where the two half bottles of champagne (Ruinart) and white wine (not certain) lay chilling.

The throne room was quite small, but adequate, and although I didn’t need to go, I pottered along; basically the coat cupboard is dual purpose, and on one side of the aircraft is a coat rack the other houses the bog, which has a leather cushioned seat on top. There was a window to look out of. Bog was rather smelly. Let’s move on.

Met by a smarter people carrier than was available at LGW, and driven 700 yds to the terminal where we refunction ebBannerFlash_0_6635090145282447_DoFSCommand(command,args){ebScriptWin0_6635090145282447.gEbBanners[0].displayUnit.handleFSCommand(command,args,’ebBannerFlash_0_6635090145282447′);}function ebIsFlashExtInterfaceExist(){return true;}trieved our bags and were ushered through an empty passport channel, and straight to our waiting car. Captain walked with us, and quite a few people looking at us oddly as we were obviously receiving special treatment.

20 yds from terminal to the fleet of waiting Mercs!

What a terrific experience.

I think it’s a great idea if travelling on a route not served by commercial flights, or when you are time constrained. But of course it is the speed on the ground and certainty of departure and arrival time which is the USP of private jet travel.

Hope that gave a flavour of the trip!

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BTUK September 2017
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