Here’s how I flew on a private jet for $159, and you can too.
Recently my family relocated from NYC to Las Vegas, so I go to Los Angeles, a lot, as I recently started seeing a top doctor there for IVF treatments. The stress of hormones and disappointing results is a lot to handle — but the travel? That’s a whole other load of unnecessary added stress from both the financial and physical angles.
I’ve tried driving. The four+ hour commute isn’t that bad, until you unexpectedly get a uterine biopsy or some other uncomfortable procedure, and then you have to drive home that night. And yes, I’ve done that before and it was the worst, so my husband and me decided flying would be best. Southwest has a shuttle plane that departs almost every hour from Las Vegas to Burbank, but even just the security line hassle gets to be a lot if you’re commuting regularly, have a medical issue, are generally worn out (who isn’t?), or even just hate the idea of rubbing your feet against dirty airport floors. Southwest also doesn’t assign seats, so you have to hope, pray, and wish that you’ll make it to something that’s not a middle seat and that your seat mates will be relatively normal. If all goes well and you’re not met with delays, the entire flight takes about 50 minutes, and then you patiently collect your bags, wait for a cab or Uber, and realize that you typically dish out around $500 for these low-class, no-amenities round trip flights.
The experience adds up financially, emotionally, and physically if you’re making a frequent commute for IVF treatments and I was starting to tire of the whole thing until my neighbor told me about JetSuiteX, a sort of spin off of the private air service concept, JetSuite (and no, this isn’t sponsored, and no, I didn’t get a free flight — these are just my genuine feelings and experiences). He told me that for the same price as a regular airline ticket you can fly direct and private to LA, and that obviously appealed to me on all the deepest levels of my can-I-sit-alone-please soul. A bit of context here: our neighbor/friend had a Disney movie made about him, a feature length movie in fact, about his amazing life. I’m not going to flat out call him wealthy and maybe a bit jaded about the real-world cost of things- but I might secretly think that sometimes. He flies private all around the world regularly. My husband and me usually take what he says with a grain of salt (normal table salt, not the kind that’s sourced by monks from secret Himalayan caverns).
After a little looking online (and no, I didn’t need to chat endlessly with dumb jet brokers or wait for $40,000 quotes), I easily found a $159 return flight from Burbank to Las Vegas. A flight at nearly the same time on Southwest was going for $230 one way, and I’d almost definitely be packed in with other passengers like a sardine. Thanks, but no thanks. I was still cautious, though. Was I going to be on some 1950s Russian prop plane? Would this thing actually have seats or would it be the kind of experience I’d talk about for the next several decades as my near brush with death?
I got to the private hangar at Burbank airport about an hour before the departure time (they recommend showing up 30 minutes before departure, but I didn’t believe them- how could it be that convenient?!). There were about five to six people there, four of them being helpful JetSuite employees. I was carrying four large bags of toys for my daughter (don’t ask- they were on sale), and the lady who checked me in carefully packed them in a box they had on hand and loaded it onto the plane for me. Um, sorry, but people being super helpful and friendly with me in an airport setting is a new thing. The check-in process consisted of showing my ID (of course there were no lines) and having my purse and toy bags swabbed for security purposes. I did not take off my shoes or my clothes. I did not get patted down. There were no rude TSA agents. I was greeted with a smile and polite conversation instead of the familiar and usual grimace with that hopeless sigh you find with “normal” frustrated airline employees. They offered me free snacks, cold and hot drinks, bottled water and get this — wifi. The lounge was comfortable and clean. The other passengers there were all in on this little luxurious secret: we were flying private, something usually reserved for the rich and famous (and their friends).
Then I saw the Jet. To my surprise, it wasn’t a soviet era scrap heap. It was a brand new, beautiful jet (JetSuite X uses only Phenom 100s and CJ3 jets, apparently). No propellers, the scent of death, or anything! I boarded the plane with about four other passengers and found a comfy large first class-like seat. The friendly stewardess offered me more free snacks and drinks, and informed me that there was free wifi on the plane as well- during the flight. I watched one of the many free movies they offer on iPad, Crocodile Dundee, an 80s comedy classic. That’s how good my mood was.
It wasn’t a dream — I ended up treated like a human, feeling like a human, and had a thoroughly comfortable and affordable experience. I took pictures because I was anxious to show the rest of the frequent flier world that there’s apparently more to life (who knew?), and that we don’t have to be shuttled like cattle from destination to destination. I arrived on time to Las Vegas refreshed and happy, and I dread the idea of flying commercial ever again.
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