Flying is generally not my favorite experience. Can you say that you love “travel” without actually enjoying the process of getting from here to there? Except trains. Trains are awesome. But flying doesn’t have to be terrible, and we were lucky enough recently to take a trip on a private Gulfstream jet with JetSmarter (thanks Johnny Jet!).
Read on to see what it was like…
Departure options are limited to major cities, so we opted to take the NY to Las Vegas flight for a short weekend in Vegas, a city we’d never visited.
That’s our car in the foreground of the photo above, 25 feet from the terminal, in a gated parking lot. We arrived early because I wanted plenty of time to take photos, but they request that you arrive 30 minutes before the flight departure time–and we could probably have gotten away with less.
Our suitcases were whisked away and checked, but there were no TSA pat downs, no porno-scanners. Just a quick visual check of the boyfriend’s backpack, and no one asked to check my purse.
Also: no tossing your reasonably-priced bottle of water in the trash so you can pay $5 for a new one once you’re past security. Your liquids are not a security threat in this magical world of leg room and free booze.
We hung out in the terminal lounge watching planes take off until it was time to leave. Passengers on other chartered flights passed through, and the parking lot gate facing the runways opened periodically to allow fliers to be ferried directly to their planes.
As the other passengers for our flight started arriving, the captain walked around and checked everyone’s ID’s. The whole experience was so weirdly pleasant.
I tend to be subjected to only the average humiliations when flying. The boyfriend, on the other hand, is nearly always “random” bag check. (He’s in the photo standing next to the helicopter if you scroll way down). I can only assume that the TSA buffoons responsible for profiling believe that large, luxurious beards pose the gravest danger to our skies.
Here, no one batted an eye.
Above is the view from the back of the plane near our group of seats at the conference table. The plane seats 12 in large, cushy leather seats and a sofa. It’s staffed by 2 pilots and 1 flight attendant.
You can turn around in the lavatory! And there’s classy gold accents. My iphone doesn’t capture a wide enough angle, but this is not the usual closet-bathroom.
If you’re wondering, that spray head next to the toilet below is labeled “bidet.” I did not try it.
Drinks, snacks and food were all included of course, and served with real glassware, plates and silverware. I got a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich with a caesar salad, and they were both great.
The menu from the return flight. The food wasn’t quite as good on this leg (but we’re food snobs). Still. Edible food on a plane! I ate plane food without the customary experience of self-loathing or gastrointestinal distress. So much for all those articles blaming your loser tastebuds for not enjoying disgusting plane food.
Those dark outlines you see on the buffet are water, newspapers, and snacks (some of which may have found their way into my bag for late night munchies at the hotel).
Dealing with Problems
A little over halfway through our flight back from Vegas, the captain walked back with an announcement. Because he’d felt the plane jerk to the right a bit on takeoff, he was concerned that one of the tires on the landing gear was low. After discussion–and out of an abundance of caution–they’d decided to divert the plane to Stewart Airport, whose larger runways would make it safer to land the plane if anything went wrong.
He took his time, addressed us by name, asked if we had any questions, and reassured us that there wasn’t anything to worry about. The plan was to have a mechanic take a look, then hop on over to Westchester airport if he didn’t find any issues.
As it turns out, our landing was perfectly smooth. However, the mechanic must not have liked what he saw, because they made the decision to transfer us to Westchester by helicopter.
Can we stop here and discuss how weird it is to be treated like you matter when flying? I know that a commercial airline can’t realistically helicopter a plane full of people to their destination, but there are a lot of things they could do to make bad situations better and show they value passengers’ comfort and time. Yet, in my experience, they mostly don’t.
The helicopter pilot rearranging luggage to fit everyone’s suitcases in the helicopter (I was the jerk with the giant suitcase).
When flying out of Westchester, a lot of people take a helicopter from Manhattan, so most suitcases were within the size limit. There was just enough room for the luggage, and we were off!
The window was so big that I felt less queasy looking through my phone camera. I think I was leaning away from the window– and into the lady next to me– the entire flight. Fear of heights aside, the sunset views were gorgeous.