Last week I was offered the unprecedented opportunity to hitch a ride on a friend’s private jet heading to Seattle. My response was “hell yeah, count me in!” It was quite luxurious, but I’m afraid it sort of ruined me for regular commercial air travel.
Mr. Hubman dropped me off at the friend’s house to ride with him and his girlfriend to the local private airport. Holy Cow, this guy in full driver gear including a chauffer’s hat shows up in a limo, loads our bags in the car, held our hand while we entered the vehicle and delivers us to the tarmac right at the foot of the stairs to the plane.
Then another bevy of men surrounded us, helped us out of the car and escorted us onto the plane. Some of them took our baggage out of the car and loaded it directly into the cargo hold of the plane. We didn’t have to lift a finger. The jet was an eight seater which consisted of 8 leather captain’s chairs, which swiveled so we could sit around and face each other like we were in a living room just hanging out.
We did not have to haul our luggage into the airport, stand in line for an hour to check bags, stand in line for another hour just to get violated by overzealous TSA scrutiny or any of the other facts of life when flying via commercial transportation. From the time we entered the airport until the time we were in the air was a grand total of 15 minutes.
As I sat there sipping wine and enjoying cheese, crackers and fruit, I thought “I could get used to this. What a life.” This is probably not going to be a regular part of my life, but I sure enjoyed every minute of it while we were traveling.
When we took off it wasn’t like a commercial plane where the plane lumbers, rattles and lurches its way up into the air and takes 30 minutes to get to a cruising altitude. This jet took off and went straight up. It was a good thing we were wearing a 3 point harness instead of the usual pitiful excuse for a seat-belt. In about 5 minutes we were up at a cruising altitude of somewhere above 40,000 feet, which is well above commercial air traffic.
Being up that high there is pretty much no turbulence at all. The little monitor that the copilot set up for us indicated that we were traveling at almost 600 mph, which equates to .88 of Mach speed. It was an interesting tidbit of knowledge to know that we were almost at the sound barrier. I was tempted to yell “faster, faster!”
The trip to Seattle took less than 3 hours as opposed to the 8 hours it took me to get home yesterday via Southwest Airlines, with a plane delay and a layover in Albuquerque, New Mexico – an airport which apparently rolls up the sidewalks at 8:00 pm. There was nothing open except a tiny bar where they were announcing last call. I grabbed a quickie gin and tonic before the final leg of the trip.
So I’m spoiled now to commercial flying, but so what? I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to do something that may be a once in a life time event just because it may never happen to me again. That would just be downright silly.