A First Time For Everything
Flying on a private jet bears very little resemblance to flying commercial. That’s precisely what everyone really likes about private travel. Very often you drive right up to your aircraft, step inside, they close the door behind you and you leave. You eat exactly what you want, when you want it and everyone is genuinely glad to see you. You fly largely undisturbed, yet someone is always at your beck and call. You come and go on your schedule, not someone else’s. Yes, this epitomizes travel as it is meant to be.
Since private jet travel is (thankfully) quite different from commercial air travel, sometimes a few awkward situations may arise for new aircraft owners or, more frequently, those stepping up to the inner circle of a corporation that flies on “the jet.” Consider the following issues before travel on your private jet to make those first trips a little smoother and more comfortable for everyone on board:
- Before You Leave Home
Always pack your passport. Make sure it has not expired, or will not expire within six months. If you are going to a country that requires a visa, be sure to have the correct visa packed. Even if you don’t anticipate traveling out of the country, pack your passport as plans may change very quickly when traveling. No passport could prevent your entire group from entering a country. When you are on a private jet a lack of proper documents can cause fines, jail, or even deportation. Also please note that passports shouldn’t be stamped in every country you visit, as some countries will not allow you to enter if it shows you visited certain other countries. For example, some Middle Eastern countries will bar your entry if you have an Israeli stamp.
- Pet Peeves
While we are discussing documentation, it is important to remember that when you are planning a trip with a pet to a foreign country (or even Hawaii) there are entry requirements that must be followed. These requirements are spelled out for each country, usually under their agriculture regulations, and your vet often has this information and correct documents as well. Some countries simply don’t allow pets to deplane from a private jet unless the jet has a special agreement with the country (Scotland comes to mind) so be aware of those rules. Be aware that if a country does not allow your pet to deplane, his or her paws may not touch the tarmac even for a relief break. Penalties may include fines, quarantine or even death. Many of the immunization requirements have a six month lead time, so planning is key. Failure to have correct documentation can turn an entire aircraft around, so be sure to get it right before you leave.
- Assigned Seating
If you are traveling on a business trip and this is your first time with the group, an unspoken hierarchy often exists with seating choices. If you can’t get with a trusted colleague and find out where you should sit (reads: where the principal likes to sit) then just hang back and board last. Just like a conference room, everyone has his or her favorite spot, and you don’t want to be in your boss’s seat for the next four hours.
- Stow Your Luggage
Yes, of course. I would be happy to, but where? There are no overhead bins and no “seat in front of you,” so think about what you need with you in the cabin for the flight. Pack one small carry-on with essentials and work for the flight and allow the rest to go to the back in baggage. You can tuck that bag behind your seat to keep it out of the way. Keep in mind there won’t be any baggage claim issues or delays. There are also pillows, blankets, snacks, and very nice amenities on board to keep you comfortable so there’s very little you need to bring with you, unlike a commercial flight.
5. In-Flight Dining
The sky is truly the limit when it comes dining options on a private jet. You can order food from your favorite restaurant in every city you visit. You can have world famous caterers and chefs provide exquisite entrees. You might hire an onboard chef. It seems most clients want great food at a great value. In that case, don’t overlook the corporate Flight Attendant. A truly professional and properly trained Flight Attendant will have expert culinary skills. Why is this important? If you order food from your favorite restaurant in Chicago and they deliver it to the jet in containers and you set it out for your clients in bowls, you have wasted a good bit of your investment with the lack of presentation. A properly trained Flight Attendant can re-create the presentation you would see in that restaurant. You can also save considerable money by having a Flight Attendant trained with culinary skills shop a gourmet market for ingredients and then prepare them fresh on the aircraft. The taste will be superb and the cost will be a fraction of what you would spend to have the flight catered. Of course, when you have a quick turn or travel where shopping and restaurants won’t work, then knowing the best caterers is a must. Once again, a well-connected Flight Attendant knows the best of the best in each city so you don’t have to.
- There Are Some Limits
It is easy to get the feeling that you can call the shots on just about anything after you have been flying on your private jet for a while. There are still some things that just can’t happen:
- Travel to a destination forbidden by regulation
- Multiple schedule changes can cause denial of permits for a given region you are traveling in
- Requests for items unavailable in remote locations (e.g. certain foods, glass bottled v. plastic bottled water)
- Bringing items into a country that are prohibited such as weapons, fish caught on a boat, animals or alcoholic beverages
- Scheduling a departure before the crew has had minimum crew rest
- Bringing more guests on the aircraft than it is allowed to carry in its charter certificate
- Bringing last minute guests who have not had documentation submitted for approval within time limits.
Welcome to the world of private jet travel. It really is so civilized and makes so much sense. If you already know all of these little details, please do a colleague a favor and forward this article if you will. Then, just sit back, relax and truly enjoy your next flight. This is air travel as it was meant to be.