SUITCASE Road Tests: JetSmarter, the “Uber of Private Jets”

SUITCASE Road Tests: JetSmarter, the “Uber of Private Jets”

jets. A mode of transport reserved for the
bottle-popping super rich, royalty and superstars. The definition
of a golden ticket and a physical embodiment of sky-high wealth,
allowing cashed customers to sit in the lap of Lady Luxury herself.
Something so gloriously louche that most of us wouldn’t bother even
thinking about, right?

Sort of.

As a travel journalist, I’m lucky enough to do some pretty cool
stuff. And when an email pinged into my inbox inviting me to trial
JetSmarter, an app described as “the Uber of private jets”, it
quickly shot to the top of my #workperks list. That’s how I found
myself wandering around lovely old Luton on a Friday morning, best
pal in tow, trying to locate my “PJ” to

My error was to assume that the there was some sort of special
private jet queue alongside the other budget airlines – a
red-velvet rope separating them, perhaps? As staff tried to chivvy
us into the Ryanair line, I tried to explain discreetly that we
were flying private daahling, but was quickly thwarted as a marshal
shouted back “What?! A PRIVATE jet? Here?! Hah!” leaving us to the
disbelieving guffaws of the group of absolute #LADZ who had
overheard as they queued for the Malaga banter bus (see, I’ve
become a snob already – but as the queen of budget airlines with a
penchant for the Ryanair panini, I’m allowed to say that).

I should’ve read my ticket properly because it turns out the
Signature Terminal from which the jets depart is totally separate
(of course it is) and we kicked ourselves for not arriving sooner
to take advantage of the well-stocked lounge – breakfast was
alternating sips of coffee and champagne, condescendingly watched
by some Gameboy-playing tweenagers who looked bored shitless at the
prospect of flying private yet again.

I know what you’re thinking. Those brats (sorry, boys) had rich
parents and I got to play at being princess because of my job. What
about the rest of us? Well, JetSmarter is making private air travel
that bit more accessible. They have three types of service: private
charters, shared charters and the game-changing JetShuttle, in
which customers can log into an app and book seats on scheduled
routes with other members in a matter of minutes.

A basic annual membership costs $5000 (about £3860) and gets you
unlimited free flights to European destinations including Geneva,
Paris and
(aimed at those on business) and Malaga for the sun-seeking party
crowd. In the US, where the company is more established, it’s free
flights on all trips under three hours. Maths isn’t my strong
point, but if you’re a frequent flyer that suddenly doesn’t seem
totally outrageous. Upgrade your membership ($15,000) and your
options extend to transatlantic travel; if the red-eye is your
weekly mistress, it actually becomes a money-saving move.

It also goes without saying that the whole PJ experience is
pretty damn sweet. A recent study “revealed” that, contrary to the
old adage, money can actually buy you happiness. Getting a cleaner
or cook frees up your time, which in turn translates to higher life
satisfaction. Pretty obvious conclusion, I thought – and certainly
applicable to going private. You arrive half an hour before your
flight. You don’t have to check in or go through security. In fact,
you don’t queue at all. There’s no faffing around trying to cram a
week’s worth of liquids, potions and lotions into a sandwich bag.
Instead of carrying your suitcase you’re stockpiling snacks (only
to be told there are plenty more on board). You’re escorted to the
plane by a uniformed warden. Seats are squishy and spacious. You’re
not subjected to your umpteenth safety demonstration. Cheese boards
and crustless finger sandwiches abound (though I’m not convinced
they beat that panini). There’s more champagne. You can ask the
captain to show you how the controls work, if that’s your kind of
thing. On touchdown, you step from plane into air-conditioned Merc.
A nice man takes your passport and returns it stamped and ready to

We relished this assistance on the way out, and even more so on
our return when we’d left half our brains behind the DJ booth at Hï
(anyone who’s joined the motley crew in Ibiza airport Burger King
will appreciate our near tearful levels of gratitude). Not to
mention, the whole thing is absolute
Instagram gold

A large part of this not-totally-private experience is also the
people you meet onboard. Part of JetSmarter’s aim is to create a
members’ club which allows customers to network, do business deals
(and perhaps even speed date?) at 35,000 feet. Sound elitist?
Perhaps. But once you’ve got over the “ohmygawd you’re rich” bit
(which, if my maths holds up, does not have to mean super rich) the
other passengers are one of the best bits about it. Jets range in
size and ours was filled by me and my pal; a hilarious couple in
their forties from Laguna Beach who’d left the kids at home for a
smash-and-grab party weekend, and a well-groomed 32-year-old man
from New
, who’d jumped in last minute, hadn’t booked anywhere to
stay and was spending the summer hopping on and off jets around
Europe (he was last spotted floating around a
off the coast of Montenegro
). They were successful, interesting
and surprisingly unassuming.

In the words of Drake, we were there “for a good time, not a
long time” and we ended up balling around “beefa” together for much
of the weekend, making enthusiastic plans to “jump on a jet” for a
reunion soon. Unfortunately, I’ll be back in bed with Ryan by then.
But if I manage to replace my Pret lunches with packed and up my
freelancing ante a bit (quite a lot), I’ll certainly be jetting

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