2011 is supposed to be the year of private jet recovery.
The days of GM causing a furor over corporate jets are over, and to prove it, XOJET and HeliFlite put together a press demonstration to show how anyone can arrange helicopter or jet service — that is, anyone with a few thousand dollars to burn.
HeliFlite is a New York based helicopter service offering charters, fractional ownership and helicopter management that can pick you up from any helipad at any building in the city. If you’re using one of the public pads, the one at W 30th is the only one open 24 hours. A helicopter flight is all about convenience, but it takes a lot to keep them in the air. Two pilots, constant maintenance, fuel, it all adds up — figure around 7-grand for a one-way flight to the Hamptons or $2,000 to Teterboro airport.
XOJET is changing the face of private jet flight by offering charter flights, as opposed to fractional ownership. It costs $19,000 for a flight from NY to L.A. in a plane that holds nine passengers. There are also discounts applied based on membership and how much money you keep in your private account.
Owned by TPG, a private equity firm that specialises in distressed companies, the jet company expanded its fleet during the recession and added features like wi-fi to every plane. Management says their numbers were way up last year and they expect to do even better in 2011.
Thanks to a press boondoggle put together and paid for by XOJET, we flew from E 34th St. to Teterboro in the Bell 430, and from there up and around the city in a Challenger 300. Picture leather seats, hardwood veneers and relative quiet. No headsets, microphones or security check required.
Disclaimer: In addition to the flying time, XOJET gave us a ridiculous gift pack including an iPad, which the BI office is keeping. If all this was a bribe, it worked. We now love XOJET!
The prop wash from the rotors is intense right before you get in the cabin, with a popping sound you can feel as well as hear.
At Teterboro we taxied up next to one of Trump's remaining helicopters. The Bell 430 is on wheels so it can taxi to the jet or the airport lobby.
When you fly private it's not the airport -- it's the fixed base operator. The FBO has a concierge, car service and a baby grand piano. There's wireless, a lounge in back and a place for pilots to sleep.
The FBO has lot of nice coffee and snack selection. Hint -- do not fill up here if you're going up in a well stocked private jet.
XOJET is so picky about their pilots they hire a private investigator to follow them to their hotel before the interview to see how they treat the staff.
Control the entertainment system from the console in the arm rest. iPod dock, LCD TV, multiple CD players and noise cancelling headphones.
The Challenger 300 can do .82 Mach, for about 3,000 miles against the winds (W to E) and can clear any weather, with a flight ceiling of 45,000 feet.
There was talk of Cakebread Cabernet and Kistler Chard. on board, but I didn't see it in my thorough rummaging of the drawers
And a medley of Jelly-Bellies. You can have the plane stocked with anything you like from your favourite caterer.
A smartphone docking station right above the soap dispenser. Oh, all the dark surfaces are carbon fibre veneers
Richard Bradley, Editor In Chief of Worth sitting across from from me. He's about the same height as I am, 6' 2
A roomy super-midsize cabin -- if you're looking for something a bit more flash, reserve the Citation X. The Ferrari of private jets -- Mach .92, spitting distance to the sound barrier
Somehow, we got clearance to fly over the City and up to 15k feet -- we needed to break 10,000 because...
First class seats on American New York to L.A. are $2,649 -- if you're buying nine tickets you could spend about $14k more and go private
Back in the Bell for the ride back to the heliport and not one bit less thrilling the second time around
Some wind shear from the buildings hit us with a little turbulence on the ride back, which did not stop any of us from snapping as many pictures as we possibly could
To top it all, XOJET gave us a ridiculous gift bag containing a thermos, teddy bear and… an iPad! (see disclaimer at front of article)
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