As it would be a terrible understatement to describe me as a “fan of flying,” I thought I had experienced everything I could in the world of aviation by the age of 30. I was wrong. It wasn’t until my wife’s uncle invited me along on what he described as a “chartered tour” of Africa that I experienced the luxury of exploring exotic locations via a private-to-us plane. Sure, I had seen the nooks and crannies of the mountains of Idaho in my friend’s plane, but the jet I encountered in Africa was a whole different breed of private plane, and it came with a pilot with far more credentials than the folks I know. My experience flying across Africa taught me that there are many ways to upgrade beyond first class that provide far more options than stretching your legs and drinking for free. Are you looking for an educational experience, or relaxation in a remote location? Are you bringing your friends? No matter your specs, there’s a private adventure out there for you that will let you skip the pesky lines and boarding cattle calls.
See the World
When you hear National Geographic, you’re likely to think of endless issues you tore apart as collage fodder in your elementary school art class. However, the same company that brings this classic publication to your doctor’s waiting room will take you around the world by private jet in 24 days. On their tours via Boeing jet that seats 77 passengers, you get to experience luxury resorts and so much more on five continents. The highlight of their Around the World by Private Jet tour is access to the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center in China. And if you thought that Safaris were a thing of the past, think again—National Geographic allows users to inquire about their private African Safaris online!
Smithsonian Journeys also runs an Around the World adventure, in addition to many other journeys by small plane. Their Around Australia by Private Jet tour allows you to explore the whole continent in 14 days, which I would recommend to those who have either never been to Australia or to those who are scoping it out for a longer stay. Both National Geographic and Smithsonian tours are great for solo travelers, though not necessarily if you want to be left alone—you’ll be surrounded by other “likeminded” people in the market for an exclusive experience. Both tours are also run by TCS and Starquest Expeditions which runs its own unique expeditions which are generally 2-3 weeks long. These services make it easy to book your vacation by phone or online.
Private and Design Your Own
If you don’t think that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, there are a number of other options that will allow you to go on safari or jet around Europe with just the people of your choosing. Abercrombie & Kent hosts some exceptional expeditions that are more similar to what Smithsonian and National Geographic offer, but they also offer “Tailor Made Journeys,” which allow you to work with a travel consultant on the trip of your dreams. Abercrombie & Kent provides a variety of custom tours all over the globe, but if you’re looking for a custom tour of Asia in particular, Remote Lands does an exceptional job of working with private and charter jet carriers across Asia. The best thing about Design Your Own tours is that you can design your own expectations. If you need a spa day in between hikes, this can easily be accommodated. These journeys are great for those vacations where you want the best of both adventure and relaxation.
Other Private Jet Options
Of course, if you’re just looking to dodge airport lines on your way to the beach, there are a number of options for you as well. If you’re not quite ready to purchase your own jet from a source such as globalair.com, you can purchase a share in a fleet from Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets. Though becoming a NetJets owner is replete with benefits, they provide a number of chartering options for those who aren’t ready to own. PrivateFly.com is a wonderful source if you’re looking to book a flight between Caribbean islands, which is certainly the way to travel.
If you’re simply looking for a seat on a private flight as opposed to a first-class seat, BlackJet provides its members with seats on private jets via their website or iPhone app, which makes luxury travel a bit too easy. If this sounds too much like what you’re upgrading from, know that you still get to skip the airport lines, and my friend even had the opportunity to party with the existing passengers on her flight. For travelers looking to customize their voyages, travel by private jet provides an abundance of options that will lift you out of the monotony of first class.