Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fly Right

If the very rich had to fly like we do, they’d make some changes!
by Charlie Leck

Can you remember when you used to fly quite often? I do.

If I wanted to go down to Chicago to see the grandkids, I’d jump on a shuttle from Minneapolis to Chicago and visit them? If there was a hot play in the Big Apple and we wanted to see it, we’d take a flight to Newark or LaGuardia and spend a night in Manhattan so we could take in the play and have a nice bite at Delmonico’s afterwards. If I wanted to play 3 or 4 rounds of golf in the winter, I’d take a flight to Florida and join a few friends for a few afternoons on the links.

Not anymore!

I won’t badger you with it, because you know what I’m talking about. It has just become too unpleasant to fly. Now, instead, I’d prefer to spend the entire winter in Minnesota than to make my way out to the airport in order to escape the danged cold weather.

But, I’ve discovered, the very rich don’t worry about these inconveniences. I’m talking about the class of folks even beyond the first class crowd. I’m talking about those who do their traveling in private jets.

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago. I boarded, with ten other members of the family, a private jet (Falcon 90) for a flight from Minneapolis to Western Pennsylvania. Five minutes after a few of us arrived at the special terminal and had a wonderful cup of coffee, with fresh cream, and relaxed in cozy and comfortable chairs, we looked at each other and someone said: “I’m never flying commercial again!” We hadn't even boarded the plane yet, to see the luxurious accommodations that awaited us.

We all felt the same way.

No TSA lines and pat-downs. We didn’t have to worry about bringing extra sun lotion along. We parked and left our automobile less than 100 feet from the front door. A baggage attendant met our car and swept our baggage magically to the plane. No extra charges. Our pilot came out and introduced himself and shook hands with each of us. He apologized that he had to ask to see a photo i.d. for each of us. That’s all. Security check over. We boarded about 10 minutes before our schedule departure time. A wonderful flight attendant (Laurie, of Sicilian and German roots) greeted us and explained a few safety procedures. We left the ground on time. Our seating was lush and roomy. The rest room was large and spotless. The day’s newspapers were spread on a counter inside the plane. Laurie served a spectacular lunch. My wife went up to the cockpit and took a seat behind the pilots and watched them maneuver the beautiful and comfortable craft toward our destination. We arrived too quickly. Like kids at a carnival, we begged for another loop.

Our flight crew assisted us to the terminal, moving our luggage for us and making sure our rental cars were waiting. They explained they’d remain in the region for the three nights we’d be there and would greet us back here for our departure. The pilot gave me his card and asked that I call if I needed any assistance during our stay.

Oh my. How shall I ever fly any other way again?


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