What It’s Like to Fly on a Private Jet

What is it like to fly on a private jet?

It’s awesome. Now you know. But I should elaborate a bit.

Private jet travel means no TSA security lines, no baggage check counter, no queueing up at the gate 30 minutes before the agents open the door 45 minutes after they were supposed to. It means large, comfortable seats, private restrooms, plentiful personal space, a glass or two of fine wine along with your fancy snacks, and a precisely maintained schedule.

private jet flights cessna citation latitude june 2018 2
Steven John/The Manual

At least that was the case when I recently boarded a Cessna Citation Latitude for a 30-minute flight from Teterboro, New Jersey, to the Hamptons courtesy of NetJets, the largest private jet aviation company in the world. The ironic thing is that, despite the general impression of private jet travel as an exclusive affair reserved for CEOs and celebrities, a large portion of private jet passengers aren’t using the planes for fun, but rather to get work done.

If there’s one thing I can certainly say about private air travel, it’s that commercial flight is no match when it comes to efficiency.

According to Patrick Gallagher, executive vice president of sales and marketing for NetJets, often “the people flying private are the ones who have to get to two factories in different cities in the morning and then an afternoon meeting somewhere else too. Flying commercial, you just can’t do that.” He explained that more often than C-level executives use private jets to cruise around in luxury, midlevel managers use private aviation to shuttle between locations with maximum efficiency, getting more work done in less time and ultimately saving companies money thanks to this efficiency.

If there’s one thing I can certainly say about private air travel, it’s that commercial flight is no match when it comes to efficiency. Once past the security gate outside a private airport, a passenger can be aboard his or her aircraft in a matter of minutes. With minimal traffic on the runway, the jets are usually in the air within minutes of scheduled departure times. I longed for any delay that would leave my flights sitting on the tarmac before takeoff or circling prior to landing, but alas both the flight east and the return back west took off and landed right on time.

While in the air, the flight was smooth and stable despite the relatively small size of the 62-foot long aircraft, which has a 72-foot wingspan and a cabin in which I could almost stand up straight. Able to seat nine passengers in total, when loaded with four passengers and a two-man crew, the Citation Latitude has a range of 2,700 miles.

The comfort and range combined with the moderate price tag (moderate for the private business jet category, mind you) of around $16.7 million per plane have made the Cessna Citation Latitude the best-selling aircraft in its size category, and NetJets has been acquiring the plane at a steady rate. Which is no surprise, really, as the company is both the oldest private jet aviation company on Earth and has the largest fleet of private jet aircraft, with about 700 jets in total.

private jet flights cessna citation latitude layout
Net Jets

In case you were wondering, the name NetJets has nothing to do with the Internet. In fact, the company was founded back in 1964 as Executive Jet Aviation and acquired the NetJets name in 1987. The “net” is a reference to the company’s fractional ownership business model wherein several entities (meaning businesses and/or crazy rich people, which is to say, people who are quite well-to-do, not people who are wealthy and also insane) can purchase partial ownership of a given aircraft. Depending on the portion purchased, the owner(s) have access to anywhere from 50 to 400 hours of annual flight time, and with so many planes, a jet can be ready to take off within four hours of an owner requesting a flight. (Also, don’t worry if “your” plane is not available, they just put you on an identical or an even bigger one.)

Don’t get me wrong, private jet travel is expensive stuff even with the NetJets model — you have to request pricing info from the company directly — but it’s more affordable to own a percentage of a plane than the whole damn thing. Maybe not quite in your or my price range at present, but, you know … let’s be aspirational.

Living

Behind-the-Scenes at Van Dam Custom Boats’ Workshop and Design Studio

Every boat begins not with a model or template, but with a conversation.
Travel

The Future of Air Travel Is Full of Cute, Dog-Sized Robots

Do we want armies of small autonomous robots running rampant in every airport bathroom, newsstand, and Chili’s Too?
Culture

Post-Workout Eyeball Recovery is a Thing and Under Armour is Leading the Way

New tech uses a proprietary and restorative color profile that eliminates harmful violet light and allows helpful blue light to regulate natural circadian rhythms and eye relaxation.
Auto

You Can Drive Like Bandit in a Revamped Trans Am with 840 Horsepower

"Smokey and the Bandit" burnt rubber across the silver screen with 96 minutes of Burt Reynolds jumping bridges, outrunning smokeys, and looking damn cool doing it.
Auto

The 2019 Range Rover Lineup Includes Land Rover’s First-Ever Plug-In Hybrid

The Range Rover P400e will pioneer Land Rover's transition to electrically assisted powertrains.
Outdoors

Is this the Fanciest (And Most Expensive) Pedal Boat Ever?

We love a regular old pedal boat as much as the next guy, but this one takes the cake.
Auto

This Supercar-Stomping Porsche 959 Tore Up the ’80s Rally Stage — and It’s on the Auction Block

When Porsche entered the Paris-Dakar rally with this modified 959, it caused quite a stir. Now it could be yours.
Auto

5 Best Cars You Can Modify for $15,000 or Less

Thanks to a booming aftermarket, you can unleash the potential of these great, affordable cars with the right modifications.
Auto

Could Harley Davidson’s New Motorcycles Signal the Brand’s Rebirth?

Harley-Davidson is in financial trouble but a brand-new lineup of bikes could be the century-old company's lifeline.
Auto

Danny Thompson Just Set a Land Speed Record in a 50-Year-Old Car

The Challenger 2 is 50 years old. Danny Thompson is 69. Both are proof that somethings bet better with age.
Auto

Lotus Cars Will Get a Massive Cash Injection to Compete With Porsche

Despite its rich motorsport and road car history, Lotus Cars has never been much more than a niche sports car builder. That's all about to change.
Auto

Driving Ford’s New 2019 Mustang Bullitt and Living the McQueen Dream

Given the classic film's history with San Francisco, Ford invited us to take a ride in a Mustang that would make McQueen swoon.
Auto

The Gambler 500 Is the Badass Off-Road Rally You’ve Never Heard Of

Your goal: to buy a cheap, impractical vehicle and race across Oregon backroads.