The first time I flew on a private jet, it was with Mariah Carey. How’s that for an opening line?
We were coming back from Madrid, I was interviewing her and she was showing off, pretending she couldn’t pull down the window blind so someone had to come and do it for her… at which she winked at me, as if to say, ‘Bitch don’t even have to pull down her own window blind!’ And why should Bitch when Bitch is Mariah Carey?
Now, I’m Mariah Carey, flying back from Ibiza on one of Aero’s Legacy jets and I’m fighting the urge not to be able to pull down my own window blind, even though all you have to do is slide a button to the left and a perfectly concertina-ed linen blind descends. See! Easy!
Our steward, Michael, would be more than happy to pull it down for me if I did have any trouble, because nothing is too much bother. There was a glass of champagne with my name on it (literally! On it!) waiting as I got on board – after Jackie O-style photos of me waving at the top of the teeny-tiny steps – and the level barely goes down a centimetre before it gets topped up. And it goes down a centimetre quite a lot. Someone fell asleep and blinds were pulled down all around him just in case a single lumen of light got near his eyes.
But I’m not Mariah Carey and it’s not just Mariah Carey who can afford to fly on a private jet these days, not now Aero is in business. They have a clever ‘dynamic pricing model’ (not sure what that means either, but it’s forcing us to believe it!) What it essentially boils down to is ‘bloody good private bang for your buck’. So if it’s you and a bunch of mates… yes, it’s going to be more expensive than Ryanair, but how much money would you spend NOT to have to fly Ryanair? A lot, right?
The cabin itself is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fabulous. Sixteen seats (cross-body seat-belts: much chicer!), twelve of which on this jet can lay out flat as a pancake, all leather, white canvas walls (imagine if they let the Ryanair lot on here!) and a little lacquered bathroom where you have to lift up a padded leather seat before you get anywhere near the toilet – like in case you might want to just sit in there and do nails or something. Carpet throughout, lacquered teak partitions and screens where you watch your flight count down, wishing it was going slower.
Well, with service like Michael is putting on, why would you ever want to land and start doing things for yourself? Hot popcorn? Go on then. Sesame bagel chips? We’ll give ‘em a try. Have you let your champagne go down 50mm? Sorry Michael. And yet he’s still willing to get you a freshly tossed goat’s cheese salad should you have even one single hunger pang.
It all started out in a tiny little airport building in Ibiza with pictures of Christian Dior and Grace Jones, all-white leather furniture and teeny-tiny bottles of Moët with real corks. You just walk in, they take your luggage and – in our case – we didn’t see a single other person. No one who didn’t know where their passport was, no children sitting on floors, no one fighting over the only electrical socket available to charge iPhones, no overpriced WHSmith sandwiches, so dry you could use them as shower mats. Drink up that Moët, we’re going early because we’re all here, the limousine will stop to have your passport checked then it’s straight up the chrome steps to loveliness.
Yes, we’ve all got used to awful budget airlines by now… but don’t we deserve nicer things? And think of the Insta-opportunities! We ran our phones dry doing seat-up, seat-down, champagne through window, sitting in loo. If it’s a special thing – you’re getting married, for instance, or popping to the new Standard in Ibiza Town – look into it. Mariah Carey would.