My Very Own Private Jet from St. Louis to Indianapolis for $126
If you’re a frequent reader of BoardingArea blogs, you probably saw a handful of posts concerning a free private jet share membership for individuals with over a million frequent flyer miles or the highest elite tier, sometime last week. Unfortunately, I’m quite there yet so I don’t qualify for the trial. Still, the private jet share company that’s offering the elite status/million mile trial, JetSmarter, is offering a trial membership for individuals without status or miles.
JetSmarter has received a lot of attention lately. After seeing the elite status trial offer, I decided to do some research on the company. I managed to find a link and promo code for a free three-month trial membership. Of course, I signed up. Upon opening the JetSmarter app on my phone, I discovered that the only feature the “pay-as-you-go” trial offers is access to deeply discounted empty leg flights. Empty leg flights are usually relocation or repositioning flights in which, regardless if there are passengers onboard or not, a private jet has to fly from one base to the other. Some companies, aside from JetSmarter, offer these empty leg flights to the public for hundreds and thousands of dollars. JetSmarter, being a membership-based program, offers deeply discounted empty leg flights.
The first day the trial was active, I customized the app on my phone to alert me when there were empty leg flights departing from local airports. On Wednesday, I received an alert on my phone notifying me of an empty leg flight departing St. Louis bound for Indianapolis. Though the flight was short, the price was unbelievable. For just $126, I would be able to fly in a private jet.
There was a chance that other JetSmarters would book seats on the flight but it was a risk I was willing to take. Neither St. Louis nor Indianapolis are private jet centric markets so I assumed it was a safe bet that I’d end up being the only passenger on the flight. That assumption combined with some graduation money burning a hole in my pocket lead me to book a seat on the flight.
My First Flight on a Private Jet
Booking was simple. Booking using the JetSmarter app was a lot like booking a ticket on American or Delta. However, I did receive a few messages from the JetSmarter Deals division inquiring about additional information needed for the booking. I had to send a picture of both my debit card and driver’s license in order to complete the booking. Within ten to fifteen minutes of sending my credentials through the app’s secure messaging system, the flight was confirmed.
The flight boarded between 3:30 and 4 PM from St. Louis-Lambert International Airport. I was required to get to the Signature Flight Support terminal roughly 15 minutes prior to departure or I’d forfeit the $126 and would end up paying $1000 on top of the forfeiture of $126. I ended up getting to the terminal around 3:20.
Pulling up to the private jet terminals at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport was a dream come true. My mom drove me to the terminal. As she pulled up to the gate, she looked over at me and gave me the, “I can’t believe you’re doing this look.” We radioed to the front desk and soon the gates opened. We pulled up to the terminal at which time, someone came out and offered me assistance with my bag. I declined not wanting to be a burden.
When I entered the terminal, I was greeted by a rep from Signature Flight Support. She introduced me to my pilots. My pilots were super professional and informed me of the route we’d be taking. I asked the pilots if we could take, “the long way to Indy.” They got a kick out of it. Interestingly, they told me they were on my time and we could leave whenever I wanted. After looking around the private jet terminal, I let my pilots know that I was ready to go.
I walked out to the ramp with my pilots and the ramp agent. The co-pilot loaded up my bag as I hopped in the Cessna Citation. The captain once again gave me a rundown of the route and let me know that the co-pilot would be running through a brief demo.
After he stowed my bag, the co-pilot came on board and walked through the seats, exits, and snacks. One thing I didn’t care for was a joke he made as he went through the features of the jet. He pointed to a compartment with a coffee maker and said, “There’s some coffee in here but you’re probably too young to drink coffee, aren’t ya?” I just stared at him. After a nice awkward exchange, the co-pilot made his way to the flight deck.
Within seconds of the co-pilot boarding, the ramp agent was marshaling the plane onto the taxiway. The Cessna Citation was one of the quietest planes I’ve ever been in. After the engines started up, it was silent on taxi. Additionally, the Cessna Citation I was on appeared, to lack a door to the flight deck so I was able to watch the flight out of the front of the aircraft, something I’d always dreamed of.
We lined up for takeoff and took off to the west. After turning right to the east, the aircraft started to level off and I decided to explore the aircraft.
The Cessna Citation M2 is a lightweight jet, however, was super comfortable. The passenger seats were comfortably padded and the legroom was, of course, not a problem. Additionally, the pilots kept the jet cool and there were dozens of air vents throughout the jet.
I sat in the last row of the aircraft. Directly behind me was the lavatory which features a curtain and a very small toilet.
Throughout the aircraft were standard AC outlets. Additionally, the aircraft featured free Gogo in-flight wifi. It turns out that, when you’re the only passenger, Gogo wi-fi can be pretty fast. I was able to stream music, text friends, and track the flight using the wi-fi without an issue.
The private jet operator provided cold drinks and snacks which were a nice touch. I brought my own drinks as well assuming that there wouldn’t be any service on an empty leg flight.
For the remainder of the flight, I took pictures and relaxed. Within that seemed like ten minutes, the aircraft was on final approach into Indianapolis International Airport. After a quick hour-long flight, the private jet pulled up to the Million Air terminal.
The co-pilot hopped out of his seat and welcomed me to the “Circle City.” That was the end of the flight. As I hopped out of the aircraft I realized it was back to reality as I’d be flying in Delta Comfort+ the following morning.
I’ve managed to cross yet another item off my bucket list. I’m glad I took advantage of the JetSmarter deal as the likelihood of me ever flying in a private jet ever again is slim to none. JetSmarter is out of my price range at the time being priced at $5,000 a year. Plus, when you fly private, you forgo the pleasure of earning miles and elite status. Still, it’s nice to bypass security and have an entire plane to yourself for once.
Have you ever used JetSmarter? Would you forgo miles and points for $5,000?