Flying private from Southern California to Las Vegas ushered in an entirely new era in my personal flight history.
As I alluded to in my teaser post, flying on a private jet is a dream for every aviation junkie. When my friend Nancy invited John and me on a last-minute empty leg flight to Vegas, I was ecstatic. The fact that it was operated by a Bombardier Challenger 300 was icing on the cake.
We took Uber from our office in Glendale to Van Nuys Airport, pulling up to Signature Aviation down a quiet side street. The entrance is nondescript: just a gated driveway with a small intercom box. Speaking into the intercom, we announced our arrival and our names were checked off against the flight manifest. Inside, free parking is available (we did not drive ourselves, since we were returning to Los Angeles). There are even Tesla chargers available.
Inside the adobe-style terminal, everyone was laid back. We were welcomed in and invited to take a seat and enjoy a cup of coffee. On a private charter, departure time is somewhat fluid. Although our scheduled departure was at 3:01p, we headed out to the aircraft about 2:50p since all five passengers had arrived. The captain escorted us out.
A conference room was available:
The walk from the terminal to aircraft was about 500 feet.
Airport Security on a Private Jet?
There were no metal detectors, of course, and our baggage was not screened. I’m told that on some longer charters, like transcons to New York, baggage is randomly screened. We did have to submit our names and DOBs earlier in the day, though. Presumably, there was some sort of light background check performed.
Van Nuys (VNY) – Las Vegas (LAS)
Monday, December 11
Depart: 03:01PM (3:10p actual)
Arrive: 03:37PM (4:02p actual)
Duration: 0hr, 36min (52min actual)
Aircraft: Challenger 300 (N546XJ)
It was exciting to step onboard this plane. Last time I flew private was on a King Air 350 which is just not the same.
This eight-seat jet is sleek, with six well-padded, swiveling leather chairs and a couch for two additional passengers.
The captain introduced himself and provided a flight and safety briefing, explaining our route plan the safety features onboard. The first officer was a retired Southwest pilot (pictured below outside aircraft) who was AMAZINGLY friendly. He seemed more excited than all of us and I loved that enthusiasm.
We encountered a flight ATC delay, but pushed back and were in the air about 10 minutes after scheduled takeoff.
The aircraft has individual air nozzles and reading lights as well as control panels throughout the plane to manage audio and video.
Window shades are controlled by lever.
Private Jet Amenities
There is no meal service included on JetSmarter, but light snacks and drinks are available free of charge. On smaller private jets, no FA is present and you just help yourself.
Choices included alcoholic and soft drinks, water, nuts, pretzels, candy, cookies, and chewing gum.
I enjoyed a bottle of San Pellegrino and some smoked almonds.
Private Jet Lavatory
A lavatory in the rear of the aircraft features a standard “airline” toilet and a slightly larger sink than you’ll find on most commercial airlines.
Cell Phone Service + Wi-Fi
Strong and stable onboard internet allowed for “T-Mobile Wi-Fi” coverage for most of the flight. It was nice to stay on top of emails and send/receive phone calls as if on the ground. No one spoke loud or was obnoxious.
> Read More: Here’s Why I Support In-Flight Cell Phone Calls
We did not climb above 20,000 feet and at many points in the flight received a regular mobile phone signal as well.
After landing in Las Vegas near the private jet terminal we were taken by golf cart to the Atlantic private jet terminal.
A representative brought over Nancy’s rental car and she drove John and me over to the commercial side of the airport.
We’d be flying commercial home…
Flying private is so much fun…but also quite practical considering the many scheduled charters JetSmarter has, such as the daily New York service. Both John and I are considering a membership if our company travels continues to pick up. We’re looking at a trip to New York and Florida next week and it sure would be nice to avoid LAX.
The beauty of flying private is a far more relaxed atmosphere and lack of annoyances like lines and security checks. Thanks again to Nancy for making this flight possible.