Everyone knows the Golden Rule of air travel: Always arrive at least an hour or two before your flight. But what if I told you there’s a way to cut that time down to just 15 minutes and never break a sweat? No security lines, no hidden fees, no penalties for missing your flights. It sounds like some sort of airline-food induced fever dream, but this is the reality of flying in a private jet.
I know what you’re thinking, and believe me I’m no millionaire, either. But thanks to the Tradewind Shuttle, a small private jet company that serves the Northeast U.S. and the Caribbean, the private jet experience may now be within your financial reach. Instead of buying your own private jet or renting one for $3,000 an hour, you can buy a seat on a small eight-seat Tradewind jet for as little as $250 each way.
The experience is a pleasant throwback to the golden days of aviation before airlines began charging for every convenience. A friendly concierge will contact you to answer any questions you might have after booking, and the pilots will introduce themselves to you personally before you board. Though there are no flight attendants, the self-service cooler at the back of the plane is complimentary and will make the flight feel much more casual. It’s not private in the literal sense of the word, but as a practical matter it sure feels that way. Anyone who’s endured the discomfort of a full commercial flight won’t mind the company of a handful of other passengers.
Tradewind has been operating an island-hopping shuttle in the Caribbean since 2005, but most recently the company has expanded in the Northeast with direct flights between New York’s Westchester airport and Boston’s Logan airport (starting at $350 one-way), and between Westchester and Stowe, Vermont (starting at $395 one-way).
It’s an especially good deal for frequent business travelers whose personal schedules are subject to change. Tickets are fluid, so if you miss your flight, need to reschedule, or even if you need to give your ticket to someone else, you won’t be charged any extra fees. Plus, if you’re a long-distance commuter, you can even buy tickets in bulk by purchasing a coupon book, which offers one-way flights as low as $250. And even if you’re just getting away to Vermont for a weekend of skiing, you’ll be happy to know there’s no oversized luggage charge for your ski equipment.
Compared to commercial airlines, a flight on the Tradewind shuttle is still more expensive, but what you end up paying for is the convenience, comfort, and the time you save. When you account for the hours you’ll spend getting to the airport, going through security, and waiting to board, flying from Boston to New York takes just about as long on a commercial flight as driving the same route.
The true luxury of the small jet experience lies in its convenience. Without lines, fees, or the inevitable hassles of conventional air travel, flying is allowed to be fun again.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
(Photo: Tradewind Aviation)
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