By Jenny Peters
Ever wanted to fly like a celebrity or a billionaire, in your very own private jet? If JetSuiteX, the “public charter” airline that flies out of Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport’s private terminals has its way, you’ll soon be doing just that.
The company began flying their E-135 jets back in April 2016, heading to Las Vegas and Concord, Calif. (just north of Oakland in the East Bay), with just 30 seats per plane. Designed with the idea that travelers using private terminals cut out literally hours of travel time, JetSuiteX flights start at $129 each way, with up to 50 pounds in two bags checked at no additional charge. The leather seats on the jets have legroom like a business-class seat; cocktails and snacks are also included.
JetSuiteX invited me to try it out on a flight on their latest route, from Burbank to San Jose, which launched on September 12, 2017, with twice-daily round-trip flights every day except Saturday (12 flights per week). As a seasoned travel reporter, I’m pretty good at getting through airports like LAX faster than most people, using things like online check-in, membership status on my airline of choice and TSA PreChek for security, but there’s no way around spending at least an hour before the flight at the airport. With JetSuiteX, none of those things mattered.
I took an Uber to the airline’s private terminal, but had I chosen to drive, all-day valet parking (the only choice you have for the Burbank terminal) is $28. Straight into the terminal, I walked up to the desk, showed my ID and was handed a boarding pass. In less than 30 minutes (the time JetSuiteX suggests you allow before the flight), we were walking onto the tarmac and boarding the plane. No security lines, no jostling for position and off we went, for the less-than-an-hour trip to San Jose.
At the San Jose private airport, deplaning was a snap. Overall, the trip was exactly what Alex Wilcox, the founder and CEO of JetSuiteX, said it would be. “Our customers get to arrive refreshed when they skip things like arriving up to two hours before an hour-long flight, getting herded through lines or feeling the discomfort of boarding a plane with 100 other people.”
At Burbank, Concord and Las Vegas, the airline has an arrangement with Go Rentals car rentals, to provide cars right at the private terminal. And Uber, Lyft and taxi services are all ready to serve as well.
Adding even more excitement to this incredibly efficient way to fly to short-haul destinations, this Fall JetSuiteX has a special offering for college football fanatics. The company has two pop-up flights planned from Burbank to the Bay Area and to Tucson, Arizona, offering a way for fans to travel round trip to the USC at Cal (September 23) or UCLA at Arizona (October 14) game. Flights for each game will depart Burbank three hours before game time and return approximately two hours after the games on the same day. Fans will be notified by phone and/or email prior to game day with the final flight departure and arrival times. Tickets start at $400 round trip for this special “public charter” offering. Tickets to the games are not included and must be purchased separately through the universities or another authorized ticket agent.
Sadly, JetSuiteX only plans to do short-haul flights, so getting across the country on this ingenious airline to see my family won’t be an option. But as Wilcox promises, there will be more hubs across the country coming up in the next year, with more opportunities to fly like a celebrity – for a little while, at least.
Follow Jenny Peters on Twitter @jennpeters and on Instagram @jetsetjen1