Flying to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket is surprisingly cheap this year as wealthy people look for summer escapes

Martha's Vineyard
  • Travel between New York and the vacation spots of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard is heating up.
  • Smaller carriers like Cape Air, Tradewind Aviation, and Elite Airways offer semi-private flights.
  • JetBlue, Delta, and United also plan to fly to the New England coast.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s the time of year again when wealthy people flee the concrete jungle of New York City in search of beaches and wide-open spaces.

New England hot spots like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island are primed for an influx of summer visitors as COVID-19 restrictions wane. But with the coronavirus still a threat, wealthy people are more likely to dig deeper into their pockets and splurge on a more exclusive means of travel.

Airlines and luxury private operators are gearing up to accommodate any and all travelers – with new flights in addition to their usual services that can transport flyers in as little as 45 minutes.

Read More: Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population – and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe

Here are all the options travelers have when flying between New York and the Massachusetts Islands this summer.

Flying commercial

JetBlue Embraer E190
A JetBlue Embraer E190 aircraft.

Three major airlines serve Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from New York’s three area airports and Westchester County Airport north of the city. Flying commercial is often the least expensive option, especially with a mix of carriers on the routes.

JetBlue Airways offers the greatest variety of service to the islands with flights from John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Westchester County Airport. Flights use JetBlue’s Embraer E190 aircraft, and one-way fares can be as low as $75.

Delta Air Lines also offers flights from JFK and LaGuardia to both islands on regional jets. One-way fares are as low as $85, and first class is offered for a premium on some days.

United Airlines is offering non-stop flights only between Newark and Nantucket. It also uses regional jets, and schedules show United will deploy its swankiest of them all, the Bombardier CRJ550, with 10 first class seats, 20 “Economy Plus” extra-legroom seats, and 20 standard economy seats.

Elite Airways

Elite Airways
An Elite Airways Bombardier CRJ200 regional aircraft.

Elite Airways is the newest carrier to offer service between New York and Massachusetts, with flights from Westchester to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard starting Memorial Day weekend. The carrier is set to use Bombardier regional jets on the routes with fares starting as low as $129.

The airline also boasts complimentary amenities like a free checked bag, advanced seat assignments, and onboard snacks and drinks.

Cape Air

Cape Air Boston Logan International Airport
Cape Air aircraft at Boston Logan International Airport.

One of America’s largest independent regional airlines, Cape Air, offers a semi-private experience between New York and the New England coast.

Five routes are offered from New York – three from Westchester and two from JFK. Both airports offer flights to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, with service to Provincetown, Massachusetts also available from Westchester. Service differs depending on the departure airport.

Flights to and from Westchester use a private terminal away from the airport’s main commercial terminal. At JFK, flights use Terminal 5, which JetBlue also uses.

Cape Air flights between New York and Massachusetts use Cessna 402 twin-engine piston aircraft with no WiFi or in-flight entertainment, and often no co-pilot. It’s truly a back-to-basics experience but does the trick on short flights. Passengers can also request to sit in the cockpit if there’s no co-pilot.

But even with the basic aircraft and a single pilot, one-way fares for the summer often run more than $200.

Blade

Blade helicopter
A Blade Bell 407 helicopter.

Helicopter company Blade offers weekender flights between Westchester and the Massachusetts Islands using Pilatus PC-12 turboprop aircraft starting May 27. Flights to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are available and use private terminals on both ends of the journey.

One-way fares start at $725 plus tax and do not require a membership.

Wheels Up

Wheels Up
A Wheels Up Beechcraft King Air 350i.

Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation firm, is resuming its Nantucket shuttle from Westchester starting Memorial Day weekend. Travelers can purchase seats on its Beechcraft King Air 350i turboprop aircraft for $795, with flights departing on Fridays at 5 p.m. and returning on Sundays at 5 p.m.

Flights use private terminals at both ends of the journey, so flyers can skip the security checkpoint. One carry-on bag, or a set of golf clubs, is permitted.

However, the shuttle is only available to Wheels Up members. There are three tiers of annual memberships, with the most basic “connect membership” costing $2,495 per year and a one-time initiation fee of $2,995.

Tradewind Aviation

Tradewind plane
A Tradewind Aviation Pilatus PC-12.

Private aviation firm Tradewind Aviation is also resuming shuttle services between Westchester and Massachusetts.

The company uses single-engine Pilatus PC-12 turboprop aircraft with luxurious interiors that feature executive-style leather seats. Tradewind flights use private terminals on both ends of the journey.

Prices and flight times vary day to day, but one-way fares are often between $400 and $1,000.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dassault’s largest-ever private jet can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles and has fighter jet tech- meet the $75 million Falcon 10X

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

  • Dassault Aviation unveiled a new jet to compete with Gulfstream and Bombardier’s heavy-hitters.
  • The Falcon 10X features a 7,500 nautical mile range and the widest cabin of any competitor.
  • Its cockpit features fighter jet features, touchscreen systems, and digital fly-by-wire technology.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dassault Aviation is finally catching up to its competitors.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The French aircraft manufacturer just unveiled the latest in its line of Falcon business jets, including its $75 million flagship, the Falcon 10X.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The largest and widest business aircraft that Dassault has ever produced, the Falcon 10X aims to be a long-range leader after the company fell behind competitors Bombardier and Gulfstream in the ultra-long-range category.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Read More: French aircraft maker Dassault just unveiled a new $47 million private jet that can fly 5,500 nautical miles — take a look at the Falcon 6X

The Falcon 8X, Dassault’s current flagship, for example, only has a top range of 6,450 nautical miles, more than 1,000 nautical miles shy of its competitor’s top products.

The Dassault Falcon 8X takes to the air at Le Bourget airport on June 19.
A Dassault Falcon 8X performs at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France June 19, 2019.

A range of 7,500 nautical miles on the Falcon 10X, however, firmly puts Dassault back in the game.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Bombardier’s Global 7500, alternatively, has a top range of 7,700 nautical miles.

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say 2 new planes coming out soon will change the business forever. See inside the Gulfstream G700 and Bombardier Global 7500.

Source: Bombardier

And Gulfstream’s G700, which has not yet achieved certification, can fly 7,500 nautical miles.

11 Gulfstream G700
A cabin mockup of Gulfstream’s G700.

Read More: Gulfstream’s new $75 million private jet is the world’s largest — see inside

Source: Gulfstream

Step into the cabin of the Falcon 10X.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

An aircraft intended to fly for more than 15 hours needs to be, at the very least, comfortable. At nine feet and one inch, the Falcon 10X’s cabin is the widest of any of the ultra-long-range business jets from Dassault, Gulfstream, and Bombardier.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Rival aircraft top out at eight feet and two inches, the width of the Gulfstream G700.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The Falcon 10X also boasts the tallest cabin among its competitors with a height of six feet and eight inches.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The cabin can be divided into four areas, each with unique touches. “Comfort and productivity” were guiding principles in designing the living areas, Carlos Brana, Dassault’s executive vice president for civil aviation, told Insider.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Seat pairs, for example, still feature tray tables but they are individualized as to not bother the seat neighbor. They can be also brought together if need be.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

A staple on any wide-cabin private jet, the Falcon 10X also features a dining and conference area that can be used for meals or meetings.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Even the galley kitchen is used as a living area, with the crew rest area doubling as a seat. Unlike other private jets, two windows illuminate the kitchen with natural light and open the space that’s traditionally reserved as a work area for cabin attendants.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

An entertainment suite acts as a retreat to unwind on longer flights, complete with a divan and wide-screen television.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

The bedroom is located at the rear of the aircraft as an onboard retreat. The extra width of the cabin allows for a queen-size bed to fit in the room.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Aircraft owners can also opt for another seat in the bedroom to act as an office or a private setting for meals. “We created an apartment, a penthouse in the sky,” Agnès Gervais, Dassault’s head of industrial design, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Attached to the master bedroom is an en suite bathroom, complete with a walk-in shower, further establishing the notion of a flying apartment.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

With 19 windows on each side of the aircraft, there will be no shortage of natural light.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

In order to mitigate jet lag and other adverse effects of long hours in a plane, the jet’s cabin humidity and pressure levels can be the same at 41,000 feet as they feel at 3,000 feet.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Fresh, filtered air will also be flowing through the cabin. “Our goal is to make sure that when [passengers] exit the airplane, they are fresh, rested, relaxed, and they can go to the next stage of their trip,” Brana said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

In the cockpit, touchscreen technology is widely used with Honeywell Aerospace’s Primus Epic avionics suite. Multi-touch functionality allows two pilots to use the same screen at once.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Read More: Aircraft will soon be voice-controlled in the next step towards self-flying planes — here’s how engineers are actively working to make it reality

Source: Dassault Aviation

Four high-definition displays give pilots information and are flanked by flight computers. Honeywell Aerospace also provided a lot of safety features including synthetic vision, airport moving maps, and a runway overrun awareness system.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Dassault was also able to use technology found on its Rafale fighter jet aircraft in the Falcon 10X.

French Air Force Dassault Rafale
A French Air Force Dassault Rafale.

Engine thrust is controlled by a single lever, despite the aircraft having two engines, just like on the Rafale

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

And pilots have heads-up displays that can help navigate through poor weather.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Side-stick controls have replaced standard control yokes, and the Falcon 10X also features digital fly-by-wire controls to improve safety. A button on each side of the cockpit can steady the plane in the event of unusual turbulence.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Both cockpit seats are also designed to lay fully flat to form a bed and eventually act as a crew rest area for one of the pilots.

That’s not allowed just yet as two pilots have to be flying at all times, but increased automation is leading to fewer pilots being needed in the cockpit in the future.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

“Our objective is to drastically reduce workload while still be able to adapt to the challenges of air traffic control,” Philippe Duchateau, Dassault’s chief test pilot, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Powering the Falcon 10X are two Rolls-Royce Perl 10X engines producing more than 18,000 pounds of thrust each and offering a top speed of Mach .925.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

It’s the first time that Dassault has called upon Rolls-Royce for Falcon jet aircraft engine. “We strongly believe that Rolls-Royce has the right competencies, the right technology in order to design this engine to be fitted for us,” Éric Trappier, Dassault’s chief executive officer, said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Aiding the aircraft’s aerodynamic performance is its wing design. Dassault needed it to be effective at high speeds during cruise flight, and also at low speeds when accessing smaller airports.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

As a result, the carbon-fiber wings were swept back further and the wingspan increased.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Every city pair in the world is accessible with just one stop and non-stop city pairs include long flights like New York-Johannesburg, South Africa; Paris, France-Santiago, Chile; and Hong Kong-Atlanta, meaning fewer stops for travelers.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

“We put the bar very high, at the top,” Trappier said.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

The Falcon 10X’s entry into service is planned for late 2025.

Dassault Falcon 10X
Dassault Aviation’s new Falcon 10X private jet.

Source: Dassault Aviation

Read the original article on Business Insider

I visited the newly renovated AmEx Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas airport and it was the best way to spend a layover in Sin City

LAS Centurion Lounge
  • American Express just completed renovations on its Las Vegas Centurion Lounge, adding more than 4,000 square feet.
  • The lounge is only accessible to select cardholders, including Platinums and Centurions.
  • Complimentary food and alcohol are just some of the perks that the Las Vegas-themed lounge offers.3
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Las Vegas is home to one of American Express’ 14 Centurion Lounges, widely considered to be the gold standard of airport lounges because of their high-end offerings including complimentary and meticulous crafted food items and alcoholic beverages.

McCarran Airport
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas NV

The lounge is located in the airport’s D gate concourse, home to United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and JetBlue Airways, among others.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Passenger on any airline can access the lounge, however, if they have the American Express Platinum or Centurion card. American Express Delta Skymiles Reserve cardholders can also use the lounge when flying Delta or a Delta-marketed flight.

Platinum Card from American Express

I had a six-hour layover in the airport so I headed straight to the lounge. Departing passengers are normally only allowed to enter within three hours of their flight but connecting passengers are exempt from that rule.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Here’s what it was like inside the Las Vegas Centurion Lounge.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

I checked into the lounge using digital check-in via the American Express mobile application and was given a QR code to show the agent. I only had to show my boarding pass and identification as the agent saw my check-in on her end.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Within seconds, I was inside one of the most exclusive clubs in Las Vegas. Greeting me was this portrait of a dog resting on an American Express trunk accompanying two black armchairs, a staple of the Centurion Lounge that can be found in every location.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The lounge was moderately crowded and employees, as a result, were escorting guests to particular seats to help ensure distancing.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

I was asked if I wanted to sit in one of the main seating areas….

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Or the dining area. I chose the former to take advantage of the more comfortable seating.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

I was traveling alone so I was given one of these cushioned cubbies, complete with my own table.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Capacity in the lounge is limited due to the pandemic so certain seating areas are blocked.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Along the wall where I was sitting, for example, every other cubby was blocked.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

It created an extra degree of privacy and meant I had more room to store my bags, and another table to hold my laptop while I ate lunch.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Once I got settled, I headed over to the buffet to get something to eat. These lounges are known for having good eats with menus crafted from local chefs. Chef Kim Canteenwalla had designed this menu.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The offering was quite extensive and better than what I’d seen in competing airline lounges even before the pandemic. Light options included a chopped bacon, lettuce, and tomato salad…

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Butternut squash soup…

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

And mango cranberry couscous.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Hot items included kale pesto pasta…

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Brussel sprouts…

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Meatloaf…

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

And chimichurri fingerling potatoes.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

And for desert, peach cobbler was on offer.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Healthier options included fruits like apples, pears, and bananas. Cookies and honey mustard pretzels were also on offer but not many snacks were available other than that.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

All in all, it was some of the best airport food I’ve ever had. Every item was bursting with flavor and made for a great meal.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

And of course, the full bar is another big selling feature of the lounge as drinks are complimentary.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The main bar was closed but this makeshift bar still did the trick. Most common cocktails can be ordered at the bar but American Express’ in-house mixologist, Jim Meehan, also crafts specialty drinks for each location.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

One such drink was the “air mail,” a sparkling wine drink with rum, honey syrup, and lime juice.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Plexiglass partitions were also erected at the bar for social distancing.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

After having lunch, I walked around the more than 13,000 square foot space. American Express just recently renovated the lounge and it showed.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The decor was very modern and very Las Vegas. It made me feel like I was in the heart of the Strip despite only being at the airport.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Large sections of the lounge were blocked off but other sections included a sprawling conference table and more private seating.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

These lounges often lend themselves well to social distancing with high-walled chairs since privacy is a huge draw for discerning travelers.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

There are even private phone rooms that are enclosed for maximum privacy.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

I also discovered somewhat of a hidden room in the back of the lounge.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

It didn’t have any windows but was well-lit and has its own television.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The lounge’s family room was, however, off-limits due to the pandemic.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Roped-off areas were opened once the lounge was sufficiently crowded. It wasn’t uncommon before the pandemic to see these lounges filled to the brim.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Departure information screens could also be found throughout the lounge so passengers could stay up to date on the status of their next flight.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy one of the seating areas near the window as a variety of aircraft can be spotted.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Hot beverages were also available with multi-beverage coffee machines capable of making anything from a standard cup of coffee to espresso, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and anything in between.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

A selection of teas was also available with hot water.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Visiting this lounge made my six-hour layover go by in what felt like an instant.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The only downside is that it closes at 3 p.m., at which point the only other lounge available to passengers in the terminal is The Club LAS.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

But for the few hours I got to spend in the lounge, I can say that it will become a staple on my future visits to Las Vegas.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

The renovations and superior offering make it a jewel in the Centurion Lounge network.

American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas Airport
Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport

Read the original article on Business Insider

I visited the newly designed private terminal at LAX and saw why wealthy travelers are spending thousands for a membership

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • PS, the private terminal at LAX, has been a haven for wealthy travelers looking to avoid the traveling public.
  • As a result, memberships have been surging as the wealthy want a more private experience.
  • I visited a newly redesigned suite and saw first-hand what they’re paying thousands of dollars for.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
PS opened in 2017 as the Private Suite, a one-of-a-kind private terminal at one of the country’s busiest airports. Like most travel and hospitality companies, business was down at the pandemic’s peak in 2020 as would-be travelers stayed at home amid lockdowns.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

But just over one full year since lockdowns began, PS is reporting a resurgence in new memberships from flyers getting ready to travel.

PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.

Amina Belouizdad, PS’ co-chief executive officer, told Insider that memberships have surged and the company has signed on more new members than it had before the pandemic. Annual membership costs $4,500 but the wealthy are scooping them up, even if they don’t have upcoming travel planned.

PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.

“I think people want to have peace of mind that they have access to this,” Belouizdad said. “It’s a signal of customer sentiment, is what it is. People are saying, ‘I’m expecting to travel over the next year, I want to make sure me and my family can do it safely.'”

PS (Private Suite) at LAX
PS at Los Angeles International Airport.

And with that in mind, PS is embarking on a redesign for its Los Angeles flagship terminal to welcome back travelers with a new look. I stopped by PS on a recent layover in Los Angeles, here’s what it was like.

Flying on Alaska Airlines during pandemic
Flying on Alaska Airlines during the pandemic

The major appeal of PS is avoiding the commercial terminal at LAX entirely, and that’s only increased during the pandemic. Memberships are up as the wealthy want guaranteed access, even if they don’t have plans to fly in the near future.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

For those arriving at LAX by plane, the experience starts with a chauffeured car. PS representatives wait in the jetway to meet guests as soon as they step off of their flights, and promptly escort them to an awaiting vehicle below.

PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

PS has a fleet of vehicles available to use depending on group size but the flagship is the BMW 750i. Ideal for one to two passengers, the classic all-white sedan features an executive configuration for passengers in the back.

PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The car is loaded with luxurious amenities including leather seats with recline functionality to individual climate control for passengers in the back.

PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

There are even seat-back entertainment screens from which the SiriusXM radio can be controlled.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Then, it’s around a 10 to 15-minute drive to PS, located on the south side of the airport. As two runways separate the facility from the commercial terminals, drivers have to go all the way around the airport while obeying the airport’s modest speed limit

PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

As an aviation enthusiast, however, I wish the drive lasted longer as we were right alongside moving aircraft for most of the drive.

PS Direct
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Behemoth jets like the Boeing 747 were just outside the window, departing and landing just feet from the car.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

It was like getting a private tour of the airport all while traveling at the height of luxury.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Upon arrival at PS, it’s just a short walk down a private hallway into the facility. Everything from reservations to payment is done online so there’s no checking in or waiting in line. I didn’t even see another guest for the entirety of my stay.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

There are 13 suites in total at PS. Not all have received the redesign but that project is expected to be completed within the next six months.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

I walked into the suite and felt as if I’d just checked into a luxury hotel.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

It was incredibly modern and above any private lounge that I’ve seen at an airport. Members pay $3,250 per visit while non-members pay $4,350 per visit for up to four travelers.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The suites aren’t as large as a hotel suite but are comparable in size to a New York City studio apartment and include spacious living areas, wet bars, fully-stocked mini-fridges, and private bathrooms, among other features.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

PS takes a personal touch when dealing with guests. A handwritten note is left for guests welcoming them to the facility and detailing what they can expect from the stay.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

A massive high-definition television with DirecTV serves as the main entertainment for the suite, helping pass the time until a flight.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Guests can also make use of the in-suite phone and stationary. PS staff use the phone to communicate with guests and keep them informed on their departure information.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

This quasi-kitchen and wet bar are where all of the suite’s food and beverage items can be found.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

A selection of high-end snacks, liquors, and wines were all on offer and available free of charge to guests.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Snacks included pistachios, almonds, keto-friendly cereal, and water crackers, to name just a few.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Guests are also encouraged to take snacks with them on the plane and given this blue box to do so.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The fridge contained chilled soft drinks, waters, milk, alcoholic beverages, and even some more snacks. A guest here will truly want for nothing as everything is at their fingertips.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Those making cocktails can use the bar station and the pre-filled bucket of ice.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

And there was no shortage of glasses, cups, and dishes to use when dining.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Complimentary travel accessories were also scattered across the suite including noise-isolating headphones, headphone splitters, and charging cables.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The luxury continued into the restroom complete with marble floors and vanities, as well as gold-plated sink faucets.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

And the complimentary amenities kept on coming with everything a traveler would need to freshen up before a flight.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

There was even a selection of over-the-counter medications on offer if a traveler is feeling unwell or just wants a dose of Vitamin C to boost the immune system while traveling.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The suite design is the result of a partnership with Cliff Fong, a renowned design consultant, and it really felt like home instead of a transient space.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

“Our vision was always like, let’s create a space that feels residential, that feels like their home, that doesn’t feel like the airport, that doesn’t feel like a commercial space, that feels very familiar and collected,” Belouizdad said.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The suite window overlooked the airfield, as well as the PS fleet of luxury vehicles. The firm also offers a new service, called PS Direct, where flyers can be taken straight from their domestic flights to their final destination and avoid both the commercial terminal and the PS facility altogether.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Directly adjacent to the suite is an outdoor patio with benches and chairs to enjoy a bit of the outdoors before heading off on a plane for however many hours.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Suite 13 is often the most sought after since it includes this private outdoor space, accessible via a sliding door from the living room.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Meals are included in the stay and everything comes pre-packaged for sanitary reasons.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

The current menu is largely focused on Los Angeles-inspired meals, mainly salads and sandwiches, for lunch and dinner.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

I sampled the Peruvian steak sandwich and the chicken and prosciutto salad. Both were bursting with flavor and better than most of what’s available even in LAX’s premium lounges.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

It really came as no surprise that the wealthy are buying up access to the facility since staying here was so much more enjoyable than any airport experience I’ve had in years.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

For me, I found the true luxury of the suite wasn’t the complimentary goodies that were offered but that it was a quiet place to relax during a long layover nestled into an already long day of travel. Suites also feature a sleep kit with eyeshades and earplugs.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

When it was time to leave, PS staff came to the suite and escorted me to the in-house Transportation and Security Administration checkpoint. There’s no line and TSA PreCheck was available.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Then, it was just a short drive back to the commercial terminals and my awaiting JetBlue Airways flight.

PS Private Terminal at LAX
Visiting PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new luxury car service at LAX is letting wealthy flyers skip the terminal by meeting them planeside – and a single ride costs more than $3,000

PS Direct
A BMV 750i of PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

  • PS Direct is the latest offering of PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.
  • Wealthy travelers can pay $3,450 to have a private car and driver pick them up planeside.
  • The one-of-a-kind service is currently only available to those with a PS membership, priced at $4,500.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hopping off the plane at LAX just got a massive upgrade for certain types of travelers.

PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport that lets wealthy travelers skip the commercial terminal entirely, is introducing a new pandemic-era luxury car service that offers planeside pickups upon arrival.

PS Direct lets travelers skip the terminal entirely, including the PS private terminal, and head straight to their final destination just moments after stepping off of their commercial flight. That means no more waiting in taxi lines or walking through a crowded terminal to find one’s driver.

A PS representative greets passengers in the jetway and escorts them directly to the airport tarmac where their stylish BMW 750i awaits. The four-seater sedans feature executive passenger seating complete with seat-back entertainment screens, recline functionality, seat-warming capabilities, individual climate control, and a sunroof, to name just a few amenities.

PS Direct
A BMV 705i of PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Only PS annual members have access to the service and just a single ride incurs a fee of $3,450, which is $200 more than the cost of booking a luxurious suite at the facility. A yearly membership at PS costs $4,500 and comes with benefits like complimentary valet parking, free spa services (not available during the pandemic), and priority reservations when booking suites.

Amina Belouizdad, co-CEO at PS, told Insider that the higher price point for the service compared to its suites comes as a result of the cost of licensing for its drivers and other expenses associated with launching the service.

For frequent PS users, the experience will be largely similar to what they’re accustomed to when frequenting the suites except they’ll just skip the private terminal be driven straight to their homes, hotels, or wherever they’re staying in Los Angeles. Even those flyers that have checked bags can skip baggage claim and use the service.

“If you’ve checked bags, you wait five minutes on average in the BMW while we retrieve your bags from the plane, put them in the trunk of your car, and then we drive you straight home,” Belouizdad said.

The service is currently only available when arriving on a domestic flight. PS has its own US Customs and Border Protection facilities that inbound arrivals can use but that requires a stop in the private terminal.

PS Direct
A BMV 705i of PS, the private terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

Planeside pickups have historically been a benefit of flying private but PS is the first to make it available for commercial flights in the US, an impressive feat considering the heightened security environment that exists at bustling international airports like LAX.

Read More: Private jet industry CEOs say business will boom as the wealthy abandon airlines and reveal what they’re doing now to take advantage

“We’re the only ones in the world, to my knowledge, that can do this,” Belouizdad said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I recently took 3 flights with Delta as an elite status holder and managed to snag $800 in free upgrades despite seat-blocking policies – here’s how

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

  • Having elite status on Delta typically means free first class upgrades for the most frequent flyers.
  • Fewer seats are available in premium cabins, however, thanks to Delta’s pandemic seat-blocking policy.
  • I took three flights on Delta and still got seven times worth the value of my ticket in upgrades.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Loyalty has its perks, even during a pandemic.

I earned elite status on Delta Air Lines in late 2019, just a few months before the pandemic grounded even the most frequent flyers. My first experiment flying with status in February 2020 earned me hundreds of dollars in free extras like upgrades to first class and more legroom seats.

Enjoying the perks of the status during the pandemic, however, has been harder as Delta is blocking middle seats and adjacent seats in first class. It’s an easy trade-off to make when it comes to safety but means fewer upgrades to the premium cabins.

Delta, like most major US airlines, extended its members’ elite status for an extra year and gave frequent flyers like me more time to enjoy the perks. On a recent trip, I took three Delta flights to see how far having status would get me, even as a lowly Silver Medallion as those in the first rung of the program are called.

I flew from Houston, Texas to New York via Salt Lake City and Los Angeles on a variety of aircraft to see just how much more I’d get from my fare by sticking with Delta during the pandemic.

Here’s what I found.

Having elite status on Delta comes with a variety of free perks ranging from first class upgrades to checked bags.

Delta Silver Medallion
Welcome email for Delta Silver Medallion status.

And as any elite will likely say, the upgrades are the most sought after as they can be the best bang for you buck and can instantly elevate a trip. Even Silver Medallions can get upgraded to first class, as I found on a February 2020 trip to Orlando.

first class Delta Air Lines

Read More: I took 3 Delta flights in one day after finally getting elite status to see if it’s really worth having — here’s what I discovered

Coming home from a trip in February, I booked three flights on Delta for a total of $139.50 which meant three opportunities for upgrades either into first class or Delta Comfort+, an extra legroom section of economy.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The real prize, however, would be to get an upgrade on the longest of my flights, from Los Angeles to New York. Delta classifies this route as “Delta One” and the Boeing 767-400 operating the flight featured brand-new first class seats.

Delta One

The upgrade window for Silver Medallion opens 24 hours before departure for each flight. But that didn’t stop me from checking the seat maps on my flights every day leading up to the flight to check my odds.

Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.
Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic

My first flight was from Houston to Salt Lake City on Delta’s Airbus A220-300, the newest aircraft in its fleet.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

With the new seat-blocking policy, the normally 30-seat Comfort+ cabin was reduced to 16 seats…

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

And first class was down from 12 seats to only six. I might’ve had a good chance to get upgraded into first class in normal times but it was seemingly impossible now.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

My flight was departing at 7:50 a.m. so I made sure to check in exactly at the 24-hour mark to see if I had scored the upgrade. The odds were quickly stacked against me as I soon found myself number nine out of nine for a first class upgrade with one seat available.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

I was able to snag a Comfort+ upgrade, however, valued at $45.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The upgrade yielded me a window seat in the second-row of the cabin. This normally would also mean being one of the first people on the plane but Delta now boards from the back to the front due to the pandemic.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

These seats offer 34 inches of pitch, giving me some extra room to stretch out during the three-hour flight to Utah.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Once airborne, flight attendants began the in-flight service. Comfort+ typically receives “premium” snacks but all economy passengers now receive a snack bag, with mine featuring Biscoff cookies and Goldfish.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Complimentary alcohol, however, is a perk that’s surprisingly survived the pandemic service cuts. It was a bit early for me so I held off but was shocked that I could order a beer and not a soda.

Delta Elite Status Day Trip
The alcohol menu on a Delta flight from Raleigh to Orlando.

While it wasn’t first class, the Comfort+ upgrade combined with the empty middle seat made for a great flight to Salt Lake City. And come time to deplane, I was off relatively quickly.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

My $139.50 ticket was now worth $184.50 thanks to the $45 upgrade.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

My next flight was from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, a quick one-hour hop on a slightly larger Boeing 737-900ER. The total number of available first class seats on this aircraft is 10, and 14 in Comfort+ under the seat blocking policy.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

I thought I had a better chance of a first class upgrade on this one but I was sadly mistaken. I was number five on the upgrade list out of five with three seats open.

Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.
Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic

I did manage to get another upgrade to Comfort+ pretty quickly after departure, valued at $24. Once again, I got a window seat with the middle seat open.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The aisle seat also ended up staying open, as luck would have it, giving me an entire row to myself. This upgrade was almost proving to be equal to first class.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The quick flight to Los Angeles meant only an hour to enjoy the upgrade but I did take advantage of the complimentary alcohol.

Flying on Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying on Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

And naturally, I was one of the first to “hop off the plane at LAX.” The total value of my $139.50 ticket was now $208.50 thanks to the $24 upgrade, with one flight to go.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The next flight was the big one, Los Angeles to New York on one of Delta’s largest jets.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

I was already upgraded to Comfort+ and that would’ve been a fine consolation. Comfort+ seats on this jet were the equivalent of domestic first class seats on Delta’s smaller jets.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

But I was striving for Delta One and the odds were in my favor as no seats were blocked for social distancing in the 34-seat premium cabin. I was 16 of 19 on the upgrade list leading up to departure.

Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.
Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic

I was hoping to get an early upgrade so I could use the Delta Sky Club, which is open to domestic Delta One passengers, but it was looking like I’d get the infamous gate upgrade.

Delta Sky Club
A Delta Sky Club at JFK Airport Terminal 4.

Delta sometimes tries to wait until the very last second to sell an upgrade and those on the upgrade list won’t know they’ve been upgraded until they literally scan their boarding passes.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

And that’s exactly what happened to me. I was assigned seat 8D in Delta One.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

First class was allowed to board first and I turned left into the immaculate cabin. Delta primarily uses this jet to fly to Europe and South America but the pandemic had luckily relegated it to primarily domestic routes like this one.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

My seat was away from the aisle and offered additional privacy.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

I immediately got to work playing with all of its features, including the big in-flight entertainment screen.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Among other amenities, the seat came with a pillow and comforter…

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Noise-canceling headphones…

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

And power outlets.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

It was safe to say that this was going to be a good flight.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

We quickly departed from Los Angeles and it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a typical first class flight. Even in Delta One, there were no hot towels, meals, or champagne, par for the course during the pandemic.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Flight attendants instead offered us the standard snack bag and some snack boxes. I chose the meat and cheese kit.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Complimentary alcohol was also on offer but nothing more than beer and wine.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

I settled in for the flight just fine and did my best to stay awake after an already long day so that I could enjoy the experience. Day quickly turned to night and the mood lights in the cabin activated, making for an incredibly relaxing ambiance.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

The in-flight entertainment screen had no shortage of selections and I watched Tenet and Citizen Kane all the way to New York.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Delta was charging $799 extra for this seat and I was able to get it for free. The new value of my $139.50 ticket was $1,007.50.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Would I have snagged this upgrade in normal times? Almost certainly not.

Flying Delta Air Lines during pandemic
Flying Delta Air Lines during the pandemic.

Getting a first class upgrade as a Silver Medallion proved to be harder during the pandemic than in normal times but getting at least one flight in the premium cabin made it all worth it.

Delta is “upgauging,” or placing larger aircraft, on more domestic routes that increase a frequent flyer’s chance of an upgrade but getting bumped to first class is few and far between for those lower in the program thanks to the seat-blocking policy. 

April 30, however, is the current expiration date for that policy (unless Delta extends it again) at which point it may be easier for elites to snag a first class seat. Until then, the best way to first class is to either buy a ticket in the cabin or seek out the airline’s largest aircraft. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

I flew on a $2 million ‘personal’ private jet that needs only one pilot and saw why its was among 2020’s most popular private jets

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

  • The Cirrus Vision Jet is among the newest personal private jets flying, and requires only one pilot to fly it.
  • The $2 million plane allows pilots to fly farther and faster with minimal additional training.
  • Proponents say it’s the perfect alternative to the airlines because of jet’s low operating costs, ease of use, and versatility.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Most perceptions of private aviation include chartering an expensive plane and spending thousands of dollars for just an hour of flight time. But a growing market in aviation is for personal private jets, planes that are small and simple enough that they can be flown by one person while being cheaper to operate than traditional jet aircraft.

One of the newest personal private jets on the market is the Cirrus Vision Jet. Having debuted in 2016, the aircraft comes in at a mere 30.7 feet long and 5.1 feet wide, making it one of the world’s smallest and cheapest private jets.

The base model of a first-generation Vision Jet costs just under $2 million with direct operating costs under $1,000 an hour. And that includes fuel and maintenance costs, according to Nassau Flyers, a Vision Jet operator based on Long Island, New York.

The entry-level aircraft is a jack-of-all-trades. The aerial equivalent of a luxury SUV, it’s ideal for loading up the family and flying down to Florida for the weekend, while a road warrior can use it to reach remote destinations and be home before the end of business.

The pandemic has only strengthened the case for aircraft like the single-engine Vision Jet with 73 models delivered in 2020 alone, the most of any business jet in its class, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

I went for a ride in and saw why it’s the perfect plane for the post-pandemic world.

Nassau Flyers, a high-end flight school at Long Island’s Republic Airport, operates a Cirrus Vision Jet for a local businessman.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight

It’s the flagship of the flight school, which prides itself on an all-Cirrus fleet on training aircraft for its clients as a Cirrus Training Center. Cirrus’ propeller aircraft are widely considered to be among Cadillacs of piston aircraft for their speed, comfort, and safety.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Nassau Flyers flight school in Farmingdale.

Source: Nassau Flyers

The tiny jet just barely stands out amid the school’s fleet of Cirrus aircraft, and that’s part of its appeal. The Vision Jet doesn’t require a large hangar to be stored in and can easily fit in the individual hangars used by Cessnas, Pipers, and other small aircraft.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Cirrus built the Vision Jet as the next step up for flyers of its piston aircraft. There are numerous similarities between the two types, including the cockpit configuration and the aircraft’s wings.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Most pilots at Nassau Flyers who set their sights on the Vision Jet often start off on the Cirrus training aircraft before making their way to the jet. The owner of this one uses it for business, visiting multiple remote cities in a single day.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

The Vision Jet is unique since it’s a single-engine aircraft. Most jet aircraft have two engines, one on each side, but the Vision Jet only has one engine, on top of the fuselage, which lowers operating and maintenance costs.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Our pilot for the day, Sean, normally files the jet by himself, as the owner is still in training.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

The owner previously used an SR-20 series aircraft to fly around the region for business but was able to expand his business up and down the Eastern Seaboard and beyond once he acquired the Vision Jet.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet and a Cirrus SR-20.

In addition to the pilot, the jet seats three people in this configuration, with two passenger seats in the back and one in the cockpit next to the pilot. Three more seats can be added in the back, bringing the total to six (not including the pilot).

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

With only two seats in the back, there’s plenty of legroom and room for luggage, golf clubs, or a pair of skies to fit in the cabin. This is with the copilot’s seat all the way back.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

There’s even enough room for a makeshift bed on longer trips.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The cabin is 4.1 feet tall so there’s not much room to stand up but the curvature of the fuselage makes the cabin feel larger when sitting as a passenger.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Source: Cirrus

An exterior-accessible storage compartment can also be found in the back of the aircraft.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

A carry-on bag can fit back here or a few smaller bags.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Powering the aircraft is a Williams International FJ33-5A engine, offering 1,846 pounds of thrust. It’s not a lot compared to an airliner but will get the jet to a top speed of around 300 knots with a range of about 800 miles.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Unlike traditional two-engine jet aircraft, pilots flying the vision jet need only a private pilot’s license and an add-on instrument rating. To fly a twin-engine aircraft, a multi-engine rating would be required.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Once pilots earn their private pilot license and instrument add-on rating, training on the jet is quick and can be done at one of Cirrus’ facilities, where it’s about a two-and-a-half-week process to get a type rating. Some choose to build more hours in the piston before moving to the Vision Jet.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

And like all Cirrus aircraft, the Vision Jet is equipped with a parachute to be deployed in case of an engine failure or other extreme circumstances where the aircraft cannot land safely. The chute is in the nose and totals the plane when deployed.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Newer models also offer a “Safe Return” add-on wherein the autopilot will land the plane if the pilot is unable.

Cirrus Vision Jet Auto landing 24
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

I hoped in the copilot seat for the short hop north since the best views are from the front. There are two seats in the cockpit, but the plane needs only one pilot, so anybody can sit up there.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Our initial flight plan was to go from Long Island to Martha’s Vineyard, but shortly before the flight our pilot noticed that there was bad weather and we changed our destination to Glens Falls, New York, near Lake George, at the last minute.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The speed at which we were able to change our entire plan for the day without delay was a testament to how versatile the aircraft is. With the possibility of a second wave to this pandemic, some states may go back into lockdown and travel plans may need to change at a moment’s notice.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Sean would be doing all the work this flight including flying and talking to air-traffic control. The plane is designed with this kind of flying in mind, evident in the fact that starting the engine on this $2 million plane is as easy as starting a car, with just the press of a button.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Nearly everything in the cockpit is controlled by touchscreen, and all checklists, charts, and airplane systems can be displayed on the two high-definition screens. There’s also a full autopilot system with everything except auto-throttle, which is available on newer Vision Jets.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Unlike commercial airliners, the overhead is rarely used on the Vision Jet.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Inside a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The jet is flown using a side stick, a popular Cirrus feature. Buttons on the stick can disengage the autopilot, control the trim, and activate the radio when it’s time to talk to air-traffic control.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

It took less than five minutes from hoping in the plane to taxing out to the runway.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

It was a rainy day on Long Island, so we filed an instrument flight plan to head north. The Vision Jet doesn’t have windshield wipers but any rain quickly flew off as we accelerated forward.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Take-off speed was 100 knots, and then we climbed at a rate of 1,500 feet per minute. It wasn’t before long that we were above the clouds on our way to 19,000.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The flight time to Glens Falls was only 45 minutes. By car it would take four hours.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The display screens showed our elapsed flying time, estimated time to the destination, and how much fuel we were burning per hour. For this flight, it was 90 gallons an hour with the Vision Jet holding just under 300 gallons.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

As the Vision Jet climbed into the upper altitudes, we encountered some icing on the wings but the aircraft’s boot system quickly got rid of it.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The skies were empty for our flight, a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, so we were given clearance to head straight to Glens Falls. After 20 minutes in cruise, it was already time to descend.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

There’s Lake George just off of the wing.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Glens Falls doesn’t see commercial service, so the only option for a business traveler heading there would be to drive or take an Amtrak train. The closest commercial airports were an hour away in Albany, New York, or Rutland, Vermont.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Commercial airports account for only a fraction of the total number of public airports in the US. According to Don Vogel, the owner of Nassau Flyers, there are about 500 commercial airports compared to 5,000 public-use airports, and all the Vision Jet needs is jet fuel and a few thousand feet of runway.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The low speeds that the Vision Jet is capable of meant we could make a close-in approach, about two miles from the runway. Whenever Sean turned the plane, a blue curved line would show the new direction of flight.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

And just like that, 45 minutes after we left Long Island we were a world away. Case in point, Upstate New York had begun opening weeks prior while Long Island was only a week into the first phase.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Another perk of flying private is getting to use the private terminals, which are normally empty and don’t require going through security checkpoints.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
The private terminal at Glens Falls Regional Airport.

I sat in the back for the next flight, a quick 25-minute hop to Worcester, Massachusetts. Flying commercial between these two cities is impossible.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The seats are narrow but comfortable leather nonetheless. There were all the creature comforts including USB charging ports.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

110v AC power outlets.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Personal reading lights and air-conditioning.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

There was even a drop-down monitor that a laptop could be connected to, or even loaded up with Netflix.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

WiFi wasn’t installed on this plane but newer models can have it. SiriusXM Satellite Radio is also a popular add-on.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

We quickly departed Glens Falls for Worcester without delay or need to refuel. The three-hour car journey between the two cities was reduced to 25 minutes of flying at 15,000 feet.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Though there was no flight attendant to serve snacks, there was plenty of legroom on the flight and the cabin is automatically pressurized. At the aircraft’s top altitude of 28,000 feet, the cabin altitude is 8,000 feet.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

The windows on the Vision Jet are also oversized, allowing for great views from the back of the plane.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

They don’t have shades but are UV-tinted, a feature found on newer aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

Worcester was below the clouds, so an instrument approach would be required to access the airport. For the Vision Jet, it was nothing the autopilot couldn’t handle.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

As the autopilot brought us down to the minimum altitude for the approach, the outline of the runway was shown on the primary display so that Sean could hand-fly if needed.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

At 600 feet, the runway came into view and it was smooth sailing all the way down.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

After a smooth landing in Worcester, we headed back to Long Island. Visiting those three cities in one day would’ve meant at least 10 hours of driving and we landed back in New York before lunchtime.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
Flying on a Cirrus Vision Jet.

“It’s really the availability of flight and the availability to go places, like the experience that we had today,” Vogel, a licensed pilot, told Business Insider referring to the benefits of having a Vision Jet and flying it yourself.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

“The big issue with the pandemic and with the airlines is that they have cut back,” Vogel continued. “If you’re going to Madison, Wisconsin, or someplace … Morgantown, West Virginia, or even down to Knoxville, those flights are disappearing.”

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

Airlines are reducing frequencies as they can’t fill the same number of flights they once could.

Airport social distancing practices
A departure board at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport on June 2.

“We definitely see an opportunity that I think more and more people are going to be looking at personal transportation,” Matt Bergwall, Cirrus’ director of the Vision Jet product line, told Business Insider.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

“We are already seeing a little bit of a demand for people who are just calling us up and saying, ‘Hey, I don’t want to actually learn how to fly. I see that you have this airplane. Tell me a little bit more,'” Bergwall said.

Cirrus Vision Jet Flight
A Cirrus Vision Jet.

With the pandemic creating uncertainty over travel plans, Cirrus is hoping that more people will want to take control of their travel by either getting pilot licenses or purchasing planes to be flown by reliable operators like Nassau Flyers.

Airlines are adjusting their schedules to the point where convenience is lost, especially when flying to remote destinations outside major cities. And while the hassles of flying on a commercial airline previously only included going through security and potential delays and cancellations, the concerns of health and safety now have to be considered.

As a true entry-level jet, it’s possible for a new pilot to be flying the Vision Jet with less than 100 hours of experience, though most prefer to build more hours on piston aircraft before doing so.

For business travelers who can’t afford to fly extensively on traditional executive aircraft, the Vision Jet is a more cost-effective alternative and can accomplish most of the same missions, even if it takes a little more time on longer hops.

Read the original article on Business Insider

AmEx just opened the second largest of its famously luxirous Centurion Lounges – see inside

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

  • American Express debuted its 14th Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport in February.
  • The more than 14,000 square foot lounge is the second-largest in the Centurion Lounge network.
  • Eligible patrons can use the lounge’s two bars, dining area, and game room and not have to spend a dime.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

American Express opened a new Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport in February, the latest in the financial services company’s growing network of 14 airport lounges that will soon include locations in London and Washington, DC.  

The Denver location covers more than 14,000 square feet above the airport’s Concourse C and is Amex’s second-largest lounge behind the newly-opened John F. Kennedy International Airport outpost. Its opening comes as increased spring and summer travel appears more likely thanks to a faster than anticipated vaccine rollout.

American Express now boasts the only true non-airline premium lounge in Denver, which until February only featured airline clubs and a USO location. Airline lounges have lagged behind private lounges in bringing back popular amenities, as Insider found during visits to the airport lounges of the top three US airlines, with this new location offering travelers a better alternative. 

Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders, as well as Delta Air Lines flyers with the Delta American Express Reserve card, can access the lounge and use it when departing from or connecting through Denver. Travelers whose final destination is the Mile High City, however, cannot use it upon their arrival.

Lounge patrons are also limited to a three-hour stay per American Express policy. Prior to the pandemic, these lounges were often filled from wall to wall, and they may soon be again. 

Take a look inside the Denver Centurion Lounge. 

Walk to the western edge of Concourse C at Denver airport and you’ll find the Centurion Lounge. You can’t miss it as the American Express name is displayed for all in the terminal below to see.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

It’s quite literally at the furthest reach of the airport, located at the far end of the concourse that’s the furthest from the main security checkpoint. Real estate at Denver airport, however, isn’t easy to come by for lounges so Amex had to take what it could get.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Guests can check-in at the main desk with their boarding pass, credit card, and identification, or use the American Express mobile application for contactless check-in.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Frequent Centurion Lounge patrons might notice something different about this lounge upon entry, and that’s because the Denver location doesn’t have the iconic blue door.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Here’s the blue door at the newly-opened lounge at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, for example.

Amex Centurion Lounge JFK Airport
Inside the Amex Centurion Lounge at JFK Airport.

But the similarly iconic living wall is still in place, filled with live plants.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The seating area is arranged in a horseshoe pattern above the concourse, with floor-to-ceiling windows on each side to give an open feeling.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

A total of 587 patrons can be accommodated in normal times but COVID-19 restrictions in Denver only permit a maximum of 150 people at any time.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

More patrons will be allowed in as Denver’s guidelines loosen, however.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Lounge chairs and couches line the interior windows, with seats blocked for distancing.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Larger tables are reserved for groups of three or more, to be seated by the lounge hosts.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The lounge does include a family room but it’s largely off-limits during the pandemic.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

One of the staples of the Centurion Lounge is complimentary alcoholic beverages and the Denver lounge doesn’t disappoint.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

This craft beer bar, one of two bars in the lounge, only serves up local brews.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Even if patrons are just passing through Denver, they’ll still get a taste of the local flavor. American Express’ mixologist, Jim Meehan, crafts a menu that’s specific to each destination.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The craft beer bar is located in the lounge’s game room featuring billiards, shuffleboard, and other tabletop games. like chess and checkers.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The games can be played during the pandemic but accessories are strictly controlled by staff, who also ensure they’re sanitized after each use.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Amex opted for the game room instead of a spa or fitness center.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Classic cocktails can also be ordered but the one drink that isn’t on the menu, however, is the “blue door” since this lounge doesn’t have the blue door.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Construction wasn’t drastically altered due to the pandemic as lounges are already built with privacy in mind.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Some of the solo seats were either spaced already or came with high, pandemic-friendly dividers.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

But there are changes in the service. Literature in the lounge, for example, has gone digital.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Plexiglass partitions can also be found at check-in and at the bars.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

And any food has to be served from lounge staff.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

For business travelers, amenities include a small business center with a printer…

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

And a conference table.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

For private phone calls, the lounge also offers one phone room.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The second bar is located at the bottom of the horseshoe, opposite the check-in area.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

This is where most of the cocktails will be crafted, also at no cost to patrons.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Centurion cardholders, AmEx’s “black card,” also receive special perks like Veuve Clicquot champagne.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Digital flight information signage can be found throughout the space so passengers can keep an eye on their flights without leaving the lounge.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The dining area then features classic tables, chairs, and benches for when it’s time to enjoy a meal.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Those wanting to plane spot from the lounge would be ideally seated by the window.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The dining area windows face south and overlook the Southwest gates below. Just across the ramp is the sprawling United Airlines concourse.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

On the menu for lunch on the day of our visit was chestnut soup, grilled chicken with salsa verde, Pomodoro di pasta, tiramisu, and berries and cream.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Plates are served on trays and given to patrons.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

My tour was after hours but I did manage to sample some of the food, including the Tiramisu. True to reputation, the meal didn’t disappoint.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The lounge also offers a pasta bar during the afternoon and a Nutella crepe bar for breakfast.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Coffee and tea can be found at one of these stations, spread across the lounge. An attendant will also serve the drinks as well.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Overall, this lounge is a great reason to get to the airport early.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

The pandemic hasn’t impacted the iconic Centurion Lounge service too much and nothing beats free food and drink while at the airport.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Centurion Lounge without this iconic scene. This chair and art pair can be found at Amex lounges across the network.

American Express Centurion Lounge Denver
American Express’s Denver Centurion Lounge.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Private jet firm Vista Global continues its rapid US growth with a new deal to acquire Apollo Jets

VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500
A VistaJet Bombardier Global 7500.

  • Vista Global is planning to acquire Apollo Jets in a deal announced Thursday. 
  • The acquisition will give Vista Global’s XO access to Apollo Jet’s roster of 4,000 clients.
  • Vista will also offer aircraft management services through air carrier Talon Air. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Vista Global on Thursday announced a deal to acquire private aviation firm Apollo Jets in the latest bid to grow its US market share.

The acquisition will give Vista around 4,000 Apollo Jets clients and a fleet of aircraft currently operated by Talon Air, an Apollo Jets company. Vista sees the opportunity to convert Apollo’s customers into XO members and subscribers, paying extra for better rates and perks like complimentary aircraft upgrades. 

“The Apollo acquisition reinforces Vista Global’s unrivaled commitment to providing every business aviation client with the best value flying solutions around the world,” Thomas Flohr, Vista Global’s founder and chairman, said in a statement. 

Growth by acquisition has been Dubai-based Vista Global’s primary means of expansion in the US, starting with the purchase of XOJET in 2018 and continuing with JetSmarter in 2019. The two companies were merged under the Vista umbrella to create XO, solidifying Vista Global as one of the largest private aviation firms in the country.

In October, Vista also acquired Wisconsin-based Red Wing Aviation and its fleet of Cessna aircraft. The 15 light jets were incorporated into the XO fleet to provide customers with a more cost-effective option compared to the firm’s larger Cessna Citation X and Bombardier Challenger super-midsize aircraft

XO offers five types of membership that range from no charge to $1,000 per month. A free membership still allows customers to book on-demand private charters but charges a $395 per flight booking service while a paid membership waives that fee and includes dynamic pricing. 

Apollo Jets, alternatively, does not operate on a membership-based model and the firm’s charter brokers often receive a commission on the flight they book for customers.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw new travel trends better suited to larger operators like XO. Current Apollo clients will benefit, for example, from XO’s fleet of “floating” aircraft, or planes that have no fixed base and can perform one-way flights for a fraction of the cost that traditional operators can offer. 

First-time flyers are also entering the industry at a record pace and premium operators like XO are positioning themselves to attract as many new clients as possible. Dynamic pricing and technologically-savvy operations were identified by industry experts interviewed by Insider as two key factors to excel in the new era. 

Seat-sharing flights are also offered by XO where flyers only pay for their seat instead of the entire aircraft to help bring costs down, as Insider found during a tour of a 16-seat Bombardier CRJ200 aircraft used for flights between White Plains, New York and Miami

Vista will now be able to offer aircraft management services through Talon Air. The Farmingdale, New York-based Part 135 carrier boasts heavy jets like the Gulfstream G550 and Challenger 604, as well as the largest fleet of super-midsize Beechcraft Hawker 4000 aircraft in the US, that XO clients will be able to book.

Talon Air’s current aircraft owners and clients are confidential but the firm’s roster boasts the likes of Lebron James and Martha Stewart

Vista expects the acquisition to be completed in the first quarter of 2021 and projects flight activity will grow by 20% following the deal. The completed deal will continue Vista’s track record of at least one acquisition per year since 2018, which shows no signs of slowing. 

“I believe this is just the beginning of consolidation in our industry and Vista Global is leading this market transformation,” Flohr said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why an airline executive is excited about Textron Aviation’s new King Air 360, the next generation of a 50-year-old plane

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

  • Textron Aviation unveiled the King Air 360 in August with upgrades for passengers and pilots.
  • Cabins now feel wider, and the cockpit has advanced systems like autothrottle and digital pressurization.
  • Advanced Air’s Levi Stockton explains why he’s excited about the plane, even if his firm isn’t purchasing one. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

An aviation fan favorite just got an upgrade. 

Textron Aviation is continuing the legacy of the iconic Beechcraft King Air family of aircraft and debuted its latest iteration in August. Starting at $7.9 million, the King Air 360 features advanced onboard systems aimed at easing the flying experience.

“The Beechcraft King Air 360 builds on decades of renowned versatility and reliability in the King Air family,” Ron Draper, Textron Aviation’s president and CEO, said, “and this upgrade further elevates it with the aircraft’s superior features and engineering advancements designed to create an enhanced flying experience for passengers and crew alike.”

Any frequent private aircraft flyer is sure to recognize the King Air as its been faithfully flying since the 1960s. Aircraft in the product line have been used by entities ranging from private airlines to national governments.

Levi Stockton is the president of Hawthorne, California-based Advanced Air, an aircraft management firm and private charter airline that operates 22 aircraft, including nine King Airs. He recently got a first-hand look at the King Air 360 during a recent visit to Textron Aviation’s Kansas factory.

Here’s why he’s excited about the Beechcraft King Air 360. 

Stockton has been flying King Air’s since 2005. The King Air 350, the family’s largest passenger model, is also the flagship of his firm’s scheduled airline division.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

“The King Air is really an amazing airplane that does what is advertised,” Stockton told Insider.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

And from what he’s seen, the King Air 360 is no different. Textron Aviation’s latest turboprop has room for up to 11 passengers and a range of 1,806 nautical miles.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Source: Textron Aviation

It can tackle the short hops like New York-Boston or Los Angeles-Las Vegas while also able to stretch its legs on longer routes like Chicago-Miami or Denver-Philadelphia, when conditions allow.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

The true improvements are on the inside, however, including in the passenger cabin that can seat up to 11 passengers. Technically it’s same as its predecessor’s, but Stockton says that the cabin liners have been made thinner to give the cabin a more spacious feel.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Source: Textron Aviation

The windows have manual shades instead of elaborate electronic shades or dimmers.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

And the side tables have been elevated so passengers have more knee space. The improvements may seem basic but likely come as a result of customer feedback, Stockton said.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

The Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion cockpit has one of the aircraft’s greatest improvements, the addition of an autothrottle system for pilots.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

The system allows pilots to set a speed and the aircraft will automatically adjust the throttles to accommodate, reducing pilot workload and ensuring the plane is running at peak performance.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

“You’re going to allow the airplane to always be right at the right performance numbers rather than trying to get the throttles just perfect,” Stockton said, adding that this can help prevent engine issues and keep maintenance costs down.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Cabin pressurization is also automated on the new aircraft, further reducing pilot workload. Aircraft cruising at 27,000 feet will also be pressurized as low as 5,960 feet, Stockton said, decreasing air travel’s effect on the body for passengers.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Textron also unveiled the King Air 360ER, offering longer ranges of up to 2,692 nautical miles. That’s enough range to fly from Los Angeles to New York.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Source: Textron Aviation

Up to 15 passengers can be seated in the King Air 360ER.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Source: Textron Aviation

Stockton said that King Air has carrying capabilities that outweigh even some jet aircraft. Up to 15 passengers can fit in the King Air 360ER while most light and midsize jets can’t, even if the turboprop isn’t as fast.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

And cargo carriers can also use the plane to transport freight.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Both aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A engines, offering a maximum cruise speed of over 300 knots.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Source: Textron Aviation

Textron also unveiled an upgraded variant of its King Air 250 aircraft with the King Air 260.

Beechcraft King Air 260
A Beechcraft King Air 260.

Source: Textron Aviation

The slightly smaller aircraft can seat up to nine passengers and fly a maximum range of 1,720 nautical miles at comparable speeds as the King Air 360.

Beechcraft King Air 260
A Beechcraft King Air 260.

Source: Textron Aviation

The same autothrottle and digital pressurization systems are also available in the King Air 260.

Beechcraft King Air 260
A Beechcraft King Air 260.

Stockton said that making the King Air faster will be something he looks for in future variants.

Beechcraft King Air 260
A Beechcraft King Air 260.

So will Advanced Air be placing the next order for the King Air 360? No. Stockton’s firm typically manages aircraft purchased by other companies or wealthy individuals and does not typically make purchases itself.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

But Stockton does expect to be managing a King Air 360 within the next few years for a client, and is excited to see the iconic aircraft continuing to be updated.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

“It just shows that this particular airplane is going to be around for a long time,” Stockton said.

Beechcraft King Air 360
A Beechcraft King Air 360.

Read the original article on Business Insider