Owning my own jet vs. flying commercial
Posted by John McHale
On the flight down to my first National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) show in Atlanta this week, I contemplated what it would be like to own my jet -- a Gulfstream or Embraer Phenom jet. Then I remembered I'm a journalist -- in other words not rich. So I'm stuck flying commercial, which can be good and bad.
The good is the occasional low fare, the safety of air travel in the U.S., and meeting interesting people. The bad is the myriad of ways airlines look to charge you, their bizarre rules, lost luggage, etc.
My most recent headache involved a trip to Germany on Lufthansa . I called the night before my return trip to the U.S. to reserve my seat. I was given 52C. The next day I get to the airport and was told I was put on standby. Of course I asked HOW CAN THAT BE? I had a seat, who moved me to standby?
Apparently Lufthansa can bump your seat if they oversell their aircraft. Essentially it becomes the German Southwest overnight, by making it first come, first serve to the airport.
Seems pretty silly, doesn't it? It was especially insane to the guy behind me in the standby line. He bought his ticket and reserved his seat in January! Funny thing, the Lufthansa agent neglected to tell him and me that the seats were not guaranteed. All we got was "enjoy your flight."
Despite all that silliness, I did enjoy my flight. I still got an aisle seat and lucked out with an interesting seat mate -- a recent Boston College law school graduate returning from a trek through Europe.
She had some crazy stories from her vacation. The strangest had to be the one about moped-riding, wristwatch thieves in a less elegant part of Naples, Italy. Apparently they are quite common and dangerous, ripping women's Rolexes right off their wrist as they speed by.
Yes, I've gotten off topic a bit, but the moped thieves story really stuck with me.
Back to business jets. I still want one. I put my business card in a bowl at a Boeing press conference, hoping to win one -- no dice. It was a model airplane, but I have to start somewhere.
Maybe I'll have better luck on the show floor tomorrow.