Dear fellow A.Netters,
Welcome to my 30th trip report, which covers a major milestone in my life as an aviation enthusiast—my first flight on a private jet!
As a child growing up in the US state of Montana in the mid-1980s, I recall seeing the occasional old-model Citation or Sabreliner on the ramp at Gallatin Field Airport. Even at a young age, I knew these little jets were particularly special, and I longed to someday fly in one of them. As I gained more understanding of aviation and the ways of the world, I learned that these aircraft were exclusively for the rich and powerful. Still, I always hoped to have the opportunity to experience such an aircraft at some point in my life.
As luck would have it, I eventually had that chance, when an opportunity arose in the summer of 2013 to fly on a private Embraer Legacy 600 from Hamburg, Germany to Brussels, Belgium. This opportunity came about suddenly, and in connection with a very stressful and high-pressure period in my life. Nonetheless, I was thrilled to finally experience a flight on a private jet.
In this report I have chosen to withhold some information regarding the exact dates of the flight, the purpose of the trip, the operator of the aircraft and the tail number. There was nothing specifically confidential about this flight, and I do feel that I can share my experiences in the form of a trip report. However, discretion is important in this case, and I also want to protect the identities of those on board. I have included a considerable number of photographs, but I have blurred parts of the images which could reveal certain information. Thank you for your understanding of my situation and that I prefer not to provide the full details which I would normally provide in a trip report involving a normal airline flight.
I hope you enjoy the report and, as always, comments and feedback are most welcome!
Date: Summer of 2013
Route: Hamburg, Germany (HAM
) – Brussels, Belgium (BRU
Aircraft Type: Embraer Legacy 600
Aircraft Operator: Withheld
Aircraft Registration: Withheld
Approximate Departure: 10:00 EDT
Approximate Arrival: 11:00 EDT
Flight Time: 1:00
Distance: 300 miles (483 kilometers)
Cruising Altitude: FL300 (9,144 meters)
Load: 9/12 passengers; 2 flight attendants; 2 pilots
TIME TO FLY
We arrived at the general aviation facility at Hamburg airport approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled departure. The ability to save time and operate on one’s own schedule is one aspect of the private jet scene that is a real luxury!
Upon entering the building we had to pass through a small security checkpoint, but as there are relatively few passengers who travel by private jet, there was no line, and it took no more than a couple of minutes for our whole group of nine people to clear the checkpoint. Our suitcases were taken immediately following the security checkpoint and transported directly to the aircraft.
We then waited a couple of minutes in the departure lounge before we were escorted to a small bus which drove us across the tarmac to our waiting Embraer Legacy 600.
Before boarding the aircraft, our group posed for a few pictures in front of the airplane, which were taken by the very friendly and enthusiastic captain. I also managed to snap a few of my own photos of the aircraft prior to climbing aboard.
Upon entering the aircraft, the two flight attendants were waiting just inside the door. However, they did not offer a particularly warm welcome. I greeted them and said “good morning” and all I received in response was a slight nod. I have consistently received a much better welcome when boarding Ryanair flights! For a private jet service, I was expecting a bit more hospitality.
I made my way through the cabin and eventually settled in the aft section, in a comfortable, rear-facing seat on the port side of the airplane. Directly in front of me was a forward-facing chair, which one of my colleagues soon occupied. To my left, across the aisle, was a sofa which could accommodate up to three people; however, none of us used the sofa, which remained unoccupied for the duration of the flight. Below are some images of the cabin from the perspective of my seat.
There were some fresh strawberries waiting at our seats, which was a nice touch.
The interior of the aircraft was impressive! The fabrics used in the walls, seats and carpeting, the finishing around the edges, the layout of the cabin, and everything else, were truly luxurious. There were vases with fresh flowers, fruit baskets and plenty of reading material in the form of current newspapers and magazines from across Europe and beyond. Here is an example of the finishing next to my seat.
Looking out the window, another Embraer business jet was parked next to us awaiting its next mission.
A few minutes after boarding, the door was sealed, the engines were ignited and we began our taxi to the runway.
After a ten-minute taxi, we took to Runway 23. The engines revved to takeoff thrust and we powerfully but smoothly accelerated down the centerline before rotating into the blue skies above Hamburg.
As we climbed away from the airport, some views of the Hamburg city center, crisscrossed by its many waterways, and notably the Elbe River, appeared off the left wing.
We passed above Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport, where Airbus carries out some of its operations. Part of the airport is visible in the next photo, just behind the wing.
As we continued our climb, my colleague seated across from me was kind enough to take my photo. Hidden behind the blur, I was grinning from ear to ear; not a bad seat to be in!
The aircraft soon levelled off at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). One of the flight attendants appeared and unfolded a table from the panel next to our seats. She placed a white table cloth over it, then disappeared without uttering a single word. Once again, I thought one of the features of a private jet service was personalized service, with a smile or at least a few words offered by the flight attendant.
I was expecting the flight attendant to return shortly to take our orders for the beverage and breakfast service, so I decided to go quickly to the lavatory to wash my hands. The lavatory facilities in this jet were also impeccable, as expected.
From the lavatory I returned to my seat and settled in once again. I snapped a photo of the wing slicing through the upper atmosphere and thought about how remarkable flying is, while realizing that this is the case regardless of whether one is on a private jet, or the back row of a jam-packed Ryanair flight. Of course, my seat was more comfortable on this occasion; but the point is that every flight is, and should be considered, a privilege.
Although I was enjoying every minute of this flight, I was disappointed that despite the tablecloth in front of us, as of 40 minutes into this hour-long flight, the flight attendant still had not returned to offer us anything. This was despite the fact that our colleagues in the other section of the cabin had already been served beverages and a full breakfast. My colleague across from me, who was facing forward and had a view to the front of the cabin, finally waved and caught the attention of the flight attendant.
The flight attendant made her way to our seats, and my colleague stated that we would like to be offered something as well. She replied by saying: “I forgot to serve you something before, but I think there is still time”. Again, I would like to emphasize how thrilled I was to be on this flight, and to experience such a luxurious jet. However, I was astonished at how bad the service from the flight attendants was. On this hour-long flight, there were two flight attendants and nine passengers. That means each flight attendant had to care for 4.5 passengers, and apparently that was too much for them to handle.
In any case, my colleague ordered an orange juice, while I ordered a coffee with cream. A few minutes later, the flight attendant returned with two orange juices, but no coffee.
I thanked her as she placed the juices on the table and inquired about my coffee. She looked annoyed as she headed back toward the galley. A few minutes later—about 15 minutes until landing—she returned again with my coffee and set it on the table without saying so much as a word. She also brought a coffee for my colleague, although he had never ordered one in the first place.
Moreover, we were not offered anything to eat, despite the fact that the other seven passengers were served breakfast. I later asked my colleague, who had arranged this flight, whether she had ordered differentiated service for some colleagues compared to others. She informed me that the catering was supposed to be the same for all of us. In short, the fact that my colleague and I, who happened to be sitting in the aft section of the airplane, received such terrible service was solely due to the incompetence of the flight attendants.
By this point we were well underway with our descent, and I felt rushed to finish my coffee. I followed our path on the screen at the back of the cabin as we turned toward the southeast in preparation for a westbound approach to Brussels airport.
Thanks to the playback feature on Flightradar24.com, I was later able to capture an image of the precise route we took between Hamburg and Brussels.
We dropped lower towards a scattered cloud layer and the ride began to be a bit rough.
Meanwhile, the first stage of flaps dropped from the trailing edge.
The flight attendant rushed back to our seats, hastily collected our dishes and stowed the table in preparation for landing. We made a right turn to the west and stabilized on final approach.
We glided the final distance towards a smooth landing on Runway 25 Left.
The aircraft exited the runway to the right and taxied north past Terminal B, then west, taxiing the length of Terminal A and onward towards the private aviation facilities.
We reached our parking position and the door was opened within seconds. Upon exiting the aircraft, the two flight attendants stood idly by the door and did not say a word to us as we deplaned.
I was very sad to leave this luxurious jet, but thankful for the opportunity to have had this experience. Once on the tarmac, I took two more quick photos.
We were immediately greeted a few meters from the aircraft by two vehicles which transported us across the apron, through the perimeter gate and to our waiting chauffeur service for the ride into Brussels.
This was obviously a special flight for me, as it fulfilled my longstanding wish to fly on a private jet. It was an opportunity that does not present itself every day, and I was thrilled to finally have this experience.
I can certainly see the allure of private jet services for those who can afford them. The ability to adapt the flight to one’s own specific schedule, the luxurious cabin and the amenities of a private jet, and the personalized service, are all compelling points.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this particular operator failed miserably on the third point. Not only did I and my colleague not receive any form of personalized service, but the level of service we did receive was significantly worse that what I would have expected in economy class on a regular airline. Sure, the orange juice (which I never ordered) and the coffee (which came with barely enough time left in the flight to drink it) were served in a proper glass and a ceramic cup, respectively. But for the price which was paid to this operator to perform this flight, including the onboard services, it was absolutely unacceptable for the flight attendants to simply “forget” to provide a proper service to two out of their nine passengers. If and when I am in the market to charter a private jet in the future, I will specifically avoid this particular operator.
All other aspects of the flight were superb, and I would like to reiterate how much it meant to me to finally experience a flight on a private jet. It is an experience I will never forget, and one I hope to have again in the future.
As a final point, I would like to restate my earlier point that flying is always a privilege. A private jet is a special way to travel, but the wonder of flight is, to me, just as apparent from the lowliest seat on a discount carrier. It will continue to be a thrill for me each and every time I take to the skies.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this report!
My other reports on Airliners.net can be seen at:
Prop-Hopping In Paradise: KOA-OGG-KOA (by BZNPilot Aug 17 2013 in Trip Reports)
Lufthansa's Rocky Mountain High? BZN-DEN-FRA (by BZNPilot Mar 9 2013 in Trip Reports)
Transatlantic Longhaul: FRA-SFO-BZN On UA (by BZNPilot Feb 8 2013 in Trip Reports)
Iceland Unexpectedly: SEA-KEF-BRU On FI (by BZNPilot Aug 22 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Prop Hop To The Pacific: Horizon Air Q400 (by BZNPilot Aug 19 2012 in Trip Reports)
Big Apple To Big Sky Country On Delta/Skywest (by BZNPilot Apr 30 2012 in Trip Reports)
Farewell CO - A Transatlantic First And Last (by BZNPilot Apr 23 2012 in Trip Reports)
Short & Long On LH: BRU-MUC-IAD, DCA-BOS-FRA-BRU (by BZNPilot Oct 30 2011 in Trip Reports)
Day Tripping: 3 Flights, 3 Countries, Many Pics (by BZNPilot Jun 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
Trans-Atlantic Part 2: BZN-DEN-OKC-IAD-GVA-BRU (by BZNPilot Dec 3 2010 in Trip Reports)
Trans-Atlantic Part 1: BRU-ATL-SLC-BZN On DL (by BZNPilot Nov 15 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Bee-Line To Madrid: SN’s A319 & B733 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 13 2010 in Trip Reports)
YVR-PDX-BFI: Horizon + SeaPort's PC-12 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
Day Tripping: DCA-DTW-MKE-DCA On NW/YX (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
BZN-IAD On Skywest/Delta (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
DCA-SEA + Boeing Field + Holiday Travel Odyssey (by BZNPilot Jan 3 2009 in Trip Reports)
CDG-FRA-IAD On AF/UA (Part 2, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-ORD-FRA-CDG On UA/LH/AF (Part 1, Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Nov 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
Planes & Trains To Montreal (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 18 2008 in Trip Reports)
IAD-DEN-BZN-ORD-DCA On UA Biz/Y (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Sep 12 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC-9+A320+738s On NW/DL To MT (pics) (by BZNPilot Aug 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
DC To Montana On NW (many Pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 15 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-ORD-DCA On UA In Coach (pics) (by BZNPilot Jun 14 2008 in Trip Reports)
HKG-MNL-HKG On CX (Business) W Pics (by BZNPilot Feb 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Manila-Caticlan-Manila For New Years (Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
MRY-SFO-HKG On UA (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 2 2008 in Trip Reports)
DCA-PHL-SFO (with Pics) (by BZNPilot Jan 29 2008 in Trip Reports)
Northwest Tri-Jets To Germany In 1999 (Many Pics) (by BZNPilot Feb 5 2010 in Trip Reports)
Lama Chopper In The Montana Mountains (w Pics) (by BZNPilot Jul 21 2008 in Trip Reports)