By Stephen Myers
An old phrase says, “Getting there is half the battle.”
Getting there should be half the fun… it just depends how you are getting there.
There are many ways to travel from Point A to Point B – vehicles, trains, boats, airplanes, bicycles or by foot. The fastest, of course, is an airplane.
Anyone who has flown commercially in the past year quickly realizes that air travel is not as fun as it was a generation ago. The aviation industry is evolving. Commercial airlines are transporting less than half of the passengers they did just one year ago. The perks of flying, like free carry-on baggage and in-flight snacks, are disappearing.
Meanwhile, private charter services are growing exponentially. They have brought fun, as well as convenience, back to flying.
“There’s no comparison,” said Chris Fraga after a recent private flight with Elite Jets. “You just show up five minutes before takeoff. It’s efficient, easy, safe and fun.”
A wealth manager from Naples, Fraga recently evaluated his options for a short trip. Fraga and seven others were traveling to see his godson, a football player for Northwestern University, play in the Citrus Bowl. Kickoff time was 1 p.m. in Orlando. Fraga evaluated his three travel options:
- Drive: The trip is three-and-a-half hours each way, but likely longer given persistent traffic jams around Disney World, Universal Studios and downtown Orlando’s construction zone. With a party of eight, they would need to rent a van or drive separately. The mid-afternoon kickoff time meant they would have to depart pre-dawn and return after sunset, or stay overnight in a hotel.
- Fly commercially: With no direct flights from RSW, he would need to connect through a hub like Atlanta, Charlotte or Cleveland. The total flight time, including a layover, would exceed five hours each way. Commercial airlines have limited flight availability, so Fraga’s party likely would have to leave a day before the game and return a day later, requiring two nights in a hotel.
- Fly privately: The flight from Naples Airport to Orlando Executive Airport would be 35 minutes. Fraga’s traveling party could drive a few minutes to Naples Airport and enjoy free parking. Upon arrival in Orlando, it would just be a 10-minute shuttle ride to Camping World Stadium. After the game, the return route would be just as quick.
Fraga chose to fly privately. He reserved Elite Jets’ Embraer Legacy 500, a luxury jet featuring high-speed Wi-Fi, personalized temperature controls, recliner-like leather massaging seats and a digital entertainment system to watch movies, TV shows and news. Elite Jets passengers can also pre-select snacks and drinks, enjoy a fully stocked bar and even request a personal cabin attendant.
“It was an exciting day – my godson’s last college football game,” Fraga said. “We wanted to make it special. Everything about this trip was perfect. The jet was beautiful and well-maintained. The pilots were professional, positive and fun. The whole experience was amazing from start to finish.”
And Northwestern won.
Fraga isn’t the only leisure traveler in Southwest Florida to fly privately after considering their travel options. Below are four special occasions when private travel is a great choice:
The Big Game
Scoring tickets to championship-level events is a victory in itself, so celebrating aboard a luxury jet is icing on the cake. Sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup and Daytona 500 or Indy 500 lend themselves to VIP treatment.
In less than two hours, golfers can be on the tee or watching PGA tournaments at Augusta National, Pinehurst and TPC Sawgrass. Southwest Florida is home to several beautiful courses, but flying privately with a group of golfing buddies makes a trip that much more enjoyable.
Bachelor or Bachelorette Parties
Some of America’s top destinations to let it all hang out are just a short flight from Naples. Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City and New Orleans are fun destinations for a girls’ or guys’ weekend. Las Vegas is just four hours away.
Getting away from it all sometimes is the best medicine. Couples can rekindle their romance by booking a private charter to stay at a secluded log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains, a beachfront bungalow in the Caribbean or plantation home on Hilton Head Island.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephen Myers is executive vice president of Elite Jets Charters, a Naples-based company with a fleet of four Phenom 300 jets, one Legacy 500 jet and one Bell 407 helicopter.