Flying private is not reserved for the rich and famous anymore. Thanks to a new concept in air travel, a seat on a private jet compared to a trip in coach could actually save you money.
My seat belt clicked effortlessly into its slot, and I could clearly hear the pilots’ conversation through my headset.
“Ready for take off,” said Mark Neubauer, pilot and cofounder of Air Unlimited.
I took a deep breath, and our Beechcraft King Air 200 headed for the sky.
There wasn’t unlimited Dom Perignon, but this level of luxury was a new high for me.
This was my first trip on a private plane. We just took it for a quick flight, but it was long enough to realize what I’ve been missing all my life.
“The flight is smooth,” said Charles “Chick” Gregg, pilot and cofounder of Air Unlimited.
Air Unlimited out of the Sanford International Airport is one of the first of its kind in air travel.
“Passengers buy individual seats. That’s how it’s so affordable,” said Neubauer.
The website, www.flyairunlimited.com, is similar to most commercial airlines.
“You get a ticket right online,” Neubauer said.
Unlike other air services, Air Unlimited flies its scheduled flights even if just one seat is booked.
The company owns several other aircrafts for different passenger needs including two Cessna 421s and a Citation Mustang.
The company only flies to two destinations currently — two airports in the Bahamas and two in Key West.
Tickets to Key West run about $199 per way. That includes 40 pounds of luggage, valet parking at the airport and light refreshments.
Other major airlines can run up to $500 for a round-trip ticket for the same flight and that’s without parking.
Oh, and the leg room would be comfortable for LeBron James.
Gregg and Neubauer say they are looking to add more locations as they grow their following.
Another big difference between flying private versus going through a major airport is the time between arrival and take off.
“You could be in the air in 20 to 30 minutes,” said Gregg.
Most major airports suggest you arrive two hours before any domestic flight and three hours before any flight heading out of the country.
Once you’re the air you can choose to wear a headset to hear the pilots communicate with each other, which adds another element to the experience.
“You get to know the pilots,” Gregg said.
If the idea of sharing your plane with “others” makes you cringe, you can charter a plane for you and your homies.
Quoted charters are based on an hourly rate, and flight availability differs depending on the season.
Other similar services, like JetSuite, set passengers up on private jet flights with empty seats at a lower cost.
Another new concept that could be a cheaper way to fly private if you fly often is a membership plan.
Air Unlimited is having a flash sale on Dec. 19. They’re offering guests $100 off of a round-trip flight from Orlando-Sanford International to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas.
Tickets will be good for 6 months from the date of purchase.
Visit Air Unlimited for more information.
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Written by: Kayla O’Brien – Contact Reporter for the Orlando Sentinel