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A Day Out in Geneva by Private Jet *Legacy 650* & British Airways!

A Day Out in Geneva by Private Jet *Legacy 650* & British Airways!

Old Jul 16, 16, 3:26 pm
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A Day Out in Geneva by Private Jet *Legacy 650* & British Airways!

So after many months of going back and forth about joining JetSmarter, I decided to hit the bullet and sign up for a year of their new "Access Membership". Normally $3,900 per year + $1950 initiation fee, I was offered a promotional rate which waived the initiation fee.

For those of you that aren't aware JetSmarter is probably the largest of the new "Uber" style of Private Jets. Up until a few months ago they offered just one membership tier (it shifted prices but averaged around $9k-$10k a year) which included unlimited flights on empty legs, along with seats on "Jet Shuttles" that go from various destinations in the US and Europe using a variety of aircraft (with many US transforms being done by Gulfstreams). They also up until recently included helicopter transfers in NY and Chicago.

SFO777 was a member from almost the very start until just recently and has posted some excellent TRs and views/opinions of the service.

Many people (including me) question the profitability of this sort of a model. Even if you only averaged one seat per month on a NY-LA GIV shuttle. That's 12 private jet flights cross country + 12 helicopter transfers for only $9k. A heck of a deal. Many people average more.

Now as of earlier this month JetSmarter has introduced three membership tiers.

Access (Social) - $3,990 per year + $1950 initiation
- Unlimited shared empty legs (2-4 seats)

Smart - $9990 per year + $4950 initiation
- Unlimited shared empty legs (2-6 seats)
- Unlimited jet shuttles (1 transcon or 2 short reservations at a time)
- $149 helicopter transfers in NY and Chicago

Sophisticated - $39,900 per year + $4950 initiation.
-Unlimited shared empty legs (2-6 seats)
-Unlimited jet shuttles (2 transcon or 4 short -reservations at a time)
-Free helicopter transfers in NY and Chicago
- $20k credit to create one-off shuttles or private charter

JetSmarts New Membership Tiers

I'm still suspicious about their business model and profitability , and it has a very start-up vibe (along with sometime horrendous "look at me" marketing) but I figured for $3.9k for one year, it would be a great way to see Europe (in combination with avois), and take some friend's along for the ride. The European shuttle service wasn't as intriguing to me as they are mainly done on small planes with the exception of Moscow and Luton is a bit of a trek. So I went with the unlimited Empty legs or "Jet Deals" only access membership. I was assured that if I chose to upgrade my membership it would be prorated based on my elapsed time. ��

The downside of empty legs is that they only post on the app 12-36 hours in advance, so planning is difficult. Which means buying repositioning flights could therefore be an issue. That being said British Airways have some amazing redemption deals using Avios in Europe with generally good last minute availability.

In Europe JetSmarter seems to use three main operators for their empty legs:

-Air Hamburg
-Globe Air

While Air Hamburg offer a range of aircraft from light to heavy, Blink and Globe use exclusively citation mustangs.

I purchased membership on a Friday afternoon, and saw the very next morning was a flight from London to Geneva on a Legacy 650 heavy jet. I scoped the BA website and found an avois seat on the return later that night for 4,500 miles + $22. Done.

It took a couple of hours from booking to get a confirmation from JetSmarter, but their rep was very helpful.

I almost made my first mistake however by almost showing up at the wrong airport. A glitch in their app mean if you put say "London Luton" in your preferred airport list, all London departures will say London (Luton) in the tag line even if they are leaving from other London airports. If you click through however it shows the correct airport, and I eventually noticed on the confirmation.

A 8:15 departure from Farmborough airport meant taking an early departure from Waterloo at 615am. With private travel, you can show up almost right before departure. However with JetSmarters hefty no-show fee, I didn't want to risk this. I arrived at Farmborough station just after 7am and called an Uber to take me to TAG aviation, the FBO for this Air Hamburg charter to Geneva.

Image Courtesy of PrivateFly

Arrived around 45 minutes before the flight, and 3 of the 6 passengers today were already there. TAG has a huge facility at Farmborough airport and it's one of the nicest private terminals I've gone through. Lots of eye candy (jets) on the to ogle on the tarmac while we waited.

Awaiting Gulfstream (Not Our Plane)

Around 5 minutes prior to departure we were taken through a security checkpoint (a first for me in a private terminal), and then walked straight onto the Legacy 650. Our bird today was D-AHOI delivered only last year to Air Hamburg.

Our plane D-AHOI for today!

My only other experience with a large private aircraft was with a Gulfstream IV SP, and this aircraft seemed almost exactly the same except for the smaller windows and slightly smaller ceiling.

Interior of our plane

Interior of a Gulfsteam IV-SP taken earlier this year for comparision

With only 6 passengers plus one attendant & two pilots there was plenty of room to spread out. Two of us occupied the front four seats, three people (who knew each other prior) took the table, and the last passenger occupied the rear compartment, which can be closed off and had two chairs and a couch. The lavatory is located aft.

Forward TV's Controlled by digital remotes throughout the aircraft

After a relatively long taxi, which was well worth it as most of the aircraft from the Farnborough air show were still on display including an A380, we were soon off an in the air, around 10 minutes behind schedule. The captain came by before the flight to give us a flying time of 1 hour 20 minutes or so.

Shortly after take-off the attendant came round and offered hot towels, then a coffee or tea service. I'm sure they would have given something stronger if asked, but with an 8am departure no one was in the mood. No food on this short empty leg flight. Service was very efficient , and no-frills.

I'll let the pictures do the talking for the rest of the flight.

Cabin Panorama

Another Cabin Shot

Plenty of space for bags behind seats and in the baggage compartment accessed from the lavatory

Stunning view of the alps coming into Geneva

Prior to landing we were treated amazing view of the Swiss Alps and touched down in Geneva right on schedule. There were literally dozens of private jets parked in and around the apron in Geneva, from small cessnas to private Boeings and everything in between. A van met us on the Tarmac and drove us to the jet aviation FBO terminal. A couple of passengers got off here, while the rest of us were driven to the main terminal to either catch the train or grab a rental car. We were escorted to border control and through arrivals where we said goodbye to our escort.

Our pilot waving us off after the flight

Some of the other jets in Geneva today

Our driver and escort from the plane

With 8 hours until my return flight, I decided to be adventurous and walk to the Red Cross museum, which took about 40 minutes through back roads from the airport. In hindsight the bus would have been much easier. That being said it was a lovely day and around 75 degrees. Having not eaten much I decided to go straight to the restaraunt for an early lunch, which had a patio overlooking the alps.

The Red Cross museum is very well done and worth a 1-2 hour visit.

Red Cross

Outside the Red Cross Museum

Hall of Records

From here I took the bus into the main part of town, a short 10 minute hop. I strolled down to the lake, did a bit of shopping, crossed the bridge and relaxed in a cafe which pretty much wrapped up my short stay in Geneva.

Lake Geneva

Exploring the City

Dessert stop

Outside the United Nations

Back on the bus and 30 minutes later, I was back at Geneva airport this time with the prospect of *shudders* flying commercial.

Had already got my boarding pass, so joined the long-but-very-fast-moving security line and then headed to the Swiss Business Lounge, accessed via my Priority Pass card. The lounge is of a relatively high standard for a priority pass-lounge. It won't win any awards, but perfectly pleasant and comfortable.

Entrance to the Swiss Business Lounge (also a Priority Pass lounge)

Lounge Seating

Food Selection

After making my way to B-gates, our flight was almost towards the end of boarding and we pushbacked right on schedule.

Our plane back to London

Managed to snag an exit row 10F. A far cry from a private heavy jet but for 4,500 Avios I couldn't complain. Captain announced a flight time of 1 hour 15 minutes. After a quick taxi, we were in the air. Rather uneventful short haul European flight. Still impressed BA gives some sort of food offering (however small), on such a short flight.

A bit different than private! But cheap and comfortable

Small sandwich & drinks service on this short flight

Goodbye Switzerland!

Verdict: Though knackered, was a wonderful day in Switzerland courtesy of JetSmarter & BA's great value avios redemptions! While it's only my first JetSmarter empty-leg flight, I'm looking forward to having some more European adventures over the next year! A couple other people on the flight also work remotely so the last-minute scheduling also works for them. I'm sure I'll get stuck somewhere at somepoint, but that's all part of the fun. Top highlights for me include getting to experience some great aircraft, new terminals, to be able to visit the cockpit freely during flight and getting a small taste of a lifestyle that would normally require far far far more $$$.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by Gabrca; Jul 18, 16 at 11:35 am Reason: Fixing photo links
Gabrca is offline  
Old Jul 18, 16, 11:15 am
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Is it kosher to post your flight crew and their phone numbers?
pseudoswede is offline  
Old Jul 18, 16, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by pseudoswede View Post
Is it kosher to post your flight crew and their phone numbers?
Fair point, have taken the confirmation photo down.
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