I travel a lot and have experienced the best and the worst of travel, but regardless of how good the airline is, there is one thing that never changes, the dreaded airport security process. One of the places I fly often to is Los Angeles, where I originally hail from (well Pasadena, and as they say “no one is really from LA, but if they are from LA then they are probably really from Pasadena.”) Anyway, it’s a quick jaunt from San Jose (SJC) to Burbank (BUR). The flight is just long enough for a drink to be served and almost finished before they have to pick up your cup for landing, so it makes sense for us to trek down there via plane. Except, the airports can add anywhere from 2-3 hours to the travel time which makes the trek almost long enough where we say, hell let’s just drive (4.5 hours if Waze provides proper speed trap info). This has been our family’s (and I’m sure many others) classic conundrum when heading down south. That was, until this week.
If you haven’t heard, the gig economy is booming and personalized services that save time are hitting every area of our life. This is now proving true with the introduction of JetSuiteX (the private charter come commoner airline that was founded by one of the JetBlue founders). They run out of the private terminals and are competitively priced. I was a bit skeptical but decided to try them for our latest trip down south and while I’d like to keep this my little secret, I just need to let others know that there is an alternative.
Here’s my story:
$88 dollars each way making the trip about the same as a Southwest flight. We pulled up to the private terminal to the valet stand, dropped our car, walked through the automatic doors and were greeted by the JetSuiteX counter personnel (oh, btw, this was about 25 minutes before takeoff). They asked for our ID, gave us a boarding pass and took our luggage. Unfortunately, our plane was stuck in Burbank due to the Santa Ana winds so we were delayed. Not unusual, but this isn’t the regular terminal so not a lot of services, but the staff offered us all wine and snacks and apologized profusely (not your normal terminal experience for sure). I asked how often they were delayed and they said it happened from time to time, but I could always just call before leaving home to check when my plane was taking off and they’d tell whether I should just hang at home for a bit!
The plane arrived just when they said it would and we had a fantastic flight down. This wasn’t like a normal flight, everyone was just a bit nicer and all us passengers felt a little bit more connected, leading us to strike up random conversations as if we all were part of some secret club. I got to know more people on these two flights than I have in my last dozen or so normal flights.
So, back to the flight, after a complimentary drink we landed in Burbank, had our luggage brought directly to us and walked out the doors to find our rental car waiting at the valet for us.
The return experience was just the same, arrived right before the flight, left the rental car in a parking space right in front of the door (more on that in a second) and walked up to the counter. Here we were greeted with, “oh you must be the Jennett’s” as the other couples on the flight had already checked in (once again that little bit of special). Great flight home and had our car already waiting for us at the door as the valet knew we were coming.
All of this was exceptional in the way of experience, but this is where JetSuiteX earned my future loyalty and me writing this blog. I arrived home, emptied my pockets and realized I had the rental car key!!!! I talked to the agency and said I would FedEx it down and understood there would be extra charges. Then an idea struck me and I called the JetSuiteX offices; “so, I still have my rental car key, is there any chance I could come back and you could fly it down.” Fully expecting to be laughed by the woman on the other end, she instead said, “oh well the plane is leaving right now, but if you can get here in the next 30 minutes or so, I’ll still be here and I can get it on the flight in the morning.” Astonished, I rushed over dropped off the keys to her and they have just now arrived in Burbank. Upon calling Burbank to ensure they arrived I was greeted by another lovely woman who said, “oh yes, I was told they’d be coming down, I didn’t greet the plane, but I know that the crew has the keys and we’ll take care of it from here.”
This is a lesson in customer service that just about any company can learn from, but JetSuiteX seems to have it in their DNA. Sorry, Southwest, but I’m flying private to BUR from now on!!