As we’ve watched the events of 2020 unfold, one thing has become remarkably clear: travel is a privilege, one we value far more now than ever before. With summer in Europe’s most beautiful destinations like Ibiza beckoning with endless sunshine, beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants and a lifestyle that is the perfect antidote to a cooped-up city life, the desire to jet off on holiday is strong right now. Travel in the ‘new normality’ comes with its own set of challenges however – social distancing in airports, constant sanitisation, additional security checks, hours spent wearing masks and numerous other elements that cause a heightened sense of stress. For some, the sheer thought (and let’s be honest, some fear) is enough to make you postpone your holiday. But what if there was another way?
Enter Aero, the company that’s redefining air travel as we know it. Dubbed ‘the next generation air travel’, Aero offers their clients the use of stress-free, shared, private jet charters to create fast, secure, seamless first-class flying experiences at accessible prices. Summer 2020 routes connect London, Ibiza, Mykonos and Nice, and are all about bringing back appreciation for the art of air travel. But rather than waxing lyrical about all the things you can easily research and read on the Aero website (here), we’re going to let our founder and director Natalie Chaponnel do the talking. She recently opted to fly with Aero when travelling between Ibiza and the UK, with her daughter Milla, her partner Del, their dog Kuki and 250 kilos of shared luggage between them (this is a family that certainly doesn’t pack light), and now says she can’t imagine flying commercial ever again.
“Once we’d enquired about booking our flight with Aero, I was introduced to our personal concierge, Cormac, who helped with every aspect of the flight, all in good time, always very fast to reply, and always on hand with every piece of information we needed to know – from links to the health forms required by the UK government to access codes needed for the person picking us up from the private terminal. We were also asked to fill in a series of flight preferences in which we could choose our favourite snacks, drinks and advise of food allergies. I was impressed with the choices: vegan (for me!), pescatarian, vegetarian, gluten-free, Kosher, Halal and dairy-free among many others. Cormac even asked if we were travelling for a special occasion, in which case the crew would arrange something special – the attention to detail was above and beyond.”
On the date Natalie, Del, Milla and Kuki were due to fly, they headed directly to Ibiza’s private terminal, where their luggage was swiftly removed from the car by handlers and they were greeted by Aero staff (“Milla loved how elegantly they were dressed.”) who ushered them into the terminal. No waiting, no queuing, no crowds and no counters, the team checked their passports before whisking them into the spacious, comfortable, modern and bright private lounge. “The super lovely Aero girls had cold drinks waiting for us, along with some nice Aero face masks, which we happily wore because they were much more comfortable than our own! Here, we found a friend for Kuki, a four-month old pup Lila, who was also sharing the journey. Then Captain Klaus (the pilot) came in to meet us and before we knew it, it was time to board.”
After a short security check, the family were driven to the plane in a private car, stopping by passport control where the police were kind enough to take their passports inside for checking, so they didn’t even need to exit the vehicle on a hot summer day. Then, it was onto the jet – single file, including Kuki trotting up the stairs on his leash like the VIP pup he was born to be. “It was very cool, all sleek and black,” says Natalie. “The design is really impressive – very minimal but well equipped. Milla particularly loved the Aero-coloured window blinds and I liked how this colour coordination continued on the steps. Seats weren’t specifically allocated to us prior to boarding – it’s a 16-seat jet, so it’s really not hard to find your personally addressed, handwritten welcome note, along with your snack bag. Milla was very impressed that they’d gone to the effort to satisfy her teen cravings for Pringles and Oreos; I on the other hand, loved the vegan selection provided (and the nice chilled rosé!). Kuki enjoyed being served fresh water too.”
As the group settled in to their single-row, premium hand-stitched leather reclining seats, with loads of leg (and dog) room, plus a personal charging point, Captain Klaus did another introduction and held the safety demonstration himself. “I thought that was a really nice touch,” says Natalie. And then, they were off, cruising through the skies at lower altitudes than commercial aeroplanes – this meant the views were amazing from every seat on board. “Klaus kept sharing landmarks and where the best views would be (such as Barcelona and the Pyrenees) from the right or left side of the plane so we knew which way to look. The Pyrenees were particularly spectacular.” At the same time, Lana, Aero’s flight hostess, introduced herself and continually ensured everyone was OK for drinks and snacks – including Kuki.
“The flight was very smooth, and much faster than we expected,” says Natalie on arriving at their destination, Farnborough airport private terminal in the UK. “Maybe it just feels faster because you don’t have all the typical airport admin and waiting, and luggage carousels to deal with at each end. But the whole experience was seamless overall – our own drivers were already waiting for us outside the plane as we stepped off. As to be expected there was a quick dog (chip scan and paper/pet passport check), luggage and passport check from Border Control as we exited the plane – complete with their friendly Customs beagle for Kuki to make yet another friend on his journey. Then the Aero handlers loaded all nine of our bags into our car and we were off to our destination in the UK before we knew it. It was nothing like the usual queues, baggage claim, taxi rank kind of experiences you face when flying commercial – completely stress-free, even for our dog, who was able to sit on my lap instead of being in a hold.”
Travel as we knew it may never go back to the old version of ‘normal’, but one thing is for sure – investing in a private charter service like Aero rather than commercial air services can certainly make your journey safer, more hygienic and much smoother and stress-free than ever before. Booking an Aero charter means there is much less chance of cancellations (as we’re seeing daily right now with major airlines), very little exposure to strangers and zero airport delays, while the ultra-personal service helps make you feel comfortable, safe and secure the entire way. These days, as the privilege of travel is so apparent, you could almost say flying private has gone from a luxury to a necessity. Whether you’re travelling for essential work, you’re jetsetting to access your second home, or you’re off to enjoy a well-deserved holiday, you’re not just paying for a privilege when you fly with Aero – you’re investing in peace of mind.