Air Partner - 03 Sep 2018
When you are on the road for a long period of time, every detail counts. Our specialist music Charter Manager reveals what goes into a private jet charter for a tour and the complexities of a multi-destination trip. When you are travelling day after day, private charter can provide some familiarity and respite between gigs, as well as the assurance that you will always arrive in plenty of time for the show.
The band members start to arrive at the Signature private terminal at Luton airport. Day one of a two month European tour and they make themselves comfortable in the private lounge, being served coffees and snacks, whilst their passports are checked off against the passenger manifest and their hold luggage is taken away to be loaded onto the aircraft.
The aircraft is parked directly outside the terminal and is just a short walk away. Today they are flying on an Embraer Legacy 650, manufactured in 2014. Just as the coffees are finished, the Captain comes over to introduce himself and gives a little update about weather on route and at the destination airport, Helsinki. Then it is time to go out to the aircraft.
The passengers are escorted out through the security area, where cabin bags are screened and they walk through the normal security arch before being walked out to their aircraft, which is only around 50 metres away. The flight attendant greets the passengers on-board and quickly makes everyone comfortable. She will be with the group now for the entire tour, except for a couple of days here and there, when she will swap with her colleague while she takes the required legal rest. This aircraft has 13 seats, but there are only eight passengers today, so everyone settles into their own large leather seat with ample cabin space.
When the aircraft lands into Helsinki everyone disembarks through the small Business Aviation Centre for passport checks. For their departure in two days' time, they won't have to go through this small terminal at all and will be driven out with their luggage directly to the aircraft.
Three weeks into the tour now and everyone is settled into the routine. One of the benefits of booking a multi-leg tour is that the crew get to understand the needs of the individual passengers. For example, where they prefer to sit, if they like their favourite beverage waiting there for them as they board, who likes to play cards mid-flight and who likes to be left alone for their own private quiet time. As well as having a beautiful aircraft that fits their needs, it is so important that the passengers travel with a great crew, who are flexible, intuitive and friendly.
Tonight is a night flight out of Marseille. The band arrive at the airport flanked by their police escort and make their way into the small General Aviation Terminal. Bags are already on the aircraft as they were sent ahead earlier. The band have come straight from the venue and are still in their stage clothes so quickly freshen up in a small room set aside for them before being taken out to the aircraft. Just time for a quick drink before take-off and they are on their way. After landing, they are all are collected from the aircraft in Bordeaux and at their hotel within an hour of touching down.
Day 42 and, after 23 different venues, it is a flight from Lyon to Lahr. Freiburg is the final destination today, but Lahr is the closest airport, a short 40 minute drive away. It is a night stop here and out the next day onto Bratislava, and then Prague and Nantes over the following few days.
So far all of the flights have been largely unaffected by weather, however, the plan for today is to fly into Florence and the weather does not look promising with storms in the area. The aircraft sets off from Nantes but the crew will not know for sure whether a landing at Florence will be possible until well into the flight. Cars are organised at both Florence and Pisa to ensure no time is wasted on arrival and the passengers can leave immediately, wherever they land. After an hour into the flight, it seems that the forecast at Florence is marginal. The crew will proceed to Florence but if it is unsafe to attempt a landing, they will take no risks and divert to Pisa where cars and handling staff are on standby. At the end of the 1 hour 45 minute flight, the aircraft approaches Florence and the weather has cleared just in time. The aircraft lands safely into Florence and the cars are immediately stood down in Pisa. The band's promoters meet them at the airport and whisk the band away to the venue.
It is now the final straight with just four more shows to fulfil. As everyone starts to think about leaving their hotel, the tour manager takes a phone call from their Air Partner Charter Manager and is advised that there is a small technical problem with the aircraft planned for their next flight. Before he has a chance to panic about how he will move the band today, a new plan is outlined by their Charter Manager, a substitute aircraft has already been sourced - another Legacy - and it is already on its way into Krakow now. There will be a slight delay to the departure today, but it should be very minimal, approximately 1 hour. The passengers stayed in the comfort of the hotel for a little longer to avoid waiting around at the terminal.
The last shows are all UK hops and everything goes as planned. The tour has been a total success, and their days on the road made all the easier by the great aircraft, flexible crew and meticulous Charter Manager, all of whom have been at their disposal for the last two months. In total, they have fulfilled 36 shows, visited 32 cities in 21 countries over 72 days.