For most travelers flying out of Miami International Airport, the experience is far from glamorous, with harrowingly long lines and — if you're lucky — takeaway from KFC.
Instead, imagine being ushered onto a private 757 operated by the luxury safari pioneer Abercrombie & Kent.
Founder, chairman and CEO Geoffrey Kent, a dashing explorer who is a real-life cross between James Bond and Indiana Jones, will be there to accompany you, along with a fleet of flight attendants, chefs and guides.
You'll relax in one of just 50 handmade leather seats that fully recline and have built-in massagers. As the Veuve Clicquot flows, you can use Bose noise-cancelling headphones to watch movies on a personal iPad.
From Miami, the jet will whisk you away, crisscrossing the globe, hitting five continents on a 25-day voyage to places like Easter Island, with its mystical "moai" statues; Nicaragua, to tour a volcano by helicopter; Australia, where you'll taste wine in the Margaret River Valley; and Tbilisi, Georgia, for a private choral performance at a sixth-century church.
"Every three days, we plan a series of outstanding adventures in a different place," says Kent. "Each destination has to outdo the one before."
Luxury travel consultant Tiffany Dowd, founder and president of Luxe Social Media, took an A&K private jet journey in 2014.
"Imagine having breakfast on the Masai Mara in the morning and then gambling in the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo in the evening — all in the same day," she says.
Dowd says it's the exclusive access and attention to detail that sets Abercrombie & Kent apart — plus being able to travel with the founder of the company.
"It was such an incredible experience to travel around the world with Geoffrey Kent," she says. "He is the ultimate adventurer, a consummate storyteller. To visit Kenya and go on a safari with him, where A&K all began, was something I'll never forget."
A private jet pioneer, Abercrombie & Kent originally launched its trailblazing around-the-world journeys in 1989 aboard a luxuriously refitted Lockheed L-1011 Tristar jetliner. In subsequent years, the company chartered the supersonic Concorde. Now, the company hosts excursions on a glamorously outfitted 757.
"We're trying to reinstitute that age of exploration," says Kent. "Today everyone just does a package tour, pretends it's really exciting, that it is an experience. By the way, it isn't."
A trip like this isn't cheap — $150,000 per person, based on a double occupancy — but it includes everything, from hotels to food on the plane and off, drinks, activities and tips. Another part of the appeal? The access it gives the lucky (and wealthy) few to money-can-buy experiences. And then there's A&K's "Travelling Bell Boy" service — you never have to touch your own bags.
"In this case, you can use the misused word 'unique' to describe the trip," says Doug Gollan, founder and editor of Private Jet Card Comparisons.
Since A&K launched its private jet journeys, the market has been saturated by other luxury brands offering similar weeks-long experiences. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts takes jetsetters on a sleek black 757 to luxuriate at its properties around the world. Aman just started doing the same for its most enthusiastic Amanjunkies, as its fans are called. Crystal Cruises launched trips on Crystal Skye, a tricked out 88-seat Boeing 777. SeaDream Yacht Club partnered with TCS World Travel to offer the Sea Sky Safari. Smithsonian and National Geographic also run high-brow jet trips with a focus on learning. Trips can range from $56,950 for a trip to Asia with National Geographic to $55,000 an hour to charter the Crystal Skye.
"By flying privately, you're taking away the hassles and stress of 20 arrivals and departures through commercial airports, since you are arriving and departing from VIP facilities," says Gollan, who also publishes the DG Amazing Experiences e-newsletter. That means luxurious lounges with free food and drinks, separate security areas with everything handled for you and no lines — ever.
Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, which caters to clients who have extremely high net worth, usually above $100 million, says that private jet journeys are one of the big travel trends he is seeing in 2017.
"Round-the-world journeys are stepping up to a new level as luxury travel brands are stepping in to offer uber-wealthy jetsetters private experiences that showcase what they are all about," says Ezon.
Ezon also points out that guests who normally wouldn't travel in groups end up loving that aspect. "While most wealthy clients do not like to travel in groups, many cite the incredible relationships they build with like-minded business leaders accompanying them on their world journey," he says.
For Kent, the reward is seeing the enthusiasm among his guests. On a recent around-the-world trip that Kent personally hosted, he told his guests about the itinerary for the next jet journey at the farewell dinner.
"The seats are not cheap," says Kent. "Twenty-six people booked that evening, and it was completely sold out within three weeks. And that shows the demand for a true experience."
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