““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Going public about flying private
Years ago, I flew my small airplane to visit my sister. She was shooting photos at a three-day equestrian event at a friend’s private horse farm. When it came time for me to leave, she asked the host’s son if he could drive me back to the airport. When he said, “What time’s your flight?” I paused, smiled and replied, “Whenever I get there, I guess.”
Never mind that the car he drove cost five times what I paid for my secondhand sportplane. He was impressed. And why should I say anything to burst his bubble? What he didn’t know wasn’t hurting him a bit.
There may be some social circles where it’s presumed that you travel on your own airplane, either up front or in the back. But most people assume that “I flew in this morning” means you took off your shoes, wasted an hour at a departure gate and then squeezed into a widebody with a few hundred strangers.
Here are three ways to spill the beans to your friends and colleagues that you don’t have to worry about being bumped from flights and your travel agendas aren’t tied to e-tickets:
1. Brag like hell. False modesty is as phony as false pride, right? So, bring your dog to the meeting and be sure to mention how well he “heels” when you’re walking across the tarmac. Chat about the crew and refer to their families by their first names (even if you have to make them up). Wear your windbreaker with the jet manufacturer’s logo. Make sure everyone knows that you’ll be arriving home that evening in time for an event that they can’t possibly attend–and tell them you’ll pass along their best wishes to everyone else there. You know–rub it in a little. (P.S. Please don’t be this guy.)
2. Be humble. When conversation turns to airline delays, canceled flights and missed meetings, simply say that the time saved by avoiding airlines makes flying privately a bargain. For you, it’s not about the glamour of private jets at all; it’s about the simple logic of maximizing your time and space. Explain that you’re “buying” extra ticks on the clock, the one commodity you’re guaranteed to run out of one day.
3. Be subtle (sort of). Let everyone assume you flew on the airlines. They might be puzzled when you idly mention at lunch that you had breakfast at home–which they know is 1,200 miles away and a 90-minute drive to the nearest big airport. They might wonder why, when the agenda gets extended, you’re the only one not scrambling to rebook your return flight. But then, when someone offers to share a cab to the airport, you’ll have to admit that you’ll be skipping the excitement of the security check and departing from the general aviation terminal or from a totally different (much closer) airport. Your “secret” will be out.
These are only three examples. We all have our individual perspectives on how to project our personal image. Traveling by business jet makes a statement. It’s up to you to decide on the language–and volume–you want that statement to assume.