Aero: All First Class “Semi-Private” Jet Service

Filed Under: Other Airlines

I guess this concept has been around for a couple of years now, but I hadn’t paid much attention to it until now, as the airline will be operating a US route over the next several weeks.

What is Aero?

Over the past few years we’ve seen private jets become more accessible. Or something like that. We’ve seen more private jet membership concepts emerge, we’ve seen “empty leg” flights become easier to book, and we’ve also seen some companies sell the concept of “semi-private” flights.

That last point is exactly what Aero is doing, which is backed by an Uber co-founder. Aero as such isn’t an airline, and doesn’t directly own planes. Rather Aero acts as a charter operator, selling and marketing seats on luxury jets.

For example, in the past Aero has marketed flights from London to Naples (for those looking to go to the Amalfi Coast), from London to Mykonos, and from London to Nice (for those looking to go to Saint-Tropez).

In February 2021, Aero will be operating a US route for a few months.

Aero launching Los Angeles to Aspen route

In February, March, and April, Aero will operate service several times per week between Los Angeles (Van Nuys) and Aspen, optimally timed for weekend getaways. Tickets cost in the range of $990-1,250 each way.

What makes the Aero experience different?

Aero promotes the following regarding the passenger experience for these flights:

  • Crowd-free private airports and lounges, as you don’t have to go through security
  • “First class style” seating, as planes are in a 1-1 configuration
  • A concierge team that can assist with anything you’d need at your destination
  • “Bespoke design throughout — our jet cabin interiors are customized with hand-stitched Italian leather seats, state-of-the-art lighting, and a custom sound system”
  • “The convenience of a gondola, with the comfort of a chalet at 37,000 feet”

Here are some pictures of the experience:

I don’t get semi-private flights

Look, I don’t want to be a hater, and be part of the “don’t hate ’em cuz you ain’t ’em” crowd. However, I’ve just never understood the appeal of “semi-private” jets.

It’s an oxymoron. Either a jet is private or it isn’t. If you’re on a plane with 20 other people, what about that is private? With that logic, is an airline-operated Beechcraft 1900 also a “semi-private” plane?

Maybe the experience actually is nice, but the marketing around it is borderline off-putting. The convenience of a gondola, and the comfort of a chalet, really? And a “custom sound system?” What purpose is that supposed to serve, exactly?

And then there are my general concerns about these kinds of concepts (not at all specific to Aero):

  • In the event of irregular operations (mechanical, weather, etc.) you’re typically in trouble, since it’s not like you booked a major airline that has other options
  • In general I’m not a fan of companies marketing travel when we typically know little about the actual operator

Don’t get me wrong, if the price were right and the schedule were convenient I’d absolutely consider something like this. But I just don’t see the value in going out of your way for “semi-private” flights.

Bottom line

Aero is a company that sells and markets “semi-private” flights. While the company has largely offered flights outside the US in the past, Aero will offer flights between Los Angeles and Aspen between February and April. Tickets start at under $1,000 one-way.

I’m not sure I see the appeal, but maybe someone is excited about this concept, and maybe we’ll see this expand to more US markets soon.

What do you make of Aero?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments
  1. Looks like an expensive version of JetSuiteX…

    In the pandemic, I see the value in these for risk management— less time in crowded airports, and fewer passengers means less virus risk if you’re traveling.

  2. For comparison, other nonstops for these dates are $330 economy or $419 first. Same prices for UA and AA, both on public(?) CR7s. Easy choice.

  3. Honestly this feels like a Boutique Air flight subsidized through the Essential Air Services program. I wouldn’t pay the premium just for use of the private jet terminal, but I can see the value in trying to be exposed to fewer people

  4. Isn’t this just another Blade? I don’t see any difference whatsoever (as well as all of the other recent companies). This is a crowded market now.

  5. #Fail if and when service actually commences. Without business sector support, this model is unsustainable. Think the end of the BA “babybus” between LCY and JFK.

  6. There is actually a good version of this between FL and NYC. It’s cheapest with XO (formerly JetSmarter). Usually about $2k.

    Big captains chairs and in and out of FBOs with ~15 people.

    Really nice service during covid.

  7. It is a touch too expensive for my blood. But we are talking maybe 12 passengers who like the ide of bypassing airports but can still conform their lives to a set but hopefully reasonable schedule.

    I’d think the LA market has enough people who can stomach both the price and lack of absolute schedule control when one charters a private jet.

  8. The appropriate comparable is probably a business class ticket. The value proposition is — would one pay 2x (or whatever the number) over a business/first price in order to avoid the TSA and other hassles of standard commercial service.

    Arguably, it’s a form of regulatory arbitrage. I am interested to see if and how it works.

  9. I don’t think the target market for this is OMAAT readers. As @Sel,D. pointed out, I’d pay $419 on UA or AA any day over double to triple, plus a drive to Van Nuys. Precheck/Clear means security time is negligible, most readers have lounge access at LAX, and you’ll likely get the same in-flight service. Only on the CR7 you’ll have a dedicated FA serving 6-9 people. It might actually feel more private. Granted, you’ll probably have to proactively ask for service on AA, but you’ll certainly get it.

    I’d also project that 100% of “influencers” that take these flights will casually forget to drop “semi” from the description of their private flight.

  10. The all business class airlines that went into operation in the previous decade all failed with the exception of the BA flight (does that still exist?) Maybe due to COVID there will be popular for senior managers that have to fly and very high end leisure travelers that want to fly. But there would need to be a multitude of routes to make it attractive and compensate for all the issues like irregular operations.

  11. I would throttle their Marketing VP for approving the word “bespoke” in their materials. Throttle them until the very light left their eyes…

    And with that, back to work!

  12. Why would someone pay $2.99 for a cup of coffee when you could get one for $0.99 across the street? Because of lifestyle choices and personal preferences.

    Will Aero be successful? Who knows. But Blade and Co. attract folks with a different taste.

  13. My wife and I just flew Los Angeles to Maui non stop on Hawaiian Airlines, on an A330. It was as close to a “semi private” jet as you can get, 10 in 1st class and 30 in the back.

  14. Some of the smaller jets that are operated by other carriers for the big carriers seat around 65 people. So what’s the difference here between 65 and 20. Also, unlike some other private jets, they are not associated with a main airline. Some of the other private jet companies are. The price is not as much as I would have expected.

  15. My small farming town in upstate New York has a new shop selling $800 puffer jackets and $15 mayonnaise to the Covid refugees from the city who paid $1.2 million for houses that were worth $400,000 before they were painted black years ago.

    I continue to be amazed at how the latest generation of nouveau rich spend thier money.

  16. I fly about 150 hours a year private. The luxury of private air travel is coming and going on your own schedule. I can be gone in the morning for a meeting in another city but yet home to pick up the kids from school.

    It absolutely makes no sense the “semi-private” concept unless there is access to airports which major airlines don’t service.

  17. I don’t think the concept makes much sense either, but I have to point out that the operator of Aero’s “fleet” is actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aero.

  18. From the marketing pics it looks like JSX marketed to a wannabe crowd… for a much heftier price. At least JSX fares are close to making it worth the money not to have to go through the airport hoops we all have to jump through when traveling. @Luis, good catch on those open toed sandals on the flight attendant. I guess it’s every man/woman for themselves if anything goes wrong when she stubs her toe in an emergency.

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