Love flying but hate the airport crowds and security lines? Enter JetSuiteX, which flies commercial semiprivate jets to select cities across the West Coast. On Monday, they began daily flights from Seattle to Oakland, California, starting at $99 one way.
JetSuiteX kicked off its inaugural flight out of Seattle with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a water cannon arch. Unfortunately, not every flight will have such fanfare, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel like a Very Important Person.
JetSuiteX flights depart out of King County International Airport-Boeing Field (BFI) in South Seattle. Unlike at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, there is no Link light-rail station near the terminal, so your best bet is to get dropped off. Ride-share prices vary depending on when and where you’re coming from; taking a shared Lyft from Capitol Hill around 8 a.m. cost me around $17 and took about 25 minutes. BFI has free parking available for travelers, although spots can fill up quickly, so the airport still recommends getting dropped off instead of driving. Because Boeing Field is such a small facility, you should have no problem getting dropped off directly in front of the entrance.
JetSuiteX suggests arriving 20 minutes before the plane’s departure. When you arrive at the airport, you check in with the JetSuiteX front desk, show your ID and an attendant will hand you your boarding pass and check in any bags you have. JetSuiteX allows one carry-on bag that can fit under the seat in front of you and allows you to check two other bags (with a combined weight of 50 pounds) for free. Baggage beyond that will require an extra fee depending on size and weight.
There is no limit to the amount of liquids you can bring on board, so no need to break out your travel-sized toothpaste and empty your water bottles. Although if you choose to pack alcohol, you are not permitted to drink it on board.
It’s almost shocking how fast the check-in process is. I kept asking crew members, “That’s it? Are you sure? You don’t need me to run through an X-ray? Do you want to see my boarding pass again??”
After the five minutes it takes to check in, you’ll wait in a small lounge that has free coffee and other airplane snacks like peanuts and pretzels.
The flight experience
To board the plane, you walk directly on, up a short set of stairs. For information about accessibility, call 800-435-9579 ahead of your flight; JetSuiteX offers accommodations for people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility needs. The plane seats about 30 passengers, so it’s pretty easy to find your assigned seat.
On JetSuiteX, you’ll have much more legroom than your average main cabin seat on a commercial flight, but seat width seems about the same. Although based on the jet’s layout, you’ll never have to get stuck sitting in a middle seat.
Each seat comes equipped with one power outlet that you can use to charge devices. And the jet offers free limited Wi-Fi, although service is spotty at best.
The JetSuiteX flies the Embraer ERJ-135 jet, which glides pretty smoothly, with minimal turbulence, although that is, of course, also contingent on weather.
JetSuiteX also provides free beverages — including alcohol and beer — in addition to a variety of snacks that change depending on your flight, but typically includes a variety of chips and cookies. On the flight I took, they ran out of coffee, which was borderline blasphemous, but there were still plenty of other beverages — albeit minimally caffeinated — to choose from.
The jet has one typical airplane closet-sized bathroom located in the back of the aircraft, but there’s minimal wait time due to the plane’s small capacity. Just like in commercial flights, you are permitted to move around the cabin, but it’s recommended that you stay in your seat for most of the duration of the flight. Be careful when you stand up: The ceiling is so low that, even though I’m just 5-foot-4, I bumped my head a few times.
The flight from Seattle to Oakland took approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, which is comparable to a commercial flight. Upon arrival, departing the plane is very fast as you don’t have to wait for dozens of people in front of you, and there’s no hassle with overheard luggage.
Immediately after getting off the plane, you can pick up any bags that you checked in, which the crew unloads and leaves on the runway.
A good bet
While JetSuiteX may not offer the full luxury experience that a private jet would, it still is much easier and more relaxed than your typical flight out of Sea-Tac. Overall, you save quite a bit of time without the hassles of security, boarding and de-boarding and searching for your luggage.
Correction: The article has been updated with information about parking facilities at King County International Airport.