Many times mainstream media coverage of business aviation focuses on scoundrels and outlaws
Find a story about Jeffrey Epstein that doesn’t mention he has a private jet or flies by private jet and I will give you a buck. Earlier this year, The Washington Post profiled Elon Musk, tracking his private flights. In one example, it used the fact that his jet would drop him off at one airport and pick him up at another, closer to where he ended his day, as a sign of excess instead of efficiency.
From my perspective, very good journalists often use private jets as evidence that somehow supports unflattering and sometimes illegal behavior. In some cases private jets do, but not in a different way than others use their car to get from place to place.
For the most part, most reporting on private jets ignores the real reasons those that can afford them, use them.
On the other side of the coin, The New York Times recently published a photo essay, “The History of Private Planes is Less High Life and More Daily Grind.“ It noted, “The 41,000-foot commute is still a commute.”
In the lead image, the picture of a suit and tie dress business executive hauling his own carry-on luggage across the tarmac is captioned, “As this traveler knew all too well, flying for business — even on a company plane — isn’t as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be.”
Private jet efficiency
Under a black and white of Mick Jagger and his then-wife Bianca walking behind the tail of several private aircraft, the author notes, “But while the Jaggers of the world may gas up their jets for the prestige, for many business people the decision to fly privately is one of pure practicality. If a factory is half a state away from a commercial airport, sometimes the only way to get there without sacrificing a whole day to layovers and transfers is to chart your own course.”
In terms of space, under a 1983 photo of Xerox employees aboard a private jet shuttle between White Plains and Rochester, it notes, “A corporate jet is typically a vessel for work, not play — instead of cocktail shakers and Versace cushions, desks and Dictaphones are crammed into a space not much bigger than a generous cubicle. Long before in-flight Wi-Fi, corporate planes were designed for connectivity.”
It also uses a 2018 NBAA report that 66% of employees say they are more productive on a company airplane than sitting at their desk. There’s even a 1929 image of a CEO from the day talking into a dictation machine he had installed on his airplane.
Underscoring that for private jet fliers, time is money, the article highlights a refueling stop in Grand Island, Nebraska, that would pay customers if it failed to turn a private jet in more than 15 minutes.