I’m a member of JetSmarter, mostly because Nancy somehow talked me into it. If nothing else, it provided a neat way of slam-dunking my minimum spend for 100,000 bonus points on my then-new Amex Biz Platinum (which I then promptly transferred the balance of to a new First Tech Federal Credit Union Platinum MasterCard, which offers a no-fee, no-APR balance transfer for 12 months, so I can take all year to pay off that membership fee).
The planes are sort of like limousines in the sky, which is to say a pretty nice way to get from NY to CA or elsewhere. The planes take off from tiny little airports, or zones adjacent to major airports, which don’t have TSA gropers and teeming hordes of frustrated travelers. You just get on, and get off.
Anyway, now that I’m a member, it’s pretty sweet. It lets me fly all the fancy private jets I want, provided a) they’re going somewhere I want to go, and b) if it’s a regular service flight, I have tokens available for it.
Let me explain. JetSmarter has two modes. (Well, there’s also a third, but only for people with richer blood than I have.) Their scheduled service, called Shuttle, requires that I use one or both of my two “tokens” to reserve a flight. Once the tokens are down, I can’t get them back until I take the flight (or I pay a hefty penalty). Some routes, like NY-LA, book up way in advance, so that means I’ve tied up my tokens for, say, a month. Some, like NY-SF, are less busy. (If I gave two flying fucks, so to speak, about ever going to Florida, it’d be bomb-ass, because they have a million of those flights.) The flights themselves don’t cost me anything.
JetSmarter also has a “Deals” mode, where the most random flights pop up with 12-48 hours’ notice, sometimes to places I’ve never heard of, because someone or something needs their plane moved from somewhere to somewhere else, so they can use it. These are known as empty legs. JetSmarter lets me hop on these regardless of tokens, and I can take guests along. Cuz, you know, they’re just gonna fly empty anyway. Of course, your complicated life has to be readily alterable to accommodate these if you want to use ‘em, since they’re always last minute.
Anyway, I’ve used Shuttle a few times — twice to California, once from Vegas, once from Miami. Comfy, easy, and I’ve met some interesting people (it’s a bit of a social club).
But I was itching to try out an empty, and I actually had nothing happening today. And there was an empty leg to…Lexington, Kentucky. You see where this is going.
Here’s the stupid part, and it really is the stupid part: I didn’t plan on staying. I wanted to come back and hang out with Caroline, who couldn’t come with me. I decided to just go and come back. To do it. Because it’s there. Etc. I mean, fuck it, sometimes you just gotta do stupid shit.
So I did. United had a nonstop back for only 10,000 miles, so I burnt those to come home. And I did all this only three hours before the flight to Lexington was gonna leave. It was, uh, spontaneous.
I thought I was going to have the whole plane to myself, from the looks of it, but it turns out there were two other travelers, who were probably as (un)excited that I was on on their plane as I was that they were on mine. But actually they were super cool and we just hung out and drank champagne the whole way. (I did not think I would become the person that I apparently now am.)
Then I got in a car that was waiting for me planeside, took a ride to the regular part of the airport (which was funny, because it could have actually just driven across the tarmac to my United flight, but of course they couldn’t for security reasons). Then I walked into the quiet Lexington airport, got on my flight, and came the fuck home, in time for dinner.