Monday, February 22, 2016

Abercrombie & Kent Scores Hit With Boutique Private Jet Tours

Abercrombie & Kent Scores Hit with Boutique Private Jet Tours
PHOTO: The Ganges River at Varanasi, India. Private jets make exotic destinations more accessible. (Photo courtesy Abercrombie & Kent)

As air travel becomes more crowded, more commodified and hobbled by security concerns, the appeal of private jet travel increases, at least for those who can afford it. With the popularity of private jet travel on the rise, Abercrombie & Kent is branching out into a new tier of private air travel with a new series of scaled down private air trips it calls Wings Over the World.
The Wings Over the World programs use smaller, chartered aircraft, not necessarily jets, and explore more concentrated geographical areas than A&K’s traditional private jet tours. They have dedicated crews throughout the itinerary and a maximum of 16 passengers.
The series is debuting with three programs: Wings Over Indochina, Wings Over India and Wings Over China. They are priced between $27,995 and $29,995. The first departs next October, the second in December and the third in April 2017.
A&K has done extraordinarily well with its private jet offerings since its first offering of the Royal Air Tour in 1989, which circled the world in a private jet. The private jet programs have succeeded to a degree that surprises travel agents who often don’t imagine that their clients could or would spring for a package with such an extravagant price. Private jet trips hover in price around the $100,000 zone. And they do sell.
Last year the company expanded on the private jet concept with a new series of private jet trips conceived and led by A&K’s founder and chairman, Geoffrey Kent, called Inspiring Expeditions. The basic idea of the series is “to take intimate groups of intrepid travelers for adventures in the most unexplored areas in the world, remote places only accessible by private jet, led by the best professional explorers.”
A&K’s private jet journeys in the past have usually used a chartered 757 jet reconfigured to carry only 50 passengers in business class seating.
Private jets offer the advantage of being able to cover great expanses easier than ever before. One popular form of private jet trip is the around-the-world by private jet tour. There are endless possible ways to structure an around-the-world itinerary based on some unifying theme.
But what the private jet trips all have in common is a way to cover great distances easily and in comfort, with minimal airport hassle and delay. And private jets offer the possibility of traveling to places that cannot be visited by regular scheduled flights.
The possibility of flying to remote areas that are unaccessible by scheduled flights also plays into the rising demand for authentic experiences.
“It’s fascinating how much attraction people have to traditional cultures, like Japan and Bhutan, places that are so much not affected by the western world,” said Pamela Lassers, A&K’s director of media relations. “It’s something people are really seeking. These are some of our strongest places. Part of the appeal of private jet trips is to link together several of those places all in one trip.”
Besides the around-the-world tours, there are many other kinds of itineraries that tie various destinations together based on some unifying theme.
A&K’s “Africa Revealed: A Journey by Private Jet” is priced at $92,500 per person. “Cuba and South America by Private Jet” is $99,500 per person. “Around the World by Private Jet: Islands, Savannas & the Amazon” is $117,000. “Around the World by Private Jet: The Tropics to the Arctic” is priced at $135,000.
Lassers says that the private air trips are attractive to entrepreneurs who have not had time to travel while they were spending decades building up a business. When they finally reach a point in their business lives that allows them to travel, they have a lot to make up for. They want to see a lot in the time they have, and the private jets are good for that. They maximize the amount of ground you can cover in a short time, without sacrificing comfort.
As air travel has become more accessible to broader markets, it has also become less comfortable, and the result is a new tier of air travel for those who want a more exclusive, luxurious flying experience. The addition of lie-flat seats to the product offering a couple of years ago was the crowning touch to the private jet experience.
Travelers can now circle the globe with their own flying sleeping quarters, in luxury Winnebagos of the sky. The Wings Over the World programs scale down the private jet experience to a boutique style of travel.
The first slated departures have already sold out and A&K is planning to add more.

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