Why Buying a Private Jet Membership During the Pandemic Was Worth It, According to Someone Who Did It
During the pandemic, many turned to private jet memberships to be able to continue flying in a safe and private manner. Is a private jet membership worth the price? A member weighs in.
For many, flying came to a standstill when the pandemic hit. For others, flying merely evolved — in some cases, for the better. Many turned to private jet memberships to be able to continue flying in a safe and private manner.
Adrienne Salyer, a senior VP in the commercial real estate world, joined Set Jet in March 2020 and, since then, has jetted off "probably twice a month" for both business and pleasure.
"The narrative for flying had changed," she says of her decision to join Set Jet at the onset of the pandemic. "I have 80-year-old parents that live in both Newport Beach and Scottsdale, and Set Jet was the perfect solution to transport both my parents and myself back and forth without the risk of COVID."
Set Jet operates all its own flights on Bombardier CRJ200 aircrafts converted from the typical 50-seat configuration to a VIP cabin with space for just 13 to 19 passengers. Members dictate the flight schedule by booking a flight at a time of their choosing via the Set Jet website, which then opens that flight to all members. Members can take up to four charter flights per day.
Set Jet members avoid the hassles (and crowds) of flying commercial without paying the traditionally exorbitant price of flying private, though it still isn't cheap: membership costs $99.95 per month plus the price of flights. West Coast domestic flights range from $445.95 to 479.95 one way, while seasonal flights to Cabo San Lucas and Aspen are $799.95 to $999.95 one way.
Members also get access to pre-takeoff VIP lounges with Wi-Fi, beverages, and snacks and don't have to wait in security or customs lines, instead receiving a more personalized experience. Set Jet provides free COVID-19 antibody indicator testing to its members upon request.
Salyer says she appreciates both the elevated experience and the added safety that comes with her private jet membership.
"There's a lower risk of COVID exposure; it's plush; the seats are very well spaced out," she said. "There's tarmac entry — I mean, literally, we drive right on the tarmac, which is fantastic — and you don't have to deal with any of the security check-in lines where you have massive amounts of people."
Another perk is that Set Jet is pet-friendly, Salyer says. "I go back and forth between my Newport Beach and Scottsdale place and bring my dog without a problem, which is really nice." Salyer has a small Shih Tzu named Grace; when the rules around therapy animals changed in December 2020, Grace was no longer able to fly commercially.
Salyer adds that aside from the comfort and convenience of flying private, as well as the upscale experience orchestrated by Set Jet staff, whom she describes as "consummate professionals," one of the main benefits of her membership is the people she meets — fellow members who fly on a regular basis.
"I see them all the time and I've made some really good friends," she said. "It's just kind of an extra, ancillary benefit, but it's honestly been fantastic. And one of them turned into a business opportunity for me. So that was kind of nice, too."
"Tickets are not inexpensive, but it's totally 100% worth it," Salyer says. "It's elegance at an extremely affordable price point."
Set Jet currently flies to five of the most frequently traveled destinations on the West Coast: San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Scottsdale, and Las Vegas. A route between Scottsdale and Cabo San Lucas recently launched, as did a route offering nonstop service between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Las Vegas. Aspen and New York are set to enter the mix in the coming months.