When an email arrives asking if you’d like to sample a private jet experience to Athens on a weekend in June, you reply ‘yes’ first and check that you’re free afterwards. Opportunities like this don’t drop into your inbox often, so when Celebrity Cruises offered me the chance to experience their Jet Set Sail VIP premium charter flight service from Stansted, it’s safe to say that I jumped at the chance without giving any prior engagements a second thought.
A-listers are on our TV’s and on the covers of our magazines, but how often do we catch them on our flights? Love them or hate them, the chances are that we’d love to holiday like them.
A chance to see the world is one of the best things money can buy and the papers are never short of shots of George Clooney sipping a good red on Lake Como or Simon Cowell sunning himself on a private yacht in St Tropez. Whilst a cruise holiday can take us to some of the celebs’ favourite places, Celebrity Cruises’ Jet Set Sail experience is known as the only service that can get you there in the exclusive style favoured by Hollywood’s finest.
Celebrities don’t mess about with parking, security queues and lengthy waits at the boarding gate, not to mention hours spent hanging around before departure. Instead, they arrive at the doors of a private aircraft terminal, breezing through security in minutes and disappearing into a swanky lounge with their entourage. They really have it rough don’t they?
Having heard great things about the Jet Set Sail service and knowing that flights offering it had doubled from six in 2016, to 12 in 2017, I couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about. And so, at the ungodly hour of 6.00am on Saturday morning, I hopped on a minibus and prepared for Celebrity Cruises to ‘get me to the Greek’.
We drove into Stansted’s private terminal area and arrived at the doors of the Inflite Terminal. We breezed through security in minutes. Six minutes, to be precise. And then, just like the Mr Clooney himself, we disappeared into a swanky lounge, albeit without an entourage.
Swanky is a word not often associated with airports. They’re usually grey, sterile places, save for the familiar glow of a Wetherspoons or the bright blue of Boots. Sleek chrome, glitzy crystal and Quality Street purple are not terms I’ve ever used when writing about any other airport.
Stansted’s Inflite Lounge is not any other airport.
Sitting in a velvet armchair, with a cappuccino and warm pain au chocolat, was arguably the best start to a holiday you’ll ever have. And yes, I am calling 24 hours in Athens a holiday, as the feeling of coming home from 30-degree heat to a VERY rainy Yorkshire is equally upsetting, however long you have been away for!
Check in for the Jet Set Sail service is just an hour and parking is right outside the terminal (and it’s FREE! Take that, hefty airport hotel parking prices). In what felt like minutes, we were called to the boarding gate. And by boarding gate, I mean plush reception area, decorated in the same sleek style you’d expect from a high-end boutique hotel. Our passports were checked and we stepped outside, where our Titan Airways plane was waiting just a few feet from the door, ready to whisk us away to join Celebrity Equinox in Piraeus.
The service on board was fantastic and the food was excellent; no plastic cups here, only proper cups and saucers, cold drinks in glass flutes and real cutlery with your meal. A two-course breakfast was served – fruit salad followed by a good old English breakfast – and we all settled in to enjoy the extra leg room (with which the taller guys in the group were particularly impressed!).
Three hours later, I landed at Athens airport feeling incredibly disappointed. Not with the Jet Set Sail experience, absolutely not, but at the thought that I wouldn’t be experiencing the celebrity treatment on my return flight with EasyJet the following morning. I felt disappointed at the thought of long security queues and distraught at the thought a cheap coffee in a cardboard cup, enjoyed on a steel chair outside a departure lounge café.
The Celebrity Cruises Jet Set Sail service gives you a taste of what it’s like to holiday like an A-lister. Once you’ve experienced travelling like a celebrity, it’s clear to see how Mariah Cary developed her diva ways; the usual airport experience just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.
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