Can an airline ever realistically hope to match the level of service and intimate environment a private jet offers? Silverjet Aviation thinks it can, and in January it launched what it calls Silver Service between London and New York with a dramatically modified Boeing 767-200. It might not be a private jet, but in terms of cabin comfort and amenities, it isn’t far from it, and on price it’s more than competitive.
There are one hundred 6-foot 3-inch-long flatbed seats, a wide choice of classic and newly released on-demand movies, noise-canceling headsets, pre-ordered special meals, electrical outlets at each seat, one flight attendant per 10 passengers, a women-only lavatory and chauffeured ground transportation.
On night flights, the airplane cabin is designated a quiet zone to make it easier for passengers to sleep. Overhead lights remain off from takeoff to landing, and each breakfast is individually served near the end of the flight without the use of service carts. A “Breakfast Express” option allows passengers to leave the airplane with a cup of hot coffee or tea.
Passengers can go online (www.flysilverjet.com) to select a seat and choose from among the menu selections for meals.
To facilitate passenger processing and boarding, Silverjet has its own “private jet facility at London Luton Airport.” On the other side of the pond, the airline has its own separate passenger processing area and a private lounge at New York Newark Liberty International.
According to Andria Piekarz, president of Silverjet U.S., the total time from curb-side check-in to boarding, including TSA security screening, is about 30 minutes for passengers with only carry-on luggage and 45 minutes for those with checked baggage. At both departure points, there is no passenger loading process and travelers can board the airplane and settle in at their leisure.
As for pricing, non-refundable, one-way tickets with some restrictions are $899.
A “fully flexible” one-way ticket from Newark to London is $1,249 and round-trip fare is $1,798.
By way of comparison, Lufthansa German Airlines all-business-class roundtrip service from Newark to Dusseldorf, Germany (598 miles farther) is priced at $2,860.
Lufthansa was the first airline to offer such service, launched in 2002 between Newark and Dusseldorf using a Boeing Business Jet. Two other all-business-class airlines have since entered the field–Eos and MaxJet–both offering service between JFK International Airport and Stansted Airport northeast of London, and both offering
a higher level of service and amenities than Lufthansa’s all-business-class flights. In late February, the price of a round-trip ticket with the fewest restrictions on an Eos
Boeing 767ER from JFK to Stansted was listed at $5,830. On the same dates MaxJet was offering a restricted, round-trip fare of $2,942, also using a reconfigured Boeing 767.
Silverjet bills itself as a “carbon neutral” operation, based on a mandatory carbon-offset contribution included in the ticket price. The contribution is passed along to various environmentally friendly projects. “For too long, airlines have shied away from their responsibilities to reduce the carbon impact of flights upon the environment,” said Silverjet CEO Lawrence Hunt. “It is our hope that other airlines will follow our lead.”
According to Piekarz, Silverjet is currently operating one flight a day with the single 767. A second 767 is scheduled to enter service by late spring or early summer, adding a second daily flight. The first airplane was acquired through Silverjet’s UK-based vacation charter subsidiary, Flyjet. Britax Heath Tecna of Bellingham, Wash., and Zodiac subsidiary Sicma Aero Seat of France provided the interior completion.