In a wild coincidence, I was offered the chance to experience Textron Aviation’s Cessna Citation Gen2 jets at Farnborough Airport – a place that is a stone’s throw from where I grew up, and where I would stare up at the sky and watch the Farnborough International Airshow. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be boarding a jet at one of the UK’s most exclusive and luxurious private airports – you’ll have seen the terminal and hangar on the big screen if you’ve watched Quantum of Solace or Inception.
This was my chance to have a look at the new Gen2 jets from Textron Aviation, the Citation XLS Gen2 (12 passengers) and the slightly smaller Citation CJ4 Gen2 (10 passengers). Textron Aviation has used feedback from customers during development to create two jets fit for the discerning global traveller in 2022.
Now, the very first Citation jet launched in the 1970s – clearly a very different world – the Gen2 jets have completely redesigned interiors – think high-end luxury car, although you obviously don’t have electric windows. What you will find onboard is a comfortable and stylish passenger cabin that includes wireless charging, USB sockets, and the ability to control the lighting, window shades, entertainment and temperature from your mobile device.
Time to fly
For my test flight, I boarded the Citation XLS Gen2, using the stairs which are built into the door. The ergonomically designed seats are extremely comfortable and you have a dizzy amount of legroom. You also can change the seating configuration, as the seats rotate 180 degrees – so you can easily talk to your fellow passengers (or not talk to them if you prefer) – and they can even be reclined to a lay-flat position if you need to catch forty winks. Of course, if you’re a business traveller, there are really smart foldaway tables that’ll give you the perfect hot desk in the sky. A plethora of cup holders will ensure your beverage is kept safe so you can stay fuelled with caffeine (there’s an onboard coffee machine), or perhaps something more relaxing to toast your holiday destination or latest success!
It was a novel thing to be able to see both pilots throughout the whole flight and to be looking at the runway through the cockpit window for take-off and landing. Due to its size, you do really feel the movement of the aircraft but it was still a pleasant flight. I was genuinely in awe at just how quiet the cabin is during flight, even with jet engines roaring behind my head – a lot of work has gone into insulating the cabin to prevent engine noise, and also to remove the shakes, rattles, and squeaks you have on a commercial airliner – there were no loose plastic panels on this plane and the windows were spotlessly clean allowing great views on our 50-minute flight to Wales and back.
The private airport experience
The flexibility and practicality of choosing when and where you go is a huge benefit to private jet travel. You’re not constrained by commercial airline timetables and subjected to their delays and staff shortages. Private airports are able to offer a much faster boarding experience as well – while waiting in the Farnborough terminal, I saw several passengers arrive by car, sit in the departure lounge for a quick drink, then go straight out to their aircraft – there’s no arrival 3-hours before departure here!
Things I didn’t know about private jet travel
During the pandemic, private jet travel dramatically increased, and this is set to continue due to the health safety of travelling in relative isolation with your selected passengers. Something I didn’t know, and quite a nice advantage – you’ll actually be less fatigued/jet-lagged on a private jet because the cabin has higher pressurisation than commercial carriers.
Now, in terms of pricing, travelling by private jet is going to be more expensive than a commercial ticket, but if there’s enough of you to fill a plane, you’re probably looking at something comparable to business class tickets when chartering.
In a nutshell
Owning your own jet is a lofty status symbol that most of us probably won’t achieve, but it’s still possible to have the benefits of the private jet experience by sharing or chartering one, and you can even buy individual seats through various apps (or get your PA to do it for you).
To discover more, visit txtav.com
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All images courtesy of Textron Aviation.