Ditch The Jet: It’s Cool To Fly Commercial

Brad Pitt does it. Lloyd Blankfein does it. Even Justin Timberlake and Prince William do it.

They’ve all ditched their private planes and opted to fly commercial — or, in Blankfein’s case, take the train.

wealth0415_E_20090415110325.jpgAssociated Press
They fly commercial — for now.

Following the GM jet fiasco, the private aircraft business has had an image problem. No one, it seems, wants to be seen or photographed gliding down the steps of their Gulfstream anymore.

So the rich, famous and bailed out have all opted to fly what might be called Conspicuous Conservation Air, lining up with the rest of the unwashed at the nation’s airport security gates and luggage-bin scrums.

Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake apparently favor Southwest. Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton flew commercial to Geneva last month for a skiing holiday. Even more shocking — they flew economy class.

A senior courtier said: “He is determined to get his traveling costs down.”

The shift is especially acute in Washington, where business titans coming hat in hand are especially loath to be seen deplaning from $40 million cost centers. (Hence Lloyd Blankfein’s Amtrak excursions.)

“We’re hearing stories that people are very concerned about flying to Washington, because of the potential for being targeted by the media and the politicians,” John Meehan, a private-jet terminal manager at Washington Dulles, told NPR.

Of course, all that public thrift is costing jobs in the private aviation sector. As aviation consultant Michael Boyd told NPR, his industry is suffering a “congressional and government jihad.”

“[I would] call up Congressman Snort and say, ‘Stop denigrating my industry and stop lying about it. These are not tools of the devil, these are not tools of evil. Business jets are a very important asset for my company,’” Boyd says.

But for the rich and well-photographed, flying commercial may have just become the most important image tool of all.

Source : https://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2009/04/16/ditch-the-jet-its-cool-to-fly-commercial/

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