Many an avgeek has often dreamed of having the money to book their own private jet, but few have actually done it. But, for one passenger in the US this week, the private jet experience cost no more than a standard economy class ticket. Here’s how a Washington DC resident flew all by herself on an American Eagle flight.
A surprise private jet
Sheryl Pardo, a local resident in the Washington DC area, wasn’t keen to travel amid the coronavirus outbreak, but after hearing that her Mom didn’t have long left to live decided she just had to see her one last time. Sherly booked a flight from Regan National to Boston, where her Mom was in a nursing home, traveling with American Eagle.
Arriving at the airport all went smoothly; the flight wasn’t canceled and appeared to be operating on time. However, on boarding the aircraft, Sheryl was in for a big surprise. She was the only passenger on board!
My story of visiting my mom during the pandemic made the news!https://t.co/BuNekpVW0E
— Sheryl Pardo (@spardova) April 1, 2020
After getting a complimentary upgrade to first class (because, why not?) Sheryl enjoyed a personal safety briefing from her flight attendant Jessica. Well outnumbered by the crew on the plane, Sheryl surely enjoyed some excellent service during the flight, even getting a shout out from the crew for their very special passenger.
The American Eagle flight appears to be operated by an Embraer E190. While it’s one of the smallest planes in the American Airlines fleet, it’s usually occupied by close to 100 passengers. For one single passenger, that’s a heck of a lot of seat choices right there. You can see more of her story in the video below.
Slumping travel demand
While Ms. Pardo might have enjoyed her private jet flight, for American Eagle, it’s not a great sign. The flight would have operated at a massive loss, with the cost of her ticket likely barely even covering the expense of one flight attendant, let alone the pilots, fuel and all various fees.
Speaking to Fox5 Washington, Pardo noted that there was no price gouging in effect here. Despite booking her ticket very last minute, she felt she’d been charged a fairly standard price for the flight. As such, this was a very costly operation for American, and slightly surprising that it was not outright canceled.
There is some confusion in the airline industry in the US right now, as the government has confirmed a $50bn bailout for airlines, a scheme known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, in order to access these funds, airlines must maintain flights to destinations in their route network, even if there is little or no demand for the services.
While the terms and conditions of the bailout may well be getting misinterpreted, right now there is a real risk US airlines will be flying empty planes around in order to maintain access to the bailout. As such, it’s unlikely Ms. Pardo will be the last passenger to enjoy the private jet experience over the next few weeks.