Aero Semi-Private Flyer Offers Hassle-Free Alternative to Commercial Flights: Travel Weekly
A flight from Los Angeles to Aspen, Colorado takes less than two hours. For anyone doing this on a commercial carrier, it means getting to the airport about 90 minutes before takeoff, going through security and then waiting in a crowded terminal.
But I took the trip with the recently launched semi-private carrier Aero, where all the worst things about flying go.
Aero launched in the US in early 2021 and currently flies from Los Angeles and San Francisco. From Los Angeles, it serves the leisure destinations of Aspen; Sun Valley, Idaho; Los Cabos; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. From San Francisco, it flies to Aspen and Los Cabos, Mexico. Its model debuts in London this month, with flights to Nice, France, and Ibiza, Spain, from Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England, and it will reintroduce flights from Ibiza to Mykonos , in Greece, where Aero was first launched in 2019.
Aero flights to LA depart from the private Van Nuys Airport, about 20 miles north of LAX. Passengers can be dropped off or park right outside the Aero “terminal”, which is really just a lounge with modern decor and comfortable seating, soft pop music and a counter stocked with Nespresso coffee, complimentary pastries and soft drinks. Passengers are encouraged to arrive no later than 20 minutes before take-off.
The Van Nuys Airport Aero “terminal” is a modernly decorated lounge, with comfortable seating and complimentary snacks and drinks. Photo credit: Photo TW by Johanna Jainchill
Recording and relaxing
Our bags were taken away as soon as we arrived and check-in consisted of one of the very friendly Aero reps coming over to check my ID and weigh my carry-on with a hand scale while I sipped my coffee in a wingback chair.
There was no security line or metal detectors, and when it came time to board, it took less than a minute to walk from the lounge to the plane – a sleek black jet with accents yellows, oranges and reds – and up a short set of scissor stairs.
Aero’s 16-seat jet interior offers plenty of legroom. Photo credit: Photo TW by Johanna Jainchill
Once on board, the pilot took the time to let my 8 year old son sit in the cockpit and hold the controls. The 16 seats are about the width of the business class interior, but with only one on each side of the plane, no one can overtake. There’s more legroom than anyone would need for a flight under two hours, and the gray leather seats recline almost flat. The small plane was spacious, partly because there were only a handful of passengers on board, but also because the seats were well spaced out.
The planes don’t have video screens or WiFi, a fact we were made aware of while waiting to board, but it wasn’t a problem on such a short flight. As short as it is, Aero offers a comprehensive list of wines, beers, and spirits along with coffee, kombucha, and a basket of snacks.
The worst things about flying – waiting in lines, traffic jams, being crammed in like sardines – don’t exist on Aero. And of course, that comes at a price. A one-way seat from Van Nuys to Aspen sells for $1,800. It’s a bargain compared to what a private flight would cost but more than a first class commercial flight. For many, however, the difference in cost between a premium commercial seat and Aero would certainly justify the benefits of the semi-private flight.
An Aero jet and a staff member at Van Nuys Airport, located about 20 miles north of LAX. Photo credit: Photo TW by Johanna Jainchill
And unlike commercial airlines, Aero representatives also aim to be concierges. Upon arrival, they asked if we needed transportation once we got to Aspen, and they also arranged local accommodation if needed. The company works with local tourism offices, hotels and restaurants, partnering with properties at each destination to provide benefits for its passengers. In Aspen, for example, she works with the luxurious Hotel Jerome.
After enjoying the beautiful desert-turned-Rocky landscape, we landed at the start of a snowstorm. Service in Aspen was as good as it had been in Van Nuys: when our driver couldn’t find us, an Aero representative called to explain where we were. And our bags were waiting for us at the door of the small terminal. As fast and smooth as Aero was, it almost felt like we hadn’t flown at all.