One writer tests the waters.
The Four Seasons private jet has been called a luxury hotel in the sky—and for good reason. For 11 of the poshest airborne hours of my life last week, I soared aboard the plane from Liberia, Costa Rica to Honolulu, Hawaii. Three days later, I came crashing down like Icarus when four commercial flights over 18 hours transported me from Lana’i back to my home airport in Washington, D.C. From coffee consumption to in-flight entertainment, here’s how the experiences compared.
Complimentary beverage upon boarding
Four Seasons private jet: Dom Pérignon 2006
Commercial: Gulp of tap water from my water bottle, which I filled up in the airport
Four Seasons private jet: After lowering the shades on all five of my seat’s windows, I reclined my white leather seat (designed by Italian craft studio IACOBUCCI) flat, pulled down my Bulgari eye mask, and cuddled up under a Mongolian cashmere blanket.
Commercial: I inflated my neck pillow from Target and tried to sleep, despite the pillow having a slow leak.
Refreshing hot (or cold) towels offered
Four Seasons private jet: Five (and I think Four Seasons staff met later to analyze missed opportunities to have provided more of them)
Commercial: One (a cocktail napkin that I dipped into my water)
Four Seasons private jet: An iced latte, made via the plane’s on-board espresso maker
Commercial: Coffee that reminded me it was time to change my car’s oil when I got home
In-flight entertainment options
Four Seasons private jet: The iPad Air and Bose noise-cancelling headphones provided to all passengers (both for keeps) that connect to an onboard server pre-loaded with movies, music, and shows.
Commercial: Ones available at no extra charge on my Hawaiian Airlines flight included a flight tracker, survey about my flight, and note explaining the location of the USB port… which was next to that same screen.
Four Seasons private jet: Spiny lobster on fennel was the starter, with queen sea bass as the entrée, both prepared by the jet’s executive chef, Kerry Sear. And both paired beautifully with the Kistler Chardonnay 2014.
Commercial: Hawaiian Airlines provided a meal of rice and beans. I think the entrée may have been chicken.
Four Seasons private jet: After opening a quarter-inch cut on my index finger, the journey’s dedicated physician, Dr. Michael Billington, provided a triple antibiotic and bandage. I bravely declined the flight attendant Mark’s offer to divert the plane.
*Commercial:** After a bite of the aforementioned chicken, I closed my eyes and tried to summon calming thoughts.
Interactions with fellow passengers
Four Seasons private jet: Continued bonding with passengers with whom I’d already hiked in a rainforest, seen crocodiles on a riverboat cruise, and ridden a mile-long zip line while staying at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo.
Commercial: Grimaces when the hand of the sleeping passenger next to me kept landing on my thigh.
Welcome upon arrival
Four Seasons private jet: After a short transfer flight from Honolulu to Lana’i, I was greeted at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai with a drink of pineapple and jalapeño juice before being led to my room and shown a private lanai overlooking the Pacific. The room featured teak and zebra-wood decor; and a Toto toilet that has a built-in bidet and dryer.
Commercial: After a short ride from Reagan National Airport to my home, I was greeted by spirited hugs from my two young daughters who—upon hearing of the Toto toilet—then asked, “When can we go to Hawaii?”