a man sitting in a plane holding a cup

Fool me once…

In 2014, I saw something that sounded too good to be true, tried it, found out it wasn’t too good to be true, told friends, and then ended up on the news. It turns out – people were kind of amazed that some nobody could take a legitimately free private jet ride, just by taking up a promotion, and when they found out others had done it too, it just sounded crazy. But then I did it again, and again. Here’s an amusing read of how I’ve lived the high life, without being a high roller…

the inside of an airplane with tan seatsJetSmarter 2014

In 2014, I saw that JetSmarter, a self styled “Uber for private jets” was offering ride credit via promo codes, just like their inspiration, Uber. I assumed, like any thinking person would, that these codes could only be redeemed after purchasing some multi thousand dollar (or worse) elite jet membership, but to my surprise, without actually joining… it seemed to work. I was able to add over $1000 of credit for myself, and the same for my wife. Though $2000 doesn’t sound like enough for a jet, the company quite often sold “empty leg” flights, which would fly empty, and therefore were dirt cheap. We booked one, had the plane to ourself, truly unbelievable. Then we blogged about it, and floods of emails came pouring in from people who had taken their own free private jet rides. It was the best feeling, and one that landed us on Good Morning America.

Takeaway: sometimes blogs offer useful information. If you were reading this blog in 2014, you may have taken one yourself.

a white airplane on a runwayJetSmarter 2017

Same name, different game. In 2017, JetSmarter attempted to ramp up operations and pick off disgruntled frequent flyers, many of which can be found on BoardingArea. The company’s offer was simple: if you had a 1,000,000 points in any points currency, or top tier elite status with any airline, they’d give you a three month free membership to see why their service was better than flying commercial. The airline wasn’t so much interested in my British Airways Gold status, and I didn’t have 1,000,000 points – but I had used a status match opportunity I wrote about on this blog to get Alaska Gold MVP 75K status, their highest status. Guess what, it worked – again. And yes, others got in too, because I blogged about it. I took yet another free ride, and actually could’ve taken quite a few more, if I wasn’t so busy writing free content for the internet.

Takeaway: Status match opportunities can be brilliant, even if you don’t see why when you do it. Also, reading blogs can be brilliant, since if you read this blog in 2017, and had top tier status with an airline, you could’ve taken 3 months of free private jets.

a man sitting in a plane holding a cupSurfair 2018

Surfair operates beautiful Phenom 300 jets throughout Europe. The company was also keen to pick off disgruntled business travelers, fed up with delayed flights and long security lanes – so they offered yet another simple opportunity for people who fly too much. If you had top tier status with a European airline, they were prepared to give you a free trial flight, to see what their private jet experience was all about. Who could say no to that? I did it, my wife Laura did it, and we took an amazing free ride. It was particularly funny, because we had used our own tips, flying from a nearby city to where we live to save on a flight to India, and this ride got us home from our cheap deal in much better style than we’re used to. The experience happens to be documented in the main image for this article. And yes, tons of other people got to do exactly the same thing, because again – we wrote about it.

Takeaway: Sometimes those extra flights to earn top tier status are worth it, and if you’ve ever wanted to watch a plane land from the cockpit view, or wanted to know just how cool it is to fly in a private jet – doing so could’ve gotten you in the door. And yes, if you read this blog and had a top tier status with a European airline, you could’ve done it too.

Will I get a fourth? I don’t know. But I never thought I’d get a second, or third, or realistically  – a first. Did you get one of these too?


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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1 Comment

  1. I did the surf air offer thanks to you! 🙂 but was not in their own aircraft so kind of put me off. I was considering using them to ferry people down to my birthday in Barcelona this November but they just kept saying its planned, its planned and it never happened so my business still goes to BA.

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