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Planes are meant to fly and human are meant to explore.  With that combination, flying private jets can allow individuals fly around the world and enjoy some of the most sought out destinations. 

By Sonny Souvannavong Pilot & Author sonny@vonnjets.com

These worldwide trips can be family holiday or business ventures and at the same time enjoy some of the top rated hotels, resorts and best of all opportunity to try some of Michelin Star restaurants or just simple street foods in various parts of the world.

“I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats.  I don’t intend to waste any of mine” Neil Armstrong

Passengers walking towards a jet

The beauty of flying private jets is that there is no limit to destinations as long as there is a suitable airport.  With that said, I had a pleasure of arranging some of the most interesting flights around the world with a various types of jet aircrafts.  Some readers have asked what it takes to arrange a worldwide flight and what to expect from this flight experience.  Well, here we go.

Pool Villa View – Kudadoo Maldives Private Island

Just the thought of packing suitcases, preparing different type of clothing and attire for the occasion, travel agenda, markdown bucket list of hotels and restaurants, can send adrenaline rushing.  And please don’t forget those passports. 

“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.”  Amelia Earhart

Falcon 8X Landing and taxiing to Shanghai FBO

For the sake of the article, let’s imagine we plan a dream trip around the world and go wherever we desire.  Let’s imagine our trip begins from Asia, travel over Middle East, Europe, USA, and back to Asia.  To be exact, let’s begin our trip around springtime from Bangkok, Thailand fly to Maldives; continue to Moscow; Paris then to New York City and Los Angeles. That would be half way of the flight and then begin from Los Angeles to Hawaii, Japan, Philippines, Bali, and back to Bangkok.  We stay at each city approximately five days for some R&R and submerge in the local food and hospitality.  Ahhh, just the thought is bliss.

Parnaramic View Paris by Night

Prior to the flight there are lots of preparation starting with filing numerous flight plans and permits, inflight services (food, entertainment, etc.), hotels for crew and VIPs, transportation from and to numerous airports, FBO (Fixed Base Operator) for aircraft parking, maintenance, weather services, and lots of back up plans.  In summary, Plan Plan Plan and lots more plans.  As they say in aviation, the next important step is the next two steps. 

As many as 9,000 Aircrafts are in the Sky at Any Given Time Worldwide

Flight planning for something this scale is intense and must be thought through every step.  One must be able to close one eyes, imagine every step from immigration and customs, entering the jet, start up the engines, flight and inflight service, arrive, park, and so forth.   It seems to be straight forward and it actually is.  It just requires absolute experienced flight team to put it all together.  Alright, let’s begin the process.  Usually, it all begins with the mandate of where the principal and guests would like to go.  Then the flight department or in some cases the pilots begin to make the plans.  It would look something like this.

Flight Planning (West Leg): Bangkok > Maldives > Moscow > Paris > New York > Los Angeles

Flight Planning (East Leg): Los Angeles > Hawaii > Tokyo > Manila > Bali > Bangkok

Sonny on Falcon 8X flight descend passing 11,277 meters or 37,000 feet at speed of 1,050 km/h, outside air temp -58C.

Let’s say in our case, we will be using a beautiful Gulfstream G500 with a team of two pilots, an engineer, air stewardess, and also a dispatch person.  These five individuals would work closely to coordinate this flight.  In the case of flight planning, there are many companies that provide these types of service including Universal Weather & Aviation Services, Rockwell Collins Ascend Flight Information Solutions, Honeywell GoDirect Flight Support, EuroFPL, and others.  Some of these entities provide full range of service including fuel, ground handling, inflight catering and so forth.

Side View of Gulfstream G500

Sonny Enjoying a shoe off Flight on Falcon 8X @ FL420 from Bangkok to Shanghai.

Once we have the flight plans and all the appropriate flight permits (over flight and landing permits for all flight legs), a flight plan can be filed which the aviation service providers would gladly do it for us for a fee of course.  Then the important thing is the inflight service.  Since this Gulfstream G500 will be our second home, the inflight catering must be thought through carefully.  Depending on the length of the flight and time of day for departure, inflight catering must be planned out with one meal per day or up to three meals for all guests and include the flight crew. There should also be snacks in between with appropriate drinks.  The next is the entertainment including movies, music, magazines, newspapers, board games, etc.  Then certainly there are the arrival operations, which includes the parking, transport to the FBO, fuel, parking, tech support and so forth. 

View of Aircrafts – Paris Le Bourget FBO

With that said, let’s begin our trip.  We begin with the crew arriving at the aircraft approximately two hours before departure time.  The routine process begins for the crew with preparing the flight.  Verifying all the documentations, checking the aircraft, preparing the inflight services and catering.  The principal and guests should arrive at least 30 minutes before the flight.  They then go through immigration and customs then board the aircraft.  The flight clears by the Air Traffic Control (ATC) for departure with our filed flight plan, taxi, we launch, gear up, and the adventure awaits us. 

Sonny enjoyed a nice Maison Du Chocolat snack on Falcon 8X Flight to Shanghai.  Amazing machine.

Once the plane lands and park, the crew’s job does not stop there.  They must be with the plane until the aircraft is properly parked and secured, sign all the necessary documents, post flight checklist, and begin to plan for the next flight.  Once that process is done, the crew will go through the immigration and customs process according to the rule of that country.  This arrival process alone requires a well-trained and experienced flight crew in order to avoid any potential issue.  Keep in mind, this is not an airline, there is no big support team on the ground, just simply two pilots and an air stewardess and local aircraft services.  As for the crew hotel of choice, they tend to stay at Marriott hotels due to all the international standard rooms, restaurants, amenities, security, and certainly the Internet connectivity.  The crew must be properly rested according to the aviation regulations before the next flight.

Front View of Marriott Hotel – Moscow, Russia

Sonny enjoying a nice meal @ Da Ivo Shanghai after a nice and smooth four hour Falcon 8X flight.

As for the principal and the guests, the process after landing is somewhat similar to the airline arrival except much more plush.  There usually is a VIP van available to pick up the guests from the aircraft with red carpet to escort them to go to FBO for immigration and customs process.  Once that process is finished, they can simply go enjoy their destination and the excitement begins.  Certainly the gastronomy adventure can begin.  Here is the latest list of top 20 restaurants for 2019.

Gaggan Signature Dish – Bangkok Thailand

The 2019 World’s 50 Best Restaurants List

1. Mirazur (Menton, France)
Chef: Mauro Colagreco
2. Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Chef: Rene Redzepi
3. Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo, Spain)
Chef: Victor Arguinzoniz
4. Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand)
Chef: Gaggan Anand
5. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)
6. Central (Lima, Peru)
7. Mugaritz (San Sebastian, Spain)
8. Arpège (Paris, France)
9. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)
10. Maido (Lima, Peru)
11. Den (Tokyo, Japan)
12. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
13. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)
14. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)
15. Septime (Paris, France)
16. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)
17. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)
18. Odette (Singapore)
19. Twins Garden (Moscow, Russia)
20. Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)

There certainly is a good amount of pressure riding on the crew to make sure that the beginning of the next flight goes without any hitch.  The three-member crew will need to repeat all the steps over again from planning all the way to arrival for each leg.  It is certainly a daunting process for many as each flight will begin in a new country, and for an experienced team, it would be business as usual.

Sunset view behind Hollywood Sign – Los Angeles, USA

Well, I hope this article excites some of you and shed some light on how a worldwide flight is prepared. 

Sonny on beautiful Embraer Legacy 500 flight from Bangkok to Phuket

Alright then, safe flying, enjoy your travel, and clear for take off.

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