A few months ago I had a business trip to Orlando. The convention was right smack in the center of Disney World so I began planning early how I was going to bring the kids and kill two bird with one stone. I mean, taking your kids to Walt Disney World is a mandatory parenting right of passage made difficult by the fact that I would rather gargle hot coals than actually GO to Disney World. So a business trip was a perfect scenario. I attend meetings and conferences, and our awesome new au pair Mis Nik takes them all over the god forsaken place. And? I get the room paid for!
I am not a Disney girl. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Disney industrial complex, the princess fantasy bs*, or in general, the merchandising and commercial aspects of their business that (I am assuming) are the most profitable. That being said, one of my best friends lives and breathes for Mickey Mouse.
When I got the itinerary for the trip, he was the first person I called for advice. He was so excited about the idea of my children at Disney World, that he volunteered to come with us and take them around. (YAY!) And then he volunteered his partner. And then his partner pressured my husband to come too. And then they invited more people and it became a "thing." So much of a thing that they said..."We'll just rent a plane." (Did you know that you can rent a plane the way people rent cars? No? Me neither.) You can, and it is amazing. It is air travel the way God intended. (You know what is also amazing? Having filthy rich friends. Hey guys! I love you!)
Since I was new to this whole private aviation thing and asked alot of dumb questions, here is what you need to know for the next time you get the invitation:
1) You can bring whatever you want
Me: Can I bring my big shampoo? (Yes.) Can I bring juices for the kids? (Yes) Can I bring a razor to shave my legs......
Friend: Honey, you can bring a loaded gun.
There is no security. There are no lines, no TSA pat downs or body scans. There is just you, the plane and the pilot. This is because.....
2) You don't go through the airport
Private planes take off from those small air parks and air fields you see off the side of the road and always wonder about. It couldn't be easier. You drive up and park your car. A nice guy in Dockers and an FAA badge comes over, welcomes you and takes the bags to put them in the back of an impossibly small aircraft. You'll want to bring your nerve pills. Which brings us to...
3) It's about the Size of Tommy Bradford's Eight is Enough Van
The pilots were sitting in front of us the whole time while I swiveled back in forth in a big leather chair. Do you all remember those big conversion vans from the 80s? The ones with the recliners in the back, carpet on the walls and a little table to play Crazy 8s? My neighbors had one and it was like a living room on wheels, curtains on the windows and everything. Private planes are THE SAME THING. Only in the sky. I fully expected the pilot to turn around and yell, "If I have to stop this plane!" but he didn't. They were both very nice. We got in, we took off, we landed. Road trip! Or, in this case Cloud trip!
4) You set the schedule.
Me: "We're late! What time does the plane leave?"
Friend: "The plane leaves when I tell the plane to leave." (You can go ahead and re-read that last line. I'll wait. The synapses of my brain just would not transmit that information. There was an audible "fzzt fzzt" sound. What? What do you mean? You TELL the plane when to leave? Aren't there...like... schedules with air traffic control and things like that? I have no idea how it works. It is is all a wonderful combination of automatic and magic that I like to call "Automagic.") Pulling up to a plane, hopping in and taking off shaves hours off of your travel time.
4) You will never want to fly commercial again.
The only thing easier is teleportation. I do actually have concern that the children were exposed to this insane luxury so young. On the way back to the airport, after what turned out to be a delightful trip, Beck asked "We get our own plane again, right?"