OneJet is a newer scheduled commercial airline service that flies among medium-sized cities offering direct service where there is currently only connections. OneJet utilizes 7-8 seat private jets but flies from commercial terminals and offers time savings for a better flying experience than the big carriers do in first class.
Following a failed merger with Ultimate Air Shuttle of Indianapolis, the airline has gone into bankruptcy. Passengers had flights cancelled on short notice and airport authorities were left holding millions in unpaid fees. I am leaving the rest of this review as it is because it was a great experience while it lasted, even if it turned out to be a scam in the end.
I had business in Louisville, Kentucky and was short on time. Living in a city like Pittsburgh, I have to make tough choices when I am short on time. If I travel by air to a non-hub city, I will undoubtedly connect somewhere, have a layover and a second flight to the journey. If I would drive from Pittsburgh to Louisville I could count on seven hours of transit which burns a day to the meeting, the day of the meeting and the day returning.
Flying on American Airlines saved little time. Their comparable flight would leave a little earlier, fly me to Charlotte (books in at 1.5 hours) then layover for a couple of hours to line up my next flight and continue to Louisville on another hour flight or so. That’s 4.5-5 hours depending on how my flights go and at least two opportunities for a delay to or issue to slow my progress. I would also book a coach seat and hope to clear my upgrades, though on such short segments I am really just getting the benefit of the wider seat and it’s a gamble. At least if I was driving I would have the ability to control my fate.
It seemed like a perfect time for a OneJet review and its nonstop service.
With OneJet, it’s just a one-hour nonstop flight gate-to-gate. The seats are wider, the inflight service is roughly the same (they distribute bottles of water and snacks prior to boarding), wifi is free, the flight is direct, it’s around the price for coach – and frankly you feel like a boss.
Unlike SurfAir which operates the California and Texas markets on a subscription basis or JetSmarter which is members-only or empty leg flights, OneJet offers scheduled service. Their fares are fully searchable on Google.com/flights and other Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). It is my experience that their prices are also precariously close to the lowest cost on the market for a coach experience though that’s not what is really being delivered.
Currently, the disparity has expanded and some of the major carriers are closing the gaps. At the time that I booked my flight, it was just $1 more than the option to fly American on a 4.5 hour journey over my 1 hour journey for the direct.
On short notice trips, OneJet is within a few dollars of the competition and worth the premium certainly. With a little more time to make plans, the price delta becomes more profound and OneJet loses one edge of its double-edged sword. A direct flight still beats a connection any day, all other elements being equal.
While guests don’t necessarily need to stop by the counter to retrieve a paper copy of their ticket, I still decided to try it out. With 180 OneJet flights from Pittsburgh International Airport weekly, the carrier averages around 200 available seats per day on flights spread out from morning until night. That means that checkin is fast, friendly and overstaffed.
They roll out the blue carpet for their guests and it’s the smallest thing but it did help to make me feel like a rockstar. Beyond the counter where guests can print their own tickets, there was also help from staff who seemed to be very excited to be working at OneJet. Expedited security processing is part of the ticket and guests can show up pretty late in the process if they have TSA Pre-Check.
As you might imagine, with just 8 available seats (5 seats occupied) the former American Airlines gate (D88) in Pittsburgh was empty. I have found that while lounges are better, waiting for a nearly empty flight in a disused portion of the airport is almost as enjoyable.
I was offered a bottle of Evian and a little snack along with a newspaper of my choice and to gate check my roll aboard which would be unavailable in the cabin anyway due to size and space constraints.
Our closely held group of five made our way down the jet bridge to a mini staircase and onto the tarmac. One staff member collected my bag and placed it in the hold while another led me onboard. The customer service was exceptional.
The seat was as good as I have found on any of the domestic carriers in first. The seat was wide, leather and moved around quite liberally if so desired. During one flight I had someone opposite me and during takeoff and landing leg room was a little tight but not the end of the world. Once we were safely in the air, we were able to swivel our chairs out and give ourselves more room.
From our seats with the cockpit door open, the First Officer came out to give us our briefing. There was a little bit of safety and then some other notes we needed to keep in mind. There was no FA on the flight, there was literally no point both because of the size of the flight and the duration. The pilot also explained that because the pilots would not come into the cabin, that a series of bells would explain when the wifi was coming on and off and how to contact the flight deck in the event of an emergency. The First Officer was polite, to the point, and effective.
Ground staff was pleasant at every turn and helpful all along the way. It felt like a special experience for me as a customer and that they genuinely like what they do. If anything, however, they are over-staffed.
OneJet makes one day trips reasonable and affordable. That gives me up to two days back in a given week for roughly the same price. Not only am I pleased with the direct flight but my employer also appreciates less wasted time in transit and guaranteed wifi during my journey. During the entire process I am only out of communication during takeoff to 10,000 feet and then 10,000 feet down.
And it was a lot of fun. The flight felt fast, private (even though I was not alone on the plane), comfortable, and reasonably priced. Not only would I fly OneJet again for business purposes, I am looking to take my family on a trip on the carrier. Two thumbs way up.
Have you had a chance to fly on a light jet/private jet whether scheduled, empty leg or full charter? Would you take OneJet if they offered flights from your city?