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Marion wrote: I am a sea lover. Seems to be an interesting cruise. david martin Abrahams would love to travel on it.


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The Ultimate in Air Travel at Your Fingertips
The Ultimate in Air Travel at Your Fingertips

If you've ever flown on a private jet, you know it's an amazing, addictive experience. Most people find it difficult to muster any enthusiasm for commercial flights ever again.

In fact, those blissful memories of your private flight will make the inconvenience and irritations of commercial air travel feel even worse. If you place a high premium on your time and tranquility, a private jet may be a necessity, not an indulgence. For safety, security, and the opportunity to relax or work for hours in comfort, it's the ideal way to fly. If you're in the market for a private-jet trip, a little knowledge will help you make a wise decision.

The Challenge
Lounging in a huge jet seat and stretching your legs straight out in front of you is glorious, but finding the right air carrier and a suitable plane can be a challenge. First, you must decide: air charter, fractional jet ownership or leasing, pre-paid flight cards, or charter auctions? If you don't fly frequently, don't purchase or lease a fractional share. If your travel needs vary significantly from trip to trip, don't commit yourself to one jet; you'll want the flexibility to choose among different-sized planes. You can purchase a flight card for a block of hourly flying time, but this requires an initial investment (up to hundreds of thousands of dollars) and the hourly rates can be extremely high. Online charter auction sites aim to get you the lowest price, but the plane or the carrier may not meet all of your expectations.

The best option-offering flexibility, quality, and choice at a fair price-is often the oldest one, air charter. You can find charter operators and brokers via the Yellow Pages or the Internet. But unless you do some research, it may be hard to judge the quality of those operators and their aircraft. These days, a basic web site and telephone are all anyone needs to enter the broker business and project the image of a much larger company.

OneSky Network: The Air Charter Solution
Finding the right plane at the right price has not been easy-until recently. Enter Greg Johnson, founder and CEO of OneSky Network (www.onesky.com), the New Hampshire-based company that is bringing the air charter industry into the 21st century. OneSky is uniting the country's best carriers into a national network and giving travelers the tools they need to charter private jets with confidence and ease. With OneSky it's a quick, secure, online transaction. (For those who'd rather deal with a "live human," personal travel consultants are available toll-free 24/7. All it takes is a pleasant phone call.)

 As a pilot, an 18-year aviation-industry veteran, and a creative thinker with formidable IT and programming skills, Johnson was the ideal person to build OneSky. A passionate advocate for modernizing the charter industry, he founded OneSky to address the problems facing both private-jet travelers and charter operators. He focused on what was missing in the marketplace: an unparalleled choice of planes and features, a state-of-the-art reservations site, a system to provide preliminary price quotes in seconds, a membership of carriers working together to supply coast-to-coast service, and competitive pricing set by each individual carrier. OneSky.com was designed as the smart choice for luxury and business travel.

"At the premium level of travel," says Johnson, "Consumers should expect not only safety and quality service, but a wide array of choices to ensure their comfort. They should be able to customize their trip for a really outstanding experience. You'd expect this from any first-class hotel, so why not your charter jet? For their peace of mind, travelers should have access to information about the exact plane they're paying for, including photos. And pricing should be fair, not inflated with hidden charges. OneSky provides all that, and more. We are the first- and so far, the only-company to offer all this."

Choose the Perfect Plane in Seconds
OneSky.com's online reservation system is simple to use, yet it allows you to fine-tune your flight to your satisfaction. Helpful explanations of every option are at hand, or you can call OneSky's experienced travel consultants any time. "Our goal was to make it effortless. Actually, our customers tell us it's fun to look at and compare all of those cool planes," says Johnson.

After you enter your trip requirements and check off your preferences on the "Book a Trip" page, OneSky's unique profiling system will select and rank planes from the fleet that are the best matches. This takes only seconds-it's the most robust search engine in the business-and you can study information about each plane, including an estimated price quote for your trip. When you select a plane, the carrier will e-mail you a line-item quote. When you book the flight, you'll receive a firm confirmation of the price. OneSky.com stores your credit card information securely and will charge the trip 24 hours before the flight.

The OneSky fleet includes more than 200 of the finest jets available. Because the same model may have very different features and interiors, OneSky.com posts photographs of every aircraft with full descriptions of features, amenities, and carrier information. The plane you choose will be the same plane you'll fly. It's easy to compare various planes side-by-side and to learn how different features affect pricing.

Johnson says, "With OneSky, you don't have to worry about safety or quality. Our operators are chosen for membership on their ability to provide a superior flight experience on superior aircraft. We examine potential carriers in depth, and we're picky. Our members are among the best in the industry."

For People Who Like Things Just So...
While selecting a plane is easy, more particular travelers will be pleased with the impressive range of options OneSky offers to those who want a lot of choice. OneSky.com lets you choose everything from a heart defibrillator to a DVD entertainment system. "This is new territory for air charter and other flight programs," says Johnson. "It was high time private-jet customers had this level of selection without a lot of extra effort. Our mission is to provide whatever you want, and we store customers' preferences in our database to make future reservations even faster."

After all, it's "your" plane. You pick everything from the menu to the movie, and travel on your schedule. Here's a quick sampling of some of the choices you'll have with OneSky:

Range - Do you prefer a large jet or a smaller one that can handle the route with a fuel stop? A smaller, less-expensive plane may be preferable for shorter trips. OneSky's system presents a selection of light, medium, and heavy jets for you to compare.

Safety - Most of OneSky's carriers exceed FAA requirements, and many are rated by the three most prominent independent auditing agencies: FSF, Wyvern, and ARG/US. These certifications are displayed for each plane along with details about the safety and medical equipment on board.

Cabin Size and Luggage Capacity - Large-cabin jets have seats at least as large as those in airline first-class sections and there is enough headroom to stand. Light jets have smaller seats and less headroom (more of a factor on longer trips). Most planes can accommodate some bulky items like skis or golf bags. If you are bringing oversized luggage, OneSky will make sure your plane can handle it.

Communications - Flight phones are available on many charter aircraft and Internet access is becoming increasingly common. You can choose an aircraft with satellite communications equipment if you wish to make phone calls on overseas flights.

Lavatory Type - Lavatories tend to be more comfortable and private as aircraft size increases. Large-cabin aircraft have airline-style flushing toilets and sinks with running water. Some light jets may not have a lavatory, or it may consist of a special passenger seat that can be curtained off.

Meal Service - Aircraft may be equipped with a refreshment center with snacks and beverages, or a warming oven, or a full galley kitchen with a microwave oven. Meals are available on all aircraft, while larger aircraft are staffed with cabin servers.

In-Flight Entertainment - Request a movie or bring some music to make your flight more enjoyable. Many of OneSky's aircraft are equipped with VCRs, DVD players, and/or CD players. Some have surround-sound systems.

Make your OneSky flight truly memorable with gourmet dining and great wines. You can also arrange to have your favorite newspapers, magazines, and novels on board.

OneSky Saves You Thousands of Dollars Per Hour
While private jet travel will never be inexpensive, you can still use common sense and find the best value. Air charter is almost always a better deal than other flight programs. With flight cards or fractional leasing, you'll probably pay 20 to 50% more per hour than air charter. For example, chartering a late-model Gulfstream IV via OneSky will cost approximately $5,200 per hour on the West Coast. A jet card program charges $9,800 per hour one-way, or $8,200 per hour round trip, for the same plane on the same route.

With OneSky, you pay only for the travel you need, when you need it: there are no up-front investments. And because those member operators are in friendly competition for your business, their pricing stays down to earth.

Jet charter can give you all of the pleasures and benefits of owning a plane, at a fraction of the cost. With OneSky Network on the scene, the perfect flight is at your fingertips. Let's just hope you'll never have to fly commercial again.

For more information, visit OneSky Network at www.onesky.com or call toll-free 866-ONESKY-1 (866-663-7591)

About Lauren Thomas
Lauren Thomas is a freelance writer in Boston.

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