Today’s Q&A is with Andrew Collins, President and CEO of Sentient Jet, one of the world’s most up-and-coming private aviation companies. Today’s interview is also particularly timely, as this weekend marks one of the most popular private aviation weekends of the year, the Kentucky Derby. Sentient is the official sponsor of the Derby, Oaks and Churchill Downs.
Tell us a bit about Sentient Jet, and what makes it different from other private flight companies?
As inventor of the Jet Card model, we revolutionized the industry, for the first time allowing travelers to fly privately by paying only for the time that they used. Our Jet Card offers luxurious, private jets to bring you anywhere you want to fly, plus 24-hour concierge service to coordinate every detail. With the jet card, travelers receive 25 hours of flight time on their choice of jet size and category, including jet fuel costs (with rate locked in for 12 months), with guaranteed availability in as little as 10 hours. We have worldwide reach and travel to any airport with a 5,000+ foot runway.
Is Sentient doing anything special for this most popular flying weekend of the year?
We are sponsoring Nyquist in his quest for a Derby championship this weekend. As avid supporters since his win at the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, we are especially excited to cheer him on!
We were also recently named the Preferred Private Aviation Partner of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and Churchill Downs, and, as part of the partnership, we are launching Derby Air powered by Sentient Jet, a white-label aviation service that allows guests of the Mansion at Churchill Downs to book private travel to and from Louisville. We are also extending the Derby experience to all Cardholders attending the event with in-flight hospitality elements, including mini-bars outfitted with ingredients for Mint Juleps and Oaks Lilies. Our Cardholders also had access to purchase tickets to the exclusive, invitation-only Mansion at Churchill Downs through the partnership, and we launched a Kentucky Derby-themed flight card as well.
When one is invited to fly private, what’s the etiquette? Do you tip the captain? The servers? Pay for food?
Typically, your host handles tipping but it’s also fine for you to tip a crew. Usually, it’s best to give the tip to the crew member helping you deplane, who will then share with the rest of the crew. I recommend $50 to $100 per crew member, unless you had any special requests, in which case you should increase the amount slightly. This isn’t expected, but it is appreciated.
How should one dress?
When you are invited to fly on someone’s private jet, you are representing them, so my recommendation is to dress up a bit. I typically dress in business or business casual attire.
Any luggage protocol? Are there weight restrictions?
Luggage capacity depends on the jet, but many private jets can have less cargo or baggage space than commercial planes. It’s important to pack as lightly as possible since you don’t know what your host is bringing. If you have any questions on how much you can bring, it’s best to check with your host.
How early should one arrive for a private flight?
As a guest on someone’s private jet, the first thing you should do is get to the airport early. Even though it’s private travel and you don’t have to deal with security lines, you really want to show up 30 minutes prior to departure.
Any in-air tips?
Flying private isn’t an excuse to drink heavily, so make sure you if you are drinking you are keeping in line with your host. Similarly, with regard to in-flight entertainment, it’s best to see if the host suggests watching something before using the TV. You should also check with your host before posting anything about the trip on your social media channels because of the confidential nature of private flying.
What about bringing a hostess gift? Is that customary?
I don’t believe a gift is always necessary, but getting invited on a private jet is similar to receiving a dinner party invitation, so a similar gift, such as a bottle of wine, is a nice gesture.
Who’s your Derby pick?
Naturally, all our bets are on Nyquist this weekend!
Do you have a favorite thing to do in Kentucky?
I fell in love with Kentucky’s southern hospitality and breathtaking landscape when I traveled to Keeneland in Lexington last year for Breeders’ Cup. While there, I had the opportunity to spend time at WinStar Farm, where I met the famed Tiznow, an American Thoroughbred Hall of Fame inductee and the only racehorse to have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice. I am also very much looking forward to experiencing first-hand the tradition that the Kentucky Derby brings this year.