Last week I mentioned a promotion that Surf Air are running for top tier European frequent fliers. They’re offering a free flight on one of their aircraft.
Yesterday, I got to try it out on their Ibiza to London Luton route. They also run scheduled services to Cannes and Zurich with a number more being planned.
Surf Air schedule their flights at certain times and days of the week, as opposed to a service like Net Jets who are truly flexible in terms of timings and routes, however their pricing reflects that difference. I was booked on the Surf Air flight from Ibiza to London Luton due to leave at 16.00 and arrive at 17.30.
I flew into Ibiza on an Iberia flight and landed at the main terminal around 14.00. A very helpful member of staff pointed out the jet terminal was a five minute walk – I just needed to turn right out the terminal, pass the security check and it would be on my right.
I walked in and looked for signs for their ground partner, Gestair. I have to say I got a little lost, until I asked someone who worked for another one of the FBO operators there – apparently that very day they’d moved into a different part of the building. A very helpful member of the team gave me a bit of a tour of the new facilities that they were in the process of building. When finished, it looks like it will be a fantastic place to wait, including conference room, lounge, sofas etc. They’re also constructing their own dedicated route out on to the apron, with a second security lane (not that the current one was busy at all).
For the meantime, I just relaxed in the current lounge with a glass of water, and caught up on writing yesterday’s post. The member of staff from Surf Air, Jose, popped in to say that there would be one other passenger on the flight today and he would also be coming with us back to London.
Before I knew it, 15.40 rolled around and we were collected and walked through to security. This consisted of our bags being x-rayed and a metal detector arch. Liquids of any size are permitted and we didn’t need to remove laptops or iPads from our bags.
We wandered out to the apron where there was a waiting Mercedes Vito van, however instead of driving us to the aircraft, it took as to the immigration hall; as we were flying to a non-Schengen destination the Spanish police need to check our passports. There was a waiting officer and a few seconds later we were taken back out the entrance to the van and off to the aeroplane.
A few moments later, we were approaching the Embraer Phenom 300 that was going to be taking us back to London. My fellow passenger seemed just as excited as I was, so spent the next few minutes taking the odd picture.
The interior of the aircraft was larger than I expected. It should quite conformably seat six people as they have configured it. It also has a small lavatory at the back of the aircraft, with privacy screen and sink. There’s also a very useful power socket for charging devices.
As soon as we boarded, the captain gave us a safety briefing including exits, oxygen masks, seatbelts and smoking. And with that done, we were off.
The Captain explained that we’d be cruising at 43,000 feet and out flight time would be slightly under 2 1/2 hours.
The member of the Surf Air team, Jose, who was on board was exceptionally helpful. They had a full bar on board and some snack packs to nibble on.
If I was being hyper-critical, this is the one (very small) area that I felt could have been improved. The contents of the boxes seemed fairly unhealthy and pre-packaged. It reminded me of what the US carriers tend to serve in domestic first on shorter segments. A fresh wrap or sandwich, or possibly a piece of fruit would have been preferred. The Sipsmith and tonic was very welcome. However catering is not why people choose a service like this so I feel slightly churlish mentioning it.
And with that the flight passed very quickly and before long the seatbelt sign illuminated for our descent in to Luton.
We parked up at the Signature Flight services FBO and walked in to see the immigration officer from the UKBA. With that, I was in the UK and was driven down to the railway station where the normal Thameslink service (i.e. delays and short-notice cancellations) was running.
Surf Air have a fantastic product. All of the staff were utterly brilliant too. I think their current network is an interesting choice – what’s telling is that they’re expanding their Zürich service to daily from the end of the month; this doesn’t surprise me. With both the business traffic and ski passengers in the winter this should be a really great choice.
Ibiza and Cannes I suspect may not do so well during the off-season indeed my fellow passenger had some suggestions to Jose on that point.
If you’re commuting to one of their destinations on a weekly basis then this is a no-brainer. Their pricing is very competitive with the full-service carriers fully flexible business class.
However with Surf Air you get speed, discretion and the minimum of fuss in addition to everything you would flying commercial. Ultimately that’s why people choose a service like this and it absolutely delivers.
I believe they’re looking to source a second aircraft quite soon, so I’m very interested to see where they go to next.
If you’re interested in joining, or to find out more, then do drop them an email – they’re all very helpful.