This issue features a Q&A with Johan Kruger, our Reservations Manager around the topic of VIP charters.
Q: What advice do you have for consultants when they are looking to book their VIP clients (celebrities, heads of state, diplomats) on a charter.
A: Often the most critical issues are exclusivity, convenience and privacy. All of these make the Fireblade Hangar at O.R Tambo International Airport the perfect option – especially now that they can also cater for international departures. Even more upmarket than their downstairs lounge, they have the VIP upstairs facility which includes a full meal, access to the gym & showers/change rooms and a few optional day rooms. I think this would possibly be the most significant charter selling point for VIPs and celebrities.
In terms of convenience there is off course the option of often flying directly to (or much closer to) the lodge or establishment being visited – making use of private airstrips – rather than the nearest larger airport where you are also bound by scheduled times (and possible crowd congestion), saving on travel time and increases privacy.
Q: What extra special touches can be added to increase the experience for the Private Sky Charter VIP passenger?
A: To make things even more exclusive, we can also offer unique add-ons such as champagne onboard or specialised drinks, special-request meals and platters or even more beautiful things such as a rose for the ladies.
Q: Celebrities or high-profile passengers travel under pseudonyms. How do you handle such cases?
A: We legally require the names as per passports for international departures (even if it is just for the customs/immigration documentation), however, we can accept pseudonyms on domestic departures. We can provide a specially arranged advance check-in service to appease formalities. Through close communication with our international departure facility, the Fireblade Hangar, we secure an exceptional level of privacy.
Q: How do you handle excess luggage. Some folks struggle with the baggage restrictions on non-scheduled flights.
A: Safety first. Where an aircraft is at its carrying capacity with luggage and passenger, the general limit is 20kg’s per person in soft bags only. With fewer than maximum passengers, there is some flexibility; there is the option of adding additional luggage allowance (or even staff) to the journey. In some instances, we send most extra luggage by road.
Q: Do you have limitations in terms of the maximum distance you can fly VIP clients regionally?
A: We do not have specific limitations in terms of the length of a regional leg. With the correct aircraft, we can reach all of Southern Africa’s notable tourism destinations even up to Central Africa non-stop or with possibly just one fuel stop as the distances increase.
Q: Can you walk us through the transit procedure from a VIP’s international arrival to your Fireblade departure facility at O.R Tambo International Airport?
A: When we have clients arriving on inbound flights, we book Menzies Aviation, our preferred meet and greet service provider. Meeting the clients airside adds value to the guest experience. Their arrival is fast-tracked by a Menzies staff member meeting the clients as they disembark from the flight to assist the clients with collecting their luggage and then guiding them through customs and immigration. Menzies then hands the clients over to one of our Private Sky Charter staff members in the arrivals hall. We escort them to the private transfer vehicle, which then takes them across to the Fireblade Hangar. Once at Fireblade, they can have a refreshing beverage and some light snacks. They can make use of the free Wifi while they wait for their flight to board. There are no formal check-in procedures and no security queues so, overall, it is a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Contact us for your VIP clients’ private charter needs and enjoy peace of mind.