Depending on where you live, owning a private jet makes a statement about someone that can be either good or bad. In some parts of the world private jet ownership is viewed as a sign of economic achievement, higher social class, or even a necessity for business. In other parts of the world jet owners are viewed as greedy, self-consumed, and unable to relate to the average person.
In Cannes, France, for example, the annual film festival attracts the rich and famous from all over the world. Hollywood actors and actresses fly in on their private jets by the dozens, with adoring fans eagerly anticipating their arrival. Though Cannes at times seems to be an obnoxious display of wealth and privilege, few look on the private jet use by celebrities as anything but a necessity. After all, could we expect Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchet to travel by commercial air?
On the other end of the spectrum, let's take a look at U.S. auto makers who were summoned to Washington in late 2008 to testify about the state of the auto industry. One CEO after another arrived on a private jet only to testify before Congress that his company would go bankrupt with federal aid. The American news industry picked up on the jet issue and blasted the auto executives for weeks after. The heavy criticism eventually took its toll, becoming a public relations nightmare for the big auto makers and as a result, subsequent trips to Washington by the same CEOs were made by commercial flights or car.
One of the areas where private jet ownership is very much taboo is in the realm of religious organizations. Internationally known organizations like the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Kenneth Copeland Ministries, along with individuals like Benny Hinn and Ed Young, routinely live lives of luxury which include private jets. Faced with accusations of using donation money improperly, these religious organizations defend the need for private jets to further their work. Whether it's true or not, it's not looked upon as a wise use of money that could otherwise go to help the needy.
Other charitable or quasi-government agencies which are not necessarily religious in nature have had their own public relations problems involving privet jets. The United Nations relief effort for Haiti comes to mind, though a strong argument could be made for necessity in this case.
So what is it that sparks such varied reactions about private jet use? More than likely it is just public perception. If people believe owning or chartering your own plane is a necessity for your business, they are less likely to have negative feelings. On the other hand, if a private jet seems to be unwarranted, or even unwise in a given circumstance, don't expect public opinion to be very favourable.
Owners of private jets will experience a variety of reactions no matter where they travel. The one positive thing they can expect however, is the convenience, luxury, and enjoyable travel that comes with owning one's on plane. As soon as the cabin door closes and the aircraft begins to taxi down the runway, what other people think suddenly becomes irrelevant. Your private jet is your travel sanctuary; regardless of public opinion.
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