Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journeys taking off in Keflavík airport, Iceland

Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journeys
Above and beyond 


Founded over 60 years ago by luxury expedition trailblazer Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent is driven by the principle of curating five-star adventures and high-end travel experiences. With the launch of their new itineraries this year, we had the opportunity to become a part of what could be the most exclusive club of thrill-seeking jet-setters in the world.

Abercrombie & Kent was – and still is – a private jet journey pioneer, introducing the first-ever Royal Air Tour in 1989, aboard a customised Lockheed L-1011 Tristar jetliner. Today, it is one of the most experienced companies in private jet expeditions, having designed and operated dozens of sell-out programmes on a variety of luxury aircraft to destinations all around the world. They also offer custom-designed jet itineraries for multi-generational families and private groups.

Our journey began at Keflavík Airport in Iceland (the jetliner’s home) as we boarded Abercrombie & Kent’s privately chartered, fully liveried Boeing 757. The plane was once owned by Icelandair, after having served the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service. AV geeks will know it’s an intelligent choice of plane for an expedition, with powerful engines and a sleek, compact design that allows take-off on shorter runways, making it suitable for operation at smaller, more remote airports. With a supercritical aerofoil design, it remains one of Boeing’s most fuel-efficient aircraft in its class since it first took the skies in 1982.

On commercial aircraft, the 757 usually takes around 250 passengers. But this one is customised with just 50 first-class-only, lie-flat, 48cm/19-inch leather seats, each equipped with a personal vibration-based massage system, 4-way adjustable headrest and lumbar support. The seats transform into luxurious 190cm/75-inch flatbeds with an independent ottoman footrest. Its old-school 2×2 configuration means there are seats without direct aisle access, meaning you have to step over your travelling companion’s bed, but that’s somewhat of a first-world (or rather, first-class) problem.

In-flight entertainment comes by way of a tablet and noise-cancelling-headphones combo. Not that we needed it, as it was a very sociable flight. Despite having only known our fellow passengers for less than 24 hours, there was plenty of conviviality onboard. While there was an opportunity for privacy, there was also a noticeable team spirit, encouraged by A&K’s experienced and easy-going staff. Throughout the 8-hour flight to Portland, Oregon, where the plane would be prepped to receive its first scheduled Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journeys guests, staff and passengers alike wandered around the cabin, exchanging their stories and reception to the trip. This bonhomie seemed to occur naturally – as you imagine it would with a group of guests embarking on an expedition that fetches a six-figure price tag per person – but the A&K team are deft at creating friction-less guest experiences and cotton-wooling their travellers in their brand of signature luxury.

A&K Private Jet Journeys passengers just show up at a designated start point, and the rest happens seamlessly and effortlessly. With the ‘White Glove Passport and Visa Handling Service,’ they can bypass lengthy customs and security lines, and the Travelling Bell Boy® Luggage Handling service ensures worry-free luggage porter assistance, eliminating the need for passengers to handle or carry their own belongings. These services weren’t quite ready for us mere mortals, but we were given access to the VIP lane in Reykjavik’s already quiet airport. Once on board, however, the dedicated cabin crew (providing a crew-to-guest ratio of 1:7) stood by, ready to cater to every whim, refilling champagne flutes with Dom Perignon and even helping us rescue our mobile, which had slipped down inside the chair due in part to our excitement, but also to the surprisingly small amount of stowage space for personal belongings within the seating area.

Then there’s the Traveller’s Valet® Complimentary Mid-Journey Laundry Service, and of course, all food and drink, and custom-crafted culinary experiences are included in the package. An executive chef also travels with the group to oversee the in-flight culinary programme. We were treated to a full 3-course menu on real crockery with metal cutlery. A&K also ensures that every journey has a dedicated physician who is at hand to deal with any medical situation. Thankfully, there was no call for us to use that facility, but it’s a very nice addition to the service as it shows a commitment to making the journey accessible to people of different abilities. It is the sort of treatment usually reserved for Heads-of-State or A-list celebrities, to travel with your own dedicated staff – a tried and tested, refined and constantly improved upon formula, and A&K have nailed it.

Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journeys encompass far more than simply moving between destinations. Each stop along the way has been meticulously planned, and the accommodations and staff at each location are hand-picked – no easy task, considering the remote and varied nature of the itineraries. And when locations don’t already have accommodation of the expected standard, the A&K team will create one, taking over the entire operation of hotels, replacing linen and toiletries, training staff and bringing in their own where necessary to ensure a seamless guest experience. They even employ tour directors for every journey so that they can continually be one step ahead in preparing for the tours – ironing out any potential issues.

Each Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journey takes a different emphasis, but at the end of each flight, some of the most exciting, one-of-a-kind experiences that the planet has to offer, await. Some journeys might focus on seeing some of the last remaining members of endangered species first-hand, while others take a more cultural angle, providing guests with unparalleled access to some of the world’s most exclusive destinations. But all are put together meticulously by a dedicated A&K team who spend months – sometimes years – planning each and every moment and every possible eventuality, ensuring a level of luxury that most of us can only dream of.

With these trips being all about creating incredible memories, a ‘photo enrichment coach’ is always on hand to help guests make the most of the many once-in-a-lifetime photographic moments as they unfold.

The on-journey team is led by an experienced Tour Director, hand-picked from A&K’s pool of highly skilled, diverse and international staff, who oversee the itinerary from start to finish. We were in the safe hands of John Niva, whose easy demeanour and quiet confidence set the tone for the journey. There was no noticeable hierarchy here; each member of the team seemed equally at ease with one another and the guests.

This informal atmosphere made the experience seem much more like a family or group of old friends travelling together. And it’s easy to envision strong bonds forming among travellers during these journeys. It was akin to a team-building exercise, albeit with encounters with snow leopards upon landing in Central Asia and exclusive access to little-known and rarely visited world heritage sites like the Keta Taisha Shrine in Japan, nestled in the depths of the highly sacred ‘Untrod Forest.’ We can see this being an unforgettable way to mark a major life event, be that a milestone birthday shared with close friends, or a significant anniversary with a partner (or two).

Of course, in any group, there are bound to be differences in preferences, requirements and abilities. It is something the A&K team is very aware of and caters to by providing a choice of activities, menus and assistance where needed. They take time to consult with each guest beforehand to establish these differences and work to ensure every guest comes away from the trip with their expectations not just met but exceeded.

As you can imagine, the cost to join one of the Abercrombie & Kent Private Jet Journeys is substantial (if you need to ask, you can’t afford it). But the outlay represents the privilege of exclusivity, luxury, and – for those who usually only fly commercial – the convenience of traversing the world and engaging with its hard-to-reach wonders while being wrapped in unparalleled levels of comfort, privacy and personalisation. And with the spellbinding itineraries built from A&K’s 60 years of direct experience, we feel it’s well worth it.

But for us, the ultimate must-do option is ‘Around the World with Geoffrey Kent’, which Kent – arguably the world’s best-travelled human – personally curates and hosts. This year he has put together a mind-blowing trip, which begins with a high-altitude polo match in Ladakh. Travellers will then have the opportunity to go off-road and follow the route of the Dakar Rally in a 4×4 vehicle; enjoy a sunset cocktail atop a spectacular dormant volcano; and experience a private visit to the Lascaris War Rooms and the underground tunnels used to move materials in wartime Malta. Not only will you get to experience his world of travel and exploration, but you’ll also undoubtedly hear him recounting stories of his 6 decades of adventures. It doesn’t get more ‘OutThere’ than that.


Photography by Andrew Urwin and Martin Perry, and courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent

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