““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
A Trip to Jet Depot
For several years, you’ve been able to book charter flights on the Internet and now, as we’ve reported in Business Jet Traveler, there’s a retail store in London–The Jet Business–where you can actually walk in off the street and buy an airplane.
I think I can see where this trend is headed.
The year is 2050. Joe Jetbuyer calls his local Jet Depot. That’s the 4,257-location chain that Home Depot launched after the number of Silicon Valley and hedge-fund zillionaires mushroomed out of control.
“Please listen carefully, as our options have recently changed,” says a recorded voice. “Press 1 for a Jet Depot store near you. Press 2 to order VVLJs. Press 3 to order supersonic jets. Press 4 for Virgin Galactic spaceships. Press 0 to speak to a ‘live’ robot.”
Joe presses 1, deciding he’s not about to purchase a $250 million airplane (did I mention the inflation spike of 2023?) sight unseen. Then his Google-controlled car drives him to Jet Depot.
“Can I help you?” says the salesman. “We have some great models on special this week.”
“I was looking for that new one from Hawker-Dassault-Bombardier-Embraer-Gulfstream,” says Joe. “The merged company really has built some good stuff.”
“Yes,” the salesman agrees. “But ever since Beijing Industries bought it, we’ve been getting a lot of returns. Still, the price is right: I can let you have that little beauty over there for $289,999,999.99.”
“That’s a bit more than I wanted to spend,” says Joe, “but I have a coupon for $20 million off.” He hands it to the salesman.
“I’m afraid you can’t use that,” says the salesman. “The $20 million discount applies only when you buy three or more. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you have it for $5 million off and no money down. No interest either, if you pay in full within six months. Would you like an extended-protection plan? Repairs can be expensive so I’d definitely advise it.”
“That all sounds pretty good,” says Joe, “but hold on a minute while I check something.” He pulls out his iPhone 43, scans a product barcode on the side of the jet he’s been examining, studies some information on the phone and then looks up at the salesman.
“Sorry,” Joe says. “It’s cheaper on Amazon.”