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Aristocratic aircraft take off

Updated: Apr 19

By Adrian Tomaszewski Apr. 3, 2024


As Super Bowl LVIII came to a sudden and exciting end, air traffic control officers spotted flight radar screens light up with little green dots shooting out of Las Vegas, radiating out in every possible direction. These dots were not birds, but rather private jets containing a striking number of A-list celebrities ranging from singers like Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga to actors like Brad Pitt and Henry Cavill. 


Yunseo Kim art

The history of private jet travel goes back to the first flight of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. In the early 20th century, almost all airplanes were used for either personal enjoyment or military use, since they were simply too expensive and impractical to use commercially. The introduction of the relatively cheap and reliable Lear 23—known more commonly as the Learjet—in 1964 began the trend of celebrity jetmania, with Frank Sinatra being the most famous jet aficionado. 

Most importantly, private jets save time for the flier. For the price of $495,000—around $5 million in today’s money—celebrities could avoid all the car traffic on the ground, the slow and destination-limited railcars when one travels by rail and the geographical limits of traveling by yacht or boat. Even when compared to commercial airlines, private jets save time, as they allow passengers to bypass fussy security clearances and the associated two-or-so-hour wait necessary at the airport before boarding the flight. While a private jet flight, and the plane itself, is expensive, ranging from $2,000 to $14,000 per flight hour, when one’s time becomes worth more than that—say a singular concert paying $20,000 an hour—buying a jet becomes an obvious financial choice. 


For celebrities especially, a primary reason for buying a jet is to avoid the plague of paparazzi that gathers around every celebrity’s vehicle. Other reasons include the simple comfort of a private jet flight—avoiding the screaming babies and nonexistent legroom when flying commercial—and the flexibility that comes with being able to choose one’s flight times. 


However, these jets are inefficient and environmentally damaging releasing almost five kilograms of carbon dioxide per mile traveled. Private jets, despite accounting for a slim minority of travel, release around 900,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, accounting for almost 1% of all civil aviation’s emissions. Per passenger, private jets pollute almost 14 times more than public aircraft and 50 times more than trains. In a time of increasing climate change awareness, many people have begun criticizing private jet users. 


“If everyone were a celebrity and could afford a private jet, they would always fly private. Who wants to go through the annoyance of public airports and uncomfortable encounters with fans when they can shoo it away with money? However, their ‘time-saving’ measures take time away from future generations’ access to a habitable and safe Earth,” Senior Sonya Prabhoo said. 

The largest target of emission-based arguments against jets is singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, to the point that several people have created private jet trackers specifically for her jet, and thousands have created comedy bits on TikTok mocking her jet usage. Taylor Swift is estimated to have emitted 8,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2022—more than 576 times the average American uses in their entire lifespan. Still, others argue that this level of emissions is necessary to keep up the quantity of concerts she has done during her tours and the volume of music she has released. 


“The Taylor Swift private jet debate is mostly people contriving reasons to dislike her. There are countless others who use their own private jets and she does not deserve such backlash just because of people’s personal opinions about her music and sudden spike in popularity,” Junior Bryant Vo said. 

Other celebrities such as mega preacher Kenneth Copeland have also received backlash related to their exorbitant private jet use. These televangelists lead tax-free megachurches and collect donations to buy private jets that are often used for non-clergy-related flights, such as Copeland’s visit to his $700 million vacation home in a private Fort Worth escape. 


Still, as environmentally-taxing as it is, private jets are certain to stick around in the near future. However, with recent developments in hydrogen-powered aircraft, jet emissions may become a thing of the past, perhaps ushering in another private jet golden age.

 

About the contributors


Adrian Tomaszewski

staff writer


Adrian Tomaszewski is a junior at Leland High School and is a staff writer for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys swimming, cooking, listening to music, ranting about politics to unsuspecting victims, and playing video games.





Yunseo Kim

artist


Yunseo Kim is a sophmore at Leland High School and is an Artist for The Charger Account. In her free time, she loves to snuggle with her cat and eat snacks.

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