Flying the Flexjet way

Nicole García Mérida takes a private jet and helicopter to Prestonfield House in Scotland

Sikorsky helicopter in the air
(Image credit: Flexjet)

I’ve never been apprehensive when it comes to flying, but helicopters are a different story. Thanks to the hours of daytime television I’ve consumed, I’ve mostly associated them with warzones and hospital helipads – neither of which are places I’d like to visit. But when I climbed out of Flexjet’s private jet at Newcastle Airport, I was to be pleasantly surprised.

The helicopter awaiting me on the tarmac just steps from the jet didn’t seem like the turbulent, rickety choppers I’d seen on television. If anything, it looked far sturdier and more reliable than the taxi I took to London City Airport earlier that day. 

Eight of us were able to fit comfortably into the cabin, seated on comfortable, luxurious hand-stitched leather seats. I was apprehensive before take off – in my mind the vertical ascent defied the laws of gravity – but I didn’t even feel the chopper lift off. Next thing I knew, we were gliding over the coastline in the northeast of England.

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English weather was kind to us that day, gifting us a rare sunny day in April. We had sweeping views of green fields on one side – some bright yellow with rapeseed – and on the other, the bright blue sea as we made our way from Newcastle to Edinburgh on a short, 30-minute trip.

Go anywhere

Flexjet is the first private jet operator to offer an in-house helicopter division in Europe, launching in Britain. The company began its helicopter operations in the US and it has now extended the service to its UK customers. 

Flexjet welcomed its first mid-size Sikorsky S-76 helicopter in April. The chopper is available as a stand-alone service, and existing Flexjet Gulfstream G650 owners can receive complimentary access to the Sikorsky S-76.

Flying on Flexjet’s private jet was an amazing experience in itself. Boarding and take-off from City Airport was seamless, and we were treated to a breakfast spread and Champagne. The flight to Newcastle took under an hour.

But the helicopter provides a last-mile service for customers who don’t want to travel from a hotel to their final destination. Instead, they can land anywhere. At least anywhere with space to accommodate the sizeable Sikorsky S-76.

And it’s no wonder it felt safer than my taxi. The Sikorsky S-76 is a respected and long-established super mid-size helicopter, far bigger than your run-of-the-mill chopper. Its flight range can take you all the way from London to Scotland, Dublin and Paris. 

The company has plans to expand its helicopter operations to other European regions soon, but for now UK customers get the exclusivity this side of the pond. Flexjet is also committed to offsetting 300% of carbon emissions, and works with a sustainability consultancy to make sure it limits its impact on the environment.

Sikorsky helicopter landing

(Image credit: Flexjet)

A luxury stay

After flying along the coast and taking a scenic loop around Arthur’s Seat, we landed at Prestonfield House, a luxury five-star hotel five minutes from Edinburgh’s Old Town. Despite its convenient proximity to the bustling city centre, the hotel is peaceful and quiet, and the surrounding grounds make it seem as though it’s in the middle of the countryside.

The staff at Prestonfield House were exceedingly kind and attentive. I was placed in the Benjamin Franklin Suite – named after the US founding father who stayed at Prestonfield House in the 18th century. 

The bedroom offers a huge, plush bed, a television and an en-suite bathroom with a tub – which I promptly got into shortly after we arrived. The room also has a comfortable sitting room, with a separate bathroom, tastefully decorated, with a Nespresso machine and mini bar. Tall windows afford views of the surrounding parkland and grounds.

Exterior of Prestonfield House in Scotland

(Image credit: Prestonfield House)

We dined in one of the hotel’s private rooms. The table was beautifully set, complete with floral arrangements and candles, setting the scene for a delicious dinner prepared by the hotel’s chefs. Dinner consisted of three courses. I treated myself to fresh crab with wild leek, a flaky fillet of North Sea hake with samphire and potatoes, and a stunning creme brûlée for dessert. In the morning you can take breakfast at the Rhubarb restaurant. 

The menu features fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced produce. The restaurant gets its name from the hotel’s rhubarb plants – Prestonfield was the first estate in Scotland to propagate them. A short walk through the hotel gardens will take you to the plant boxes where rhubarb still grows.

The stay at Prestonfield House was excellent, but the travelling there really made for a special trip. If you’re looking to treat yourself and be ferried from the airport to your final destination, FlexJet is definitely the way to go.

Nicole received complimentary flights and stay. For more information on shared ownership and access programmes, visit

Room rates for Prestonfield House start from £375 per room, per night and includes breakfast. For more information, visit

Nicole García Mérida

Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.