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Luxury air travel: Out of the blue, into the red
June 4, 2010

According to Jami Counter, senior director of TripAdvisor.com, today's luxury traveler inclines toward private jets, or at least a piece of one.

"What's been in vogue is fractional jet ownership," which Counter likened to a time share. "It's flexible. You can tap into it, so it's a nice alternative to owning a jet."

For scheduled flights up where the air is rarefied, he cites the double-decker, wide-bodied Airbus 380, which has been flying commercially since 2007.

"Emirates out of Dubai, with 100 destinations around the world, has 50 Airbus 380s on order," he said, adding that they boast showers in first class, spas and private suites.

Counter says the luxury boutiques are like canaries in the economic coal mine.

"In 2000 Legend Airlines announced an incredibly high-end, 59-seat business class service out of Dallas. Then came the dot.com downturn and Legend lasted less than a year," he said.

"Every time airlines go in for this high-end luxury service, it's a sign things are getting overheated."