Flying always seems like the least fun part of travelling—the interminable lines, the weird airport food, the strappy-shoe removal—so when we heard about the new chartered-jet tours of North America from Mauiva AirCruise, our excitement was muted, to say the least. But the concept of seeing up to 12 northeastern or western U.S. cities within a week appealed enough to override our inner grouch (especially with meals, guided tours, tickets to local attractions and four-star hotels taken care of!).
We were pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not flying that’s the problem—it’s airports. Fortunately, the tour’s private airports, part of the chartered-jet life, replace frustration with luxury: latte machines, tiny mints, helpful staff, plush waiting rooms filled with captains, gleeful rumours of Air Force Two having landed there and on-plane (and nearly non-existent) security. And—oh joy!—the coach is waiting on the tarmac when you land to whisk you away.
The rest of the trip maintains that incredibly easy, all-inclusive vibe: After you get on the bus, your guide will take you around the next city (museums, wineries or whatever’s on the menu), take your group to dinner and drop you off at your four-star hotel (where, by the way, your bags will be waiting in your room). More independent types can opt to skip the guided tours and take off in a rental car right from the airport, staying at the same hotel and meeting the plane in the morning.
All-American East, $1,499; Western Wonder, $1,799; Mauiva.
All-American East tour
Day 1: Niagara Falls
Day 2: Toronto; Niagara-onthe- Lake
Day 3: Hershey; Lancaster, Pa.
Day 4: Harrisburg, Pa.; Washington, D.C.
Day 5: Mount Vernon, Va.; Washington
Day 6: Washington
Western wonder tour
Day 1: Monterey; Carmel, Calif.
Day 2: San Francisco
Day 3: Sausalito; Muir Woods; Sonoma County
Day 4: Yosemite; Fresno
Day 5: Las Vegas; Hoover Dam
Day 6: Grand Canyon; Bryce Canyon
Day 7: Las Vegas