Like a gothic horror story, my tale begins on a dark and stormy December night in Manhattan. My friend “J” had graciously offered to drop me off after the dinner party we’d both attended. As his chauffeur took us across town via a circuitous route, our conversation drifted intermittently. During the lulls my thoughts turned to a topic that had been troubling me. “I’ve been thinking about buying a jet,” I offered pensively. “What?” J roared back. I braced myself, expecting the worst. Private jets are perhaps the most coveted and yet most taboo status symbols in today’s society. For some, they are the epitome of conspicuous consumption, a contemptible and wretched excess symptomatic of rot from within. Others hold that they are an essential part of business and professional life, a tool of great utility. For most they are a mystery, because those who have them are not very anxious to talk about them. Why should they, when people in the first category are so eager to condemn them? Perhaps, then, you will forgive my cowardice in not offering my name, and in obscuring the identities of some jet owners who helped me along the way. Most luxury items have down-market consumer cousins. Château Lafite Rothschild is, when all is said and done, a bottle of red wine. Good wine, to be sure, and to a connoisseur there is a world of difference between it and, say, a bottle of Thunderbird. However, these extremes are on a continuum of wine choices at every price point and quality level in between. So it is with other luxuries. A Mercedes 600 Coupe lies at one end of a range that includes the Yugo, and yachts are the logical counterpart to humble dinghies.
More here – Vanity Fair