· · · · · · · · ·

When luxury travel becomes irresponsible…? £8,000 for an 84-mile flight

Last month Kanye West reportedly spent £8,000 to leave Doncaster by private jet, only to fly as far as Birmingham (that’s Birmingham, UK – just 84 miles away – not Birmingham, Alabama).  There he was met by a chauffeur-driven Mercedes and transferred to Birmingham’s five-star Hyatt hotel where he stayed in the Presidential Suite and allegedly spent a further £5,500 in just 13 hours.  We’d like to hear your views on a private jet being used for such a short journey… do you find it irresponsible or are you of the opinion that he should be able to spend his money as he wishes?

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

Did you enjoy this article?

Receive similar content direct to your inbox.


  1. At what distance does one need to walk instead of drive?

    And since the owner of the Hyatt in Birmingham spent the money to build and furnish a Presidential Suite, I am sure he/she is happy somebody is paying to use it.

    Should there be a limit on the type of suites available in Birmingham.

    In the U.S., private aviation contributes 1.2 million jobs and $150 billion – yes billion to the economy.

    It’s also quite possible West was using the jet for his next flight as well?

    By the way, rich people’s money only creates jobs when they spend it. Hmmm.

  2. Hi Doug… thanks for dropping by and posting a comment. (Love your magazine, by the way… a beautiful publication.) I am not questioning the Mercedes pick-up or the hotel stay. I’ve stayed at a suite in that hotel myself (and very nice it was too, once they eventually sorted out an initial teething problem) and I am not for one moment suggesting that there should be a limit on the number or type of suites available. Nor am I questioning how much of his money Kanye West chooses to spend – that is entirely his business and yes, of course, the wealthy make a huge contribution to the creation of jobs for others, whether it be in travel or other industries.

    What I am questioning is the use of a private jet for such a short journey and, in particular, the environmental implications of that. Indeed, it’s possible that he was using the jet for his onward journey… I’ll accept that, but I still think it’s rather insensitive at a time when we should perhaps be increasingly more socially responsible for the impact that our travel has upon the environment. Luxury travel and responsible travel don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  3. You would anticipate that the travelers secured a number of quotes from quality jet operators before the booked this aircraft. It’s good to know that bigger jets burn up to 40% of their fuel during take-off.

    It’s difficult and perhaps unfair to make a judgement since we are not privileged to know all the details and potential security issues.

    The Luxury Traveler is of great importance to the travel industry- it creates many jobs and opportunities for all concerned. We encourage our customer to consider all options before they decide to book on of our charter aircraft!

  4. When we start holding others up for judgement, I think we are on a slippery slope.

    For example, Tourism Minister I interviewed recently noted that cruise passengers to his country contribute $97 per person arriving vs. $1,500 by air. In other words, 2,000 cruise passengers will spend $194,000 or about the same as 129 air passengers. Private Jet travelers spend an average of $69,000 per trip, and with an average 4 passengers per jet, these 12 people will spend more than a mega-cruise ship OR a large passenger airliner.

    What are the environmental implications of 2,000 people vs. 129 vs. 12 coming via a mega-cruise ship, a large commercial airliner or three private jets?

    See what I’m saying.

  5. Hmmm… you appear to be saying that it’s OK for a person to have a greater environmental impact so long as they spend more at the destination!

    I do agree that we should be careful not to cast judgement on a particular case without necessarily having all of the facts, and I do acknowledge that the media often has a habit of distorting the ‘facts’.

    That said, I would still maintain, though, that private jet travel for very short journeys isn’t entirely responsible.

  6. Actually I am just saying the 12 people and their 3 private jets I described LIKELY HAVE a LOWER carbon footprint AND spend more money that the 2,000 folks on a cruise ship. The below article is an interesting read: https://travel.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/travel/15green.html

    Should we ban mega-cruise ships?

    Is the carbon footprint of a luxury hotel higher than a budget hotel? Should we ban luxury hotels? A roof and a bed, you know :)

    Is it irresponsible to have fresh towels every day?

    My point is your post set up a straw-man argument. Other than that, I think your website has great information.

  7. Just to clarify, I’m not endorsing private jets vs. cruise ships. vs. commercial airliners. The people they bring to a destination are all part of the mix which helps bring investment and employment.

  8. aloha from Kauai…throughout the years its been my privilege to kokua “be of gracious service” to a diverse class of guests from Hollywood celebrities as well as business executives and families visiting my home. I have been intimately involved with some famous guests in designing their vacations, who fly on conventional airlines and go through the airport ordeals that are part of the experience these days. One gentleman in particular brought his wife,nanny and 4 daughters to a gorgeous estate i was managing for 4 weeks. He was extremely hospitable and approachable, a regular guy regardless of his Hollywood status. I asked him during a casual conversation, why did he fly commercial and not a private jet? He was kind in specifically saying that he is raising daughters and his example in how he does everything in his life is reflected back to him by the girls. He was keenly aware of how his behaviors and choices could influence the way his girls see themselves within his fame and fortune. More importantly, he shared that his parents were hard working middle class folks and a yearly trip was a luxury and every moment from conversing with fellow coach traveler families,full length movies etc still resonate. He said those dynamic details remain engrained in his marrow and he’d prefers to travel with everyone else. And he said that that kind of ease and exposure diluted many episodes of people recognizing him. Private jets were out of the question. Another high end guest and family flies only on a gulf stream Lear with an entourage of security and assistants. Although friendly folks, they were particular in avoiding contact with anyone unknown to them and insistent that i know my boundaries and use absolute discretion in handling their itinerary . Their security remarked that it takes them some time to warm up and they don’t mean to be coy. This family was a bit out of touch with common graces and may miss out on subtle nuances and seemingly removed from how gratitude and compassion are replenished as they are shared. as that is just my opinion, they have the right to enjoy the benefits of their lifestyle and wealth without my concerns or possible quiet condemnations for how they live that life. I have no adversity to abundance and strive to share my breathtaking birth place with everyone, allowing kahiau”selfless generosity” to be my guide. From my experience, there are extraordinary concerns with folks living high profile life styles and they should find the best way to savor their moments without condemnation, concerns for safety, and the many unknowns that you and i are not privy to in their worlds

  9. well, if you have the money to spend, then why not, but still irresponsible. Spend this amount of money everyday and your bank account will eventually be depleted.

  10. Some strong sentiments expressed in these comments. Paul asked if £8,000 for an 84 mile flight was irresponsible. I can see then why Doug answered in monetary terms.

    Firstly Kanye West can spend his money how he sees fit. He even has his own Kanye West Foundation, a philanthropic organisation.

    The same applies to me though and he certainly won’t be getting any of my money. How we spend the money in our bank account is a free choice for us all and of course it brings jobs and income to people, but it also has the potential to do great harm.

    Kanye could have flown in a converted B747 for this flight, so are we to say he made a conscious decision to be responsible. Of course everything is relative. My environmental impact is massive when compared to literally billions of people on this planet. I am always looking for ways of lightening my ecological impact. I don’t expect governments to legislate to stop others living what could be considered to be a more wasteful lifestyle than mine. The solution is ‘to be the change, you’d like to see in the world’. If we all do this and share through the medium of the internet, then big things will happen. All we have to do is think about where we invest and spend our money, then be an example to others via social media.

    Banning things doesn’t really work. The real change comes from ideas whose time has come. What does Kanye want to be remembered for? A man who flew 84 miles in a private jet, or his philanthropic work? The choice is up to him, but as I stated earlier, how much money Kanye gets is up to his audience.

  11. If the man want to spend that much it’s his choice. Yes I think it’s a bit wreckless but I’ve heard of far worse things when it comes to being frivolous with money. Honestly I’m just waiting for the day when the news announces that Kanye has filed for bankruptcy. People start living a lifestyle like that and don’t know how to stop when funds get low.

Comments are closed.