News Article

In Conversation with Craig, Founder of Topjet

21 December 2023

Travelling on Cloud Nine with TopJet

Kicking back in luxurious surroundings; staff on hand offering first-rate service; a point of contact back home ready and able to sort any issues. The holiday itself isn’t the only time people can experience the finer things in life. We sat down with Craig Middleton, Founder and CEO of TopJet, to talk about how life in the air can be just as indulgent.

Craig’s been in the business for 35 years, during which time he’s worked his way up the aviation ladder, worked in international brokering, run more private jet terminals than most people knew existed, and started up a couple of his own ventures – the latter of which, TopJet, is what we’re talking about today. It’s a private jet and yacht charter consultancy, specialising in finding the right deals and routes for people, all over the world.

It’s instantly obvious that three and a half decades catering to the whims of clients who fly privately mean that Craig’s a total pro. He’s affable, engaging, and a passionate spokesman for the business he started 7 years ago and which is now home to 4 fulltime staff members. TopJet organise private jet charter for a whole retinue of clients across the world, both business leaders and pleasure-seekers.

A bit like us, it’s completely geared around their needs, with Craig and his team personally overseeing every charter to ensure it runs into as little administrative turbulence as possible. When we ask him about the TopJet touch, he mentions attention to detail as key to what he and his colleagues do. They check whether their clients have chartered privately before, find out as much as they can about what they’re after and even Google them (yes, some can be Googled, but Craig is tight-lipped on who) to see whether they’ve missed anything special. It seems to be working, with a revolving door of repeat-bookers, 4 of whom had travelled just the week before our chat.

He’s been expanding recently into the luxury tour operator game, establishing relationships with companies all over the market and continuing to foster their rapports with the people on the ground around the world who make each trip a smooth sailing affair.

Craig, like us, believes in a model of total transparency. Although he doesn’t shirk from the fact that this is a luxury service and has a price tag to match, he does talk us through how the quoting system works. Craig and his team hunt around for planes in the area from which the client wants to fly and work out a price based on a whole host of factors: number of passengers, size of aircraft, distance to be travelled and so on. What can dramatically impact the quotes, though, are empty leg flights, which may run from a different airport in the vicinity, but have seats available to be booked. We ask him what he means by ‘dramatically’, and he mentions 5-figure sums, so he’s not bending the truth here.

Total transparency extends to safety, too, and it’s clear that this, to Craig, is a non-negotiable. For every charter, the TopJet whizzes do their homework on all manner of aircraft technicalities and, if needs be (which they did, only a few weeks before our chat), Craig will recommend that a client doesn’t fly on a certain aircraft. The tougher talks are, for Craig, part of the business and he’s of the opinion that people respond to honesty – something which elicits appreciative murmurs from our end of the Zoom call.

“Craig, like us, believes in a model of total transparency. Although he doesn’t shirk from the fact that this is a luxury service and has a price tag to match, he does talk us through how the quoting system works.”

A quick flick through TopJet’s website and it’s pretty clear that this is a serious service: Martinis at 35,000 feet whilst sinking into gorgeously upholstered seats – Ryanair, this is not – but Craig is quick to stress that, aside from the material (and liquid) luxury available through private charter, it’s time that’s the real clincher for many. From arriving at the private terminal to take off can take as little as 15 minutes, with clients delivered via chauffeur to the base of the airline steps. TopJet are also adept at managing last-minute situations, frequently sorting charters for clients on timelines measured not in days and months, but minutes and hours.

Our Zoom is about to wrap up but, before we finish, there’s a final comment from Craig on how he sees TopJet’s future panning out. He’s done the big broker stuff and, these days, it’s not for him. Instead, he wants to continue doing what TopJet does best: looking after their clients, fostering his global relationships, and staying at the top of his game. Words to live by, we think.

Love To Explore work directly with Craig for any clients who would be interested in exploring travel by private jet. Please contact us for more information. 

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