Dollops of caviar were dished out. Champagne flowed. Then, as the pilot leant on the throttle, we were thrust back into sumptuous leather seats in a narrow fuselage. Yet this was not Concorde. Our airborne chariot was a humble little Cessna jet.
Whisked to the runway of Farnborough aerodrome by stretch limo, I was able to climb straight into the jet without any of the pain of standard airport. Passports had been cleared, security was taken care of.
As we soared at nearly 40,000 feet above the French countryside, Mike Bevens of Jeffersons Private Jet Holidays explained how small private aircraft could pick up from where Concorde left off. 'We are attracting a lot of interest from people who would previously have opted for a Concorde trip to celebrate a special moment in their lives. For less than £900 they can have a day they will never forget. And we offer far more flexibility than Concorde did by tailoring trips to the individual's needs. Concorde fantasy flights were pretty much a case of firing up the afterburners, taking off, serving drinks and breaking the sound barrier before returning to Heathrow.'
Our flight touched down in Reims little more than an hour and a half after I'd left home. Had I been flying by scheduled airline, I'd still have been in the departure airport dodging luggage trollies. Instead, I was basking in the glory of autumnal France.
Seven courses later we were back at Reims and wedged into the Cessna for the return flight. Going private may be expensive, but for luxury thrill-seekers it may be the perfect tonic for those post-supersonic blues.
Stephen Khan, The Observer