While thousands of motorists sat in crawling traffic Sunday thanks to unannounced road construction on Interstate 10 in Banning, four people with music industry connections chartered a jet from Thermal to make sure they made it to the Grammys.
The lucky four flew in a 7-seat Citation chartered by Desert Jet of Thermal, officials with the company said Monday.
"They departed at 3:15 p.m. and arrived in Santa Monica at 3:45 p.m.," Denise Wilson, president and founder of Desert Jet, said in a phone interview Monday. "They were inside Staples Center before 4:30 p.m."
The Grammy Awards broadcast was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Sunday.
A similar one-way charter flight would cost $4,200 for the plane, Wilson said. One to seven passengers can fly for the same flat rate.
Other people trying to get to Los Angeles, Orange County and other destinations spent four to six hours covering what normally takes 45 minutes or less, and others decided to spend the night in the Coachella Valley rather than fight the traffic.
"We actually had four groups of people going to the Grammys who called us at the last minute because of the Interstate 10 mess," Wilson said in a prepared statement. "We only had one aircraft available at the time because we were flying clients to other locations in our other aircraft."
"When there is a major freeway closure like this aviation companies like ours can be a life line to the community," Wilson said.
Caltrans District 8 issued Monday for the unexpected delays, which extended more than 20 miles at times into Palm Springs, and lasted more than 10 hours. A Caltrans spokeswoman cited a breakdown at a concrete plant as a factor in the unnanounced construction in Banning.