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Luxury air transport

Matthew Horsman

Matthew Horsman

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In the early days of air transport, it was considered as a luxurious, high profile and exclusive method of travel, only available to the rich and famous. For one reason or another that era was known as the golden age of aviation. People who didn’t have the resources to fly were always curious about what the inside of an aircraft was actually like and wondered how you were treated.

The era of the modern jet-liner, commercial flights and the low-cost business model opened flight up to the masses, and with that came the inevitable disappearance of the old image of exclusivity and luxury. The new image of cramped seating and over-priced, reheated food is now more common in the minds of the air traveller.

It is possible to personalise almost any model, as long as you have the spending power to do so, of course!

Well, that is not entirely true. A small part of that exclusive golden age still remains. One part of it is in the luxury cabins and treatment that first class passengers receive. But the other part is even more exclusive and considerably less accessible. I’m talking about the world of customised private jets. Just as with the world of private yachts, luxury custom fitted private jets are one of the biggest status symbols among the wealthy elite.

However one thing that has changed since the golden age is that back then the internet didn’t exist. So if you never boarded an aircraft, you could only imagine what it was like inside. There was no way you could see it for yourself. Well that has changed and now you can see a huge amount of images and videos and even, in some cases, perform a virtual tour.

I don’t just mean Air Force One, I’m referring to large, sometimes even widebody jet liners, with completely redesigned bespoke interiors. Flying homes for those with the spending power to have one.

One of the largest and most impressive that we have seen recently is a customised Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The first if its kind, purchased and modified by Kestrel Aviation and Pierrejean Design Studio for an undisclosed buyer (rumoured to be from Asia). As well as a huge lounge area, some of the key features include a fully fitted master suite with king size bed, dressing room and a fully fitted bathroom with his and her twin sinks. To give you an idea, depending on seating options a commercial Dreamliner can handle around 250 passengers. This customised version has been made for just 40 people. With most of them located in the guest area on their own fully equipped first class seat. The rest of the aircraft’s floor space is for the relaxation and comfort of the jet’s hosts. You can find more details and a video walkthrough of this jet by clicking here and here.

That however is just one example, another one which was only announced very recently was the Airbus Pagani Infinito Jet Cabin. Usually known for luxury cars, Pagani has announced that it is to step into the world of custom aircraft interiors with the help of Airbus. Their new luxury jet interior is based on the Airbus ACJ319neo and features a huge amount of high end extras made from carbon fibre and leather, with glass walls separating each section. One of its main features is the aptly-named “sky ceiling” made entirely from video displays that give the passengers a live view of the skies above them. More details and images of this jet can be found here.

I imagine there must be few of you that are wondering whether anyone has been bold enough, and rich enough, to personalise an Airbus A380. The answer is no, not yet, however I think we will see the very first one extremely soon. A number of years ago the Saudi Prince Alwaleed, who already owns a fully customised Boeing 747-400, was linked to a deal involving a customised A380. Dubbed “the flying palace”, the jet was sold on by the Prince before it was ever delivered.

More recently however, Singapore Airlines announced that they will soon be retiring their first five A380s, to be replaced by five new versions of the same aircraft. Rumour has it that four of these old A380s will be sold on and personalised. In fact British studio Winch Design has released images of what they could look like. Options to convert one or both decks are available, with spacious lounges, conference rooms and of course a huge master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. You can find out a little more about this story, and see some early rendered images of the interior, here.

These are just a couple of examples of what’s out there, but there are a huge amount of different jets, with countless different bespoke interior options designed by some of the most prestigious companies in the world. It is possible to personalise almost any model, as long as you have the spending power to do so, of course!



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