AIN Blog: Flights of Fancy?

 - March 2, 2015, 11:00 AM
(Photo: Jet Aviation)

Not everything can fly,” said Lufthansa Technik’s Walter Heerdt in 2012. “We will not install a swimming pool or a fireplace. That is not possible.”

Back in 2007, however, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud signed an order for an Airbus A380 double-decker and hired designer Edese Doret to equip it with not only a swimming pool but also with a two-car garage for his Rolls-Royces, a stable for horses and camels, a pen for hawks and a prayer room that would rotate so it always faced Mecca. The total cost was said to be around $500 million.

Airbus did nix the pool and none of the prince’s other plans took form, as he wound up selling the jet before its interior was installed. Airbus recently delisted the order for the first and so far only private A380, a former flight-test aircraft. Clearly, though, he was not thinking small. And he wasn’t the first or last jet buyer to decide that the sky’s no limit.

As we reported last year in Business Jet Traveler's annual Buyers’ Guide, recent bizjet cabin projects have included a casino, complete with wet bar and gaming tables, and—Heerdt’s comments notwithstanding—a fireplace in a Boeing 787. OK, it’s a “simulated” fireplace, but it still means the owner can hang his stocking and wait for Santa at 41,000 feet. Then, of course, there are the bizliners that serve as transportation for heads of state, which have such features as two-story ballrooms, elevators, bulletproof glass and surgical suites. (See the April/May 2015 BJT for a report on the 747s that will serve as the next fleet of Air Force One aircraft for U.S. presidents, plus a look at the latest in bizjet furnishings.)

What’s the most amazing cabin customization job you’ve seen on a corporate or private aircraft? Write and let me know. I’ll personally pay a thousand bucks to the first reader who points me to a cabin that features a 40-lane bowling alley or an 18-hole golf course.

On second thought, scratch that last sentence, as the joke could be on me. Given some of what’s flying these days, it’d be risky to call anything impossible.