As grim as the pandemic is, it certainly is a wonderful time to travel. Earlier this month I had to fly to London on a family matter and (nearly) had the entire 36-seat 787-8 business class cabin to myself. It was an unforgettable experience.
My Private Jet Experience…On A United Airlines 787
Right up until boarding time of my Chicago – London flight, I was the only passenger in business class. At boarding time, another passenger upgraded, but that left only two passengers in the entire business class cabin, staffed by four flight attendants.
She took seat 1A, I took seat 3L, on opposite ends of the forward business class cabin. I could have sat in the rear business class cabin, totally empty, but I could not even see the other passenger from my seat.
Imagine having a spacious 787 to yourself. Of course I had a seat to sit in and another one to sleep in, but the stillness and quiet of an empty cabin. No voices. No clanking dishes or silverware.
How was service? Amazing. The flight was staffed with a London-based crew and the purser, named Gun, took care of me throughout the flight. While the entire crew was lovely, Gun was so kind, so gracious, so attentive, and so charming. My thanks to her for truly making this flight special.
An example: in order to let me maximize my sleep, Gun gently woke me with only 36 minutes left in the flight to serve breakfast. That’s simply impossible in a full cabin, but you can bet I appreciated the extra hour of sleep.
I’ve flown private several times now and the flight itself is usually not any more comfortable than a commercial jet. In fact, unless you get on a larger jet, you have limited recline, no footrest, and no bed.
This flight combined some of the best elements of flying private (personalized service, no other people) but with immense space to spread out.
I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Indeed, I’ve never experienced anything like it…but I hope I never experience it again (my return flight was about 1/3 full). Empty business class cabins (and the entire plane was empty) generally signal financial distress, even with cargo in the underbelly. It’s surreal to fly on empty flights and as much as I love the extra space and easy upgrades, I look forward to a day when planes are full again, for that will mean our world is moving again.
With a name like that, I’m surprised she made it through security.
Scandinavian name I believe. Such a lovely person.
A couple weeks ago, I had a similar experience on LX 19 EWR-ZRH. F was empty; two of us in the forward J cabin, and maybe a third in the mini-cabin. Twenty people total on the flight. So, yeah, personal FA, personal lav. Dead tired, so I got some food, some wine, and just crashed. Nice flight.
Worth the check-in counter upgrade fee? Definitely, even with the joke of a LH pandemic lounge (people were going down to the bar outside and bringing drinks in).
Worth ten days in quarantine? Well, I wouldn’t have been traveling if it weren’t necessary, so no, it wasn’t.
I recently flew IAD-DOH on QR biz (family emergency) and had the entire mini cabin to myself, which was amazing. Felt like a private jet, though I’ve never been on one!
Glad the flight attendant was nice, but maybe time to change his/her name???
I was one of two F passengers LAX-HKG on a CX 747-400. I had two “personal” flight attendants and my own private lavatory.
I flew FRA-IAH this week with a similar empty cabin. New polaris seats 789. FAs had little to do and were accidentally both arriving with wine. Great crew and quietly checking on me throughout the flight which never happens. Although one FA from the back snarked at me for having my nose exposed for a matter of seconds on an 11h plus fight. After the capital thing, every other flight there is one miserable FA (always poc) being incredibly rude, eyeing me like a criminal and trying to goad me into an argument over something. Three weeks ago it was that I fell asleep waiting for the emergency seat verbal confirm to happen. In my 20 years of heavy flying and millions of bis miles on United, never had anything close to this rudeness. They seem disappointed when I’m polite to their nasty comportment. They’re the boss on the plane but no reason to be so incredibly rude to tired passengers keeping the airline afloat. Will report.
Please do report. Sadly, I find IAH crews are (generally) the worst. Of course there are many exceptions who are simply wonderful. I certainly do not find this an issue of color.
Report what? He seems like a stealth racist, since he claims strangely that all the rude ones are only and always people of color…shame you didn’t pick up on that Matthew.
Oh, I totally missed that. Yeah, that’s a silly generalization. In fact, if I were generalizing it would be precisely the opposite concerning IAH crews.
I’ve been the only passenger in SQ F SIN-MEL ( twice), both times on the overnight flight. Just the luck of the draw as neither was during a crisis.
On the other hand , being 1/9 on a TG 747 , BKK-HKG was a bit surreal; it was during SARS, but I needed to go to a funeral.
My family (wife, two kids) were the only F passengers on a Qatar A380 from DIA to BKK. Absolutely outstanding service, and an experience we’re likely to never have again, sadly – especially as more airlines seem to be retiring their A380 fleets ahead of schedule. Having that huge cabin, four flight attendants, extra helpings of caviar, and the two ginormous lavatories just to ourselves was simply spectacular and unforgettable.
I have been the only passenger in OZ F from ICN to FRA- indeed it was my first F flight. Unbelievable service, and I consumed a frankly ridiculous amount of beverages (and not just alcoholic ones; I had to switch to sitll water when they ran out of Perrier after I polished off all 13 cans they had onboard).
That was on a miles redemption, and I don’t think I could have brought myself to pay the ~€3k each way they were charging for revenue tickets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they had been losing money hand over fist and ended up getting rid of F even before the pandemic. Great memories though.
My dad and I were the only passengers once in the forward part of the previous sUA 777 J seats on a flight from LHR-IAD a few years ago. It is a fun experience.
Flown with Gun many times. She’s an awesome Flight Attendant. One of UA’s finest.
A few years ago you helped me use points to get a Lufthansa FRA-IAD flight in first. Not only was it a brand new plane, there were only three in first, including me and the wife. She had the entire starboard side of cabin to herself, including her own toilet.
Many fond memories of LH F on the ultra long haul between Los Angeles and Delhi, and my husband and myself, with perhaps one other, often being the only pax in F between FRA and DEL. The ultimate flying experience of exquisite service, almost endless space, great comfort and total relaxation, and having that gigantic and spotlessly clean A380 F lavatory to top it off. I also recall so many great conversations with the charming and attentive FAs serving the F cabin. I’m glad I had the chance to experience something like this, and will cherish those memories forever.