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.