While the trappings of luxury differ, one perk remains constant: Those with the means tend to travel in their own private jets. Such travel became increasingly spacious until a crescendo in 1996 when Boeing introduced the first “personal use” version of one of its commercial airliners. the $30 million Boeing Business Jet (a reconfigured 737). It was treated as the last word in spaciousness and luxury. Now, compared with competing for luxury jets, a 737 looks like a chopped liver. Equipped with interiors as luxurious as any five-star hotel, these private airplanes make the trips of their wealthy owners more comfortable and enjoyable.
But, luxury comes at a price. The Bombardier Global 5000 starts at about $31 million, and the Gulfstream G650 runs a cool $65 million. Airbus lists a price of $68 million for its smallest single-aisle A318 and about $245 million for the twin-aisle A350, which will debut in 2014. The company lists its new A380 double-decker at $389.9 million before any upgrades. In all, manufacturers sold 200 large luxury jets in 2011, including 17 Boeing and Airbus private jets.
As airplanes have become larger, their interiors have also changed greatly, incorporating the sumptuous amenities once found only on private yachts. The owner of one Boeing private jet painted a copy of the Sistine Chapel on its ceiling, while one has a library board. Another insisted on mounting a sculpture of his horse in the cabin of his jet. Many have pianos and home theaters aboard.
If one were to rank the latest & best luxury private jets from one to ten, then realtor Donald Trump and his Boeing 757 would come in at number 10. Mark Cuban and his Boeing 767 would fall in the middle, and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal with his behemoth Airbus A380 would rank as the number one in private luxury jets.
Trump, as we know has made, and lost, and made again, millions of dollars. So why shouldn’t he spend a little on himself? But how little is a little? Trump recently upgraded from his Boeing 727 to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s “old” Boeing 757. The Donald paid $100 million for the used airplane.
When you’re Donald Trump, you live largely and need an airplane to match your larger-than-life personality. In this case, his new ride is about twice the size of his 727. It seats 43, has a 16-hour non-stop flying range, and is powered by two Rolls Royce engines.
By comparison, a typical commercial 757 seats 186 to 289 passengers, and the seatbelt buckles and other accessories such as the lavatory sink are not 24k gold plated. Other notable features on Trump’s jet include a 57″ TV in the “media room”, a DVD storage system of 1,000 movies, Trump’s personal DVR, a private master suite for Trump, and a guest suite with a full bed, a bathroom, and more. It also comes fully loaded with the most advanced “glass” cockpit flight avionics. With that kind of technology, who needs the window seat?
Oh, did we mention that his second favorite aircraft for short flights is a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter which starts at $11 million and rivals Marine One, the presidential helicopter?
The Mark Cuban we know today is a rich sophisticated business magnet, but who knew that this self-made billionaire sold garbage bags door-to-door at the age of 12? His hard work and business acumen have made him a man with a net worth of $2.6 billion and the founder of HDNet, Broadcast.com, and MicroSolutions, which he sold for $6 million.
Billionaire Cuban, who purchased the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million from Ross Perot, also owns a healthy fleet of private jets. His private fleet includes a Gulfstream V, Boeing 757, and 767. In addition to other lavish upgrades, the 767 is fitted with custom-made seats that are large enough to accommodate the tallest team player.
Airbus, today operates the world’s largest passenger airliner, the A380. One copy of this behemoth double-decker jetliner is owned by a single customer, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, a major investor in Citigroup. According to Forbes, the prince has a net worth of $18 billion. The converted Airbus A380 holds the title of the world’s largest private jet. In a space normally given to three-class seating of 550 to all economy class of about 850 passengers, the prince and his guests enjoy the five-star luxury treatment.
It is the most expensive personal jet in the world, with a final price in excess of $500 million, including the cost of outfitting it with one-of-a-kind amenities. This flying yacht includes five suites with king-size beds, a garage for two Rolls-Royces, a stable for horses and camels, a pen for hawks, and a prayer room that rotates so it always points toward Mecca. Besides private suites, there is a board room for mid-air business meetings and 20 ‘sleepers’ – the equivalent of First Class seats – for extra guests.
It has an elevator that shuttles between the private quarters upstairs, and down to the concert hall. Just outfitting the cavernous interior with the little touches that make an airplane home, mahogany paneling, gold-plated fixtures a Jacuzzi, and a screening room cost the prince a mere $20 million.
Still, there are limits to the features that can be installed in private jets. There are two standards for cabin design. Commercial airliners have to adhere to stringent safety standards. If you have a personal luxury aircraft, you can do pretty much what you like on board. But as opulent as these flying yachts get, all the money in the world can’t buy a swimming pool or a fireplace.