An A380 made for a prince… Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal to be exact. This would have been the most expensive private plane ever built (with an estimated cost at around $488 Million) and the first A380 sold to an individual. The planned renovations were announced in 2009:
Seriously, someone obviously sat down with some crayons, and decided to design the most insane, over-the-top plane they could. This thing has it all – starting with the special cylindrical elevator that comes out of the bottom of the plane. His Chauffeurs can then drive his Rolls Royce up the ramp on the rear, and park it in his on-board garage. Relaxation comes from a steam room, Turkish bath, concert hall (with a baby grand piano) or in one of the five private quarters, complete with king size beds. Less fortunate guests will have to spend the night in one of the 20 “normal” first class sleeper suites.When his Royal Highness needs to get some work done, he can take the elevator up to his boardroom and play with the touch screen TV’s or the holographic projection system. And finally in the lineup of ludicrous additions – get this – the well being room has a floor made from a giant screen, showing what the plane is flying over.
It’s reported that Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, has a net worth of $18 billion, giving him plenty of spending money for the following amenities:
- Concert hall with grand piano, seating for 10 and stage for private entertainment
- Marble tiled steam room with spa treatments
- A “wellbeing” room complete with flat screen TVs on the walls and floors that shows passengers what they are flying over
- Five master bedroom with king sized beds, private bathrooms and showers
- 20 smaller private rooms
- Private elevator that connects the master bedroom to the tarmac for quick entrances and exits
- Boardroom with holographic monitors
- A prayer room with computer monitored prayer mats that automatically adjust to face Mecca
It’s now four years later and there’s still no plane and according to Forbes, there will never be one:
What really happened to the plane is a tale of what appear to be outsized expectations for a speculative flip prior to the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. In October 2007, Alwaleed ordered a test flight version of the A380: Serial number 002, essentially a second hand plane, which one source said was about 23,000 pounds heavier than the current version of the plane. Another source says Alwaleed did a fantastic job negotiating with Airbus, and got the price down to $130 million, roughly 50% of which was to be paid in yearly installments following a $19.5 million down payment; the remainder was to be paid upon delivery. Airbus agreed to deliver the plane “as new,” with new engines and new systems in July 2010. For comparison, list price for a new A380 is more than $300 million; the A380-800 listed at $390 million last year. Then the Prince’s core asset –Citigroup shares — began to fall in value in late 2007. According to sources who do not wish to be named, Alwaleed’s employees were instructed to find someone else to buy the plane. In March 2008, one employee found a U.K. aircraft leasing company, Chartwell Aviation, willing to pay $268 million, but Alwaleed rejected the deal, saying he wanted nothing less than $300 million, according to a source with knowledge of what happened. When I visited Alwaleed in Saudi Arabia in October 2008 as the financial crisis was beginning to take hold, I asked him why he ordered the jumbo jet, especially since he already had a fully decked out Boeing 747. Does one person really need a plane designed to carry anywhere from 525 to 800 people? His answer…
Check out the remainder of the story over at Forbes as well as my most luxurious flights below, including the A380 shower in the sky!
- Trip Report Part 1 – Emirates First Class on the A380 w/ Shower Suite – LAX – Dubai (DXB)
- Trip Report Part 2 – Emirates First Class on the A380 w/ Shower Suite – LAX – Dubai (DXB)
- Emirates First Class Lounge – A380 Terminal – Concourse A – Dubai
- Cathay Pacific First Class Trip Report – My Favorite FC Trip Ever? HKG-YVR-JFK
- The Cathay Pacific Pier Lounge HKG/Day-Break Rooms, connecting flight KUL – HKG
- Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Houston (IAH) – Moscow (DME) Part 1
- Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Moscow (DME) – Singapore (SIN) & DME Transfer Lounge Part 2
- The Singapore Airlines Private Room @ Silver Kris Lounge Terminal 3 & Silver Kris Lounge Terminal 2 @ SIN
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