They are the transport method of choice for the rich and famous and the popularity of private jet travel is only increasing.
According to the latest Forbes Billionaire’s List, there are 1,741 members of the ultra-wealthy club around the world, so it is unsurprising that private jet travel is booming.
Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud is famous for his stable of private jets, including a modified Boeing 747 and an Airbus 321 and even an Airbus A380 – which normally seats 800 passengers but has been completely customised to the Prince’s needs.
New extremes in private jets show how innovative designers are catering to wealthy travellers with ever more outrageous additions, such as tanks filled with tropical fish
The unusual concept, unveiled by AirJet Designs, is just one of the somewhat quirkier additions that businessmen and women can request for their jets
Ensuring that the private jets of the super-rich have everything they could ever need is big business.
Prince Alwaleed’s A380 is said to have a marble-finished Turkish bath, a garage for his Rolls-Royce and even a dedicated prayer area, in which computer-generated mats move to point towards Mecca.
Other futuristic designs include all the perks of a superyacht in the skies, from grand dining rooms and even casino areas to aquariums filled with tropical fish and family rooms.
Elite travellers are also expecting improved food service on their jets, with kitchens ca[able of creating gourmet meals
There are no limits to designs that can be created for discerning customers and private jet companies are pushing the boundaries to recreate the comforts of home on board.
Leather upholstery, sumptuous handwoven carpets, chandeliers and gold touches are becoming standard on luxurious jets
Full bathrooms, with showers and all the mod cons you would expect at home are also setting a new standard on private planes
According to private membership charter club Solairus Aviation, the average age of those using private jets is dropping.
The company explains: ‘Travel advisors report that the number of affluent travelers between the ages of 40 and 55 has skyrocketed. Not only that, more well-off families in their 30s and 40s are planning vacation and adventure trips with their young children. The reason: they love to travel and want their children to experience the world.’
There is no end to the extras that wealthy travellers can request.
Luxurious fabrics are an easy way to inject some glamour into a private jet and create a more homely feel
One private jet design even includes a poker table as part of a casino theme on board
Coloured lighting, new window designs and futuristic furniture are all allowing clients to completely customise their on board experience
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Boeing 767-300 can seat up to 350, but as a private jet it can include exceptional high spec VIP luxury interiors, with options such as 30-seat dining room; boardroom, master bedrooms, luxury bathrooms with showers; and spacious living room, according to PrivateFly CEO Adam Twidell.
Likewise, Donald Trump’s $95million Boeing 757 is as luxurious as you would expect, complete with a double bed, spacious lounge with sofas, gold accents and even a marble bathroom.
Brabus Private Aviation explains on its website: ‘Our customers decide on many variables, for example how many passengers will be flying on board frequently. Subsequently this leads to the amount of seats available, which is the basis for the allocation of the entire space in the cabin.’
The ultimate luxury for frequent fliers is not to feel like they are cramped on a standard jet
The idea of modern jet design is to provide everything the customer would expect to find in their home – to the same standard
In private aircraft, a lot of attention is given to the design of the aircraft seats, with style, trim and materials carefully considered
Daron Dryer, director of engineering for Comlux America explained to MailOnline Travel: ‘Innovation is driven by passenger desire to have an on board experience similar to their life on the ground.
‘Business jets have to incorporate new features and facilities in order to allow the passengers to keep their own way of living: Eating and cooking, body care, sport, entertainment, latest technology.
Jean-Pierre Alfano, Creative Director of AirJet Designs said: ‘Our clients want us to dream, push the limits, and to be creative so that we can create for them a spectacular jet interior.’
While aquariums and casinos tend to grab headlines, it can often be the subtle extras that are required by high-end travellers.
Hand-stitched carpets, plush leathers and woods taken from specific trees can be on the wishlist.
Scott Myer, CEO of Comlux America, explains that some interiors include microsliced woodgrain, hand-selected by the customer, who have in turn chosen the exact tree they want.
According to AirJet Designs, customers no longer want boring grey and beige colours when planning private jet interiors
Fellow private jet design company Comlux invests huge amounts of time and money in noise reduction and improving the flight experience for clients
Noise reduction is one of the most important luxuries that companies such as Comlux are working on, to provide a more relaxed journey for customers
He told CBS News: ‘Trees come out of the bottom of the Amazon, that were a hundred years old. If you run out of wood in the middle of a job, you’re done. You’ve got to start over.’
Another money-can’t-buy extra is a quiet plane. While economy travellers put up with huge levels of background noise on flights, the latest luxury on board private jets is the gift of silence.
Mr Alfano explained to Private Air Magazine: ‘Noise reduction has become important simply because owners are now used to having a quiet environment in their homes and cars. They expect the same level of comfort in a private plane.’
Insulation cladding in the walls of the plane and plenty of carpets and soft furnishings are key ways to deaden sound, but in turn weigh the aircraft down, causing more fuel to be burnt to cover the same distance.
Mr Dryer explained to Bloomberg: ‘Sound level in a basic commercial aircraft would only allow you to have good speech interaction within one to two feet of each other.
‘Here we’ve gotten down to about 47 decibles where they can communicate 8-16ft quite easily.’
Customers can choose every element of their jet, from the exact pieces of wood used to the accessories that are incorporated into the design
According to Comlux, lighting manufacturers are now offering infinite control and colour adjustability to create a unique cabin experience
‘We developed a whole new system that for only two thirds of the weight it is actually 10 decibles quieter or rather half the noise level.’
But these extras don’t come cheap. Set aside the cost of an aircraft, which cost in the tens of millions of dollars, buyers then need to add in the cost of their customisations.
Mr Dryer estimates that narrow-bodied planes can cost between $25 and $35million to customise, while wide-bodied aircraft – such as 757s and A380s – can cost around $90million just for the interiors.
Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud is famous for his stable of private jets with luxurious interiors
The Saudi prince had a specially designed central seat in the middle of a golden lounge with thick carpets and marble tops in his personal A380 jet