Book A Night On An Airplane With AirBnB

Vacation accommodation website AirBnB has no shortage of unique places to stay, from a “boatel” aboard a converted ferry, to a private island in Fiji. For airplane nuts and those wanting the luxurious exclusivity of a private jet, AirBnB has a collection of airplane accommodations.

Accommodations range from a New Zealand two-unit motel inside a 1950s Bristol freighter plane (rates start at $180 per night, sleep in the cockpit or tail), to $10,000 for a night on a Gulfstream G5 jet in Beverly Hills (rate includes one hour of flight time and three hours of flight attendant service. Divide that by 18 passengers and that’s…still a lot of money, but a priceless experience. Don’t want to leave the airport? If you can find a flight into Teuge Airport in the Netherlands, you can stay aboard a former government plane, now fully tricked out into a private suite. If you’d prefer a more traditional place to stay, you might enjoy the Wine Country Airplane House in Sonoma county, which has not only an airplane tail on the front of the secluded house, but also a piece of the old Golden Gate Bridge.

Check out more unique AirBnB listings in their collection of wishlists.

Gulfstream’s $500 million expansion of Savannah, GA headquarters to create 1,000 jobs

According to many pundits, the so-called recession that gripped the world in 2009 is far from “over,” but we’ve been noticing steady signs of recovery in the travel industry over the course of 2010. While consumers and businesspeople alike are still pinching pennies and thinking twice as hard about where their funds are going, more and more bodies are moving about, particularly by plane. Gulfstream, which maintains a headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, seems more convinced than ever that we’re on the rebound, and it’s announcing today a huge investment that’ll better position it “to meet future demand for business-jet aircraft and support services.”

The spend? $500 million over the next seven years, and that’ll buy significant expansion of its Savannah plant as well as around 1,000 full-time Gulfstream Aerospace jobs (a hike of about 15 percent from its current level of 5,500 employees). According to Savannah Now, those positions will include production specialists, engineers, and support technicians. Needless to say, quite a few folks in the Peach State are celebrating the news, with Gov. Sonny Perdue being one of many on hand today for the announcement. Moreover, the expansion will result in new facilities at the northwest quadrant of the Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport.

Gulfstream suggests that the investment will also help it meet a growing demand for large-cabin aircraft, with large chunks of the cash used to build production plants for G650 (“Like a G6!”) and G250 jets, as well as maintenance capacity for all of the models that the company manufactures. Unsurprisingly, we’re hearing that the bulk of that demand is coming from international clients (Asia Pacific, specifically), but the company seems bound and determined to keep its roots in the south.

We know Gulfstream doesn’t speak for the entire aviation industry, but it’s definitely good to see a major player like this making such a tremendous investment in the future of air travel. Here’s hoping it’s just the beginning of a beautiful turnaround.

[Via Twitter (@mksteele)]

Dream Escape: the name says it all

The problem with most vacation packages is that they’re … well … packaged. You may have some room for a little tweaking, but you aren’t going to stray far from the menu. As an alternative, you could reach out to an upscale travel agent or concierge, but you’ll probably wind up with an experience centered on destinations rendered inaccessible only by price – which, for a particular demographic, isn’t inaccessible at all. For those with the means to clear all but the most absurd of financial hurdles, the real challenge becomes getting into the places that are designed to keep you out – or which at least aren’t intended to accommodate.

This is where David Tobin’s Dream Escape excels.

Dream Escape is Scotland’s most exclusive travel planning company, constructing careful and extensive vacation experiences that you won’t find anywhere else … and may not even dream up on your own. Whether you want to inhabit a castle for a few weeks, taste the latest single malt before the rest of the world learns of its existence or zip around the Scottish countryside (there’s lots of it) in the sports car of your fantasies and toss your head onto a different pillow each night, Tobin can probably put together an itinerary that will turn you on.

The process begins well before you hit the road, with Tobin’s team getting a sense for what you like and what you don’t, soliciting any specifics you’ve already chosen and providing ideas that may not occur to you on your own – if you don’t know what can be done, you won’t know to ask. Groups of all sizes can be handled, including celebrations involving hundreds of your closest friends … all of whom expect to be carted around on private jets.

By the time you land in Scotland, everything is ready (well, the details are actually nailed down long before the wheels on your Gulstream drop). You’ll be accompanied throughout your escape by an expert on the details of your trip, though you can certainly choose to have some elbow room if you like. In my mind, this concierge is like an easily accessible itinerary: I don’t print them, and I don’t read them … but I want someone to let me know where I should be someplace, when and how to get there. This is just one of the ways in which the annoyances of travel are stripped out of your trip, and you are truly free to enjoy yourself fully.

The “everything’s taken care of” mentality can manifest itself in unusual ways, underscoring how closely Dream Escape watches even the smallest of moving parts. One party, for example, wanted to drive – a collection of sports cars (such as Lamborghinis) was the backbone of the getaway. Obviously, these rides were waiting for the guests when they landed; that’s just common sense. Each one had a GPS device with directions for the entire trip already planned into it – now, that’s thinking! And since people like me exist (i.e., navigationally impaired), the cars were stocked with prepaid cell phones that had the relevant digits already added to speed dial. The only thing missing was an imaginary friend to whisper words of wisdom into the guests’ ears. As soon as there’s a way to pull that off, I’m sure Tobin will find a way to work it into somebody’s vacation.

Doubtless, you’ve figured out by now that working with Dream Escape can be pretty costly. And, you’re right. These trips are not for the weak of wallet. Specific prices vary with the nature of your plans, especially if they involve private residences (such as castles), luxury jets or rare automobiles. Tobin did tell me that it’s possible to pull a trip together toward the lower end of the five-figure range, but it’s pretty clear to me that it takes a bit more than that to unleash the full power of his talent and connections. There are plenty of experiences out there in the $30,000 to $50,000 neighborhood – but if you’re ready to drop more than $100,000, I have a feeling Tobin’s imagination is the only limit.

Now, if you’re looking to roll at this level, you’re probably concerned about discretion. The last thing you’d want is a guy like me hearing – and writing – about your tastes, means and experiences. Well, you’ll be comforted to know there’s plenty Tobin wouldn’t tell me, and names were just the tip of this confidential iceberg. Your secrets will be safe.

Conspicuous luxury is a bit taboo during a recession – nothing makes peasants revolt quite like seeing the haves living the good life. So, skip the new house, watch or car, and call Tobin. Dream Escape will deliver the experience of your life, and nobody needs to know about it – except the like-minded folks you want to see drooling over what Tobin pulled off for you.

Galley Gossip: Interview with a flight attendant – ME!

Dear Heather,

I know this is really random and weird, but I’m a Jr in high school and we were given an assignment to write a research paper over a job that we would like to do once we graduate and I have become very interested in becoming a flight attendant. Anyway part of the assignment is to interview someone that does the job we would like to do. It’s been very hard trying to find someone that is a flight attendant. Well I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions…

  1. How long have you been working at your job
  2. What kind of training/education is required to do your job
  3. Is college or a vocational school needed to prepare for this job?
  4. How have the things learned in school helped when beginning this line of work?
  5. What do you like most about your job?
  6. What do you like least about your job?
  7. What advice would you give a student that is interested in doing what you do?
Thanks for your time,


Dear Lacy,

I’d love to help you with your research paper and thank you for including me. When you’re finished, can I take a peek at what you wrote? Oh and if you, or anyone else, have any other questions please feel free to ask!

How long have you been working at your job: I’ve been working for a major US carrier for fourteen years. Before I began working for my current employer, I worked three months for a low cost carrier called Sun Jet International Airlines, an airline that is no longer in business. I’ve even done a little corporate flying on a GV (gulfstream) owned by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, which was actually purchased over the internet for $41 million, the largest internet purchase ever made. Talk about an amazing experience. My jumpseat alone was something to write home about.

What kind of training / education is required to do your job: It depends on the airline. However, I do not know many flight attendants who do not have a college education. Even with a 30% pay cut, longer duty days, and shorter layovers, all of which happened after 9/11, the job is still a highly competitive one to obtain. That means if you want to work for a major carrier your best bet is to go to college and get a degree.

Besides a college education, airlines are also looking for people who have good customer service skills. Remember, you will be dealing with people, all kinds of people and lots of them for up to 14 hours a day, and most of these people are not happy and want to tell you all about it. It’s important that you have the right kind of personality to handle this kind of job. Even people with the right personality can lose a little patience after a long duty day. Being flexible is also a must in the airline industry, as flights cancel and schedules change. And keep in mind, you probably won’t be based where you live now.

As for training the airline will provide, it was the longest seven and a half weeks of my life. It’s not that it was hard, because it’s really not, but there’s a lot of information to retain in a very short period of time. In training we learned everything from how to evacuate a smoke filled cabin to how to handle a “gassy” passenger without insulting them.

Trust me, it’s not all about doing a drink service. Things do happen in flight. Just a few months ago I walked out of the business class galley with a tray full of drinks and noticed the entire business class cabin had turned around in their seats, all eyes on me. That’s when I spotted the unconscious young lady lying on the floor. No one had moved a muscle. Immediately I went into action. Fortunately flight attendant training prepares you for anything and everything. Though I must admit I was completely unprepared once while working a Sun Jet flight when a passenger complained to me because she didn’t get a blueberry muffin inflight due to the fact that the flight diverted because of smoke in the cabin. Ya see, this is one of those times when customer service skills come in handy.

Is college or a vocational school needed to prepare for this job: I wouldn’t say it’s required, but as I mentioned above, the more educated you are the better your chances at getting hired, especially if you want to work for a major carrier. So if you have the opportunity to go to college, by all means go! If you are thinking about a vocational school, do it! I can’t tell you how many flight attendants I know who are trained in therapy and nursing. It’s just smart to have a backup plan in life, because even if you do get hired to work for an airline you never know what’s going to happen in the future. Airlines are struggling just to stay afloat in our weak economy and each month a different airline seems to be going out of business.

If for whatever reason college is not in the cards for you, don’t give up. Get experience! Customer service experience is what you’ll need, and you’ll need a lot of it! Try waiting tables (even if you are going to school), but not just at any restaurant, a nice restaurant. Years ago when I interviewed to work as a corporate flight attendant for a company called Million Air out of Dallas, I was asked about my experience with first class service. At the time I had none. Nada. Zero. Zilch. Oh sure I waited tables in college, but that was at a hole in the wall dive, so that didn’t quite count. Probably explains why I didn’t get hired. I’m sure the canary yellow suit I wore to interview in that day didn’t help matters, either.

Speaking other languages always helps, too. Airlines love to hire bilingual employees. Just the other day I saw that a major US carrier is currently hiring ONLY flight attendants that can speak Mandarin Chinese. Those who speak Mandarin Chinese do not need more than a high school education to apply.

How have the things learned in school helped when beginning this line of work: Honestly, I can’t think of one thing that I learned in school that did not somehow help me later on in life as a flight attendant, or any other job that I’ve held. Just going to school, for one thing, is an education in itself. You are multi-tasking, learning how to deal with different people, handling responsibility, while studying and learning new things every day. Trust me when I tell you that airline training is not easy. There’s a lot of information coming at you at once, so the better you are in school, the better off you’ll be in flight attendant training.

While most days you won’t be handling onboard emergencies, thank goodness, the majority of your time will be spent dealing with passengers, and that includes passengers who have problems. A flight attendant has to be able to communicate not only with the mother and child in coach, but also the CEO of a very large company sitting in first class. That means you have to be knowledgeable and up to date on current events, as well as what’s going on in the aviation industry.

What do you like most about your job? What I like most about my job changes every few years. In my early twenties all the days off seemed to be the best thing about my job. Back then I worked about 12 days a month. That’s it. As I began to make more money, it was traveling (for free!) that I began to love. There’s nothing like flying to Paris in first class on a whim. Now that I’m married (to a man who flies over 100,000 miles a year) and have a two-year old son at home, I have to say it’s the flexibility of the job that I love most. When my husband is out of town, I can stay home and take care of my son. If the husband has to go away on business to…let’s say…Japan, my son and I can go along with him. If I want to make a little extra cash for the holiday season, I can pick up extra trips from other flight attendants.

What do you like least about your job? Reserve. Because everything is based on company seniority, reserve flight attendants are the most junior flight attendants at each airline. When you’re on reserve you have no life. Except for a few known days off, you do not have a schedule, which means you’re at the beckon call of the airline – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until your official day off. Thank goodness I’m no longer on reserve. But that can always change. So now that I’m holding off reserve, I have to say that working holidays is what I like least about my job. Yes, I will be working Christmas day. Luckily I was able to drop my trip on Christmas eve.

What advice would you give a student that is interested in doing what you do? Finish your education and if you still want to be a flight attendant apply! Then, when you get called for an interview, make sure to read my blog so that you know exactly what you’re getting into, and talk a lot about customer service. Oh and whatever you do, do not wear a canary yellow suit. Think blue. Navy blue.

Hope that helps,

Heather Poole


Photos courtesy of Heather Poole (yeah, that’s me!)

Obama’s plane clips another aircraft at Midway Airport

This year’s hectic campaign schedule is tough on the politicians and their campaign staff alike. Moving quickly from caucus to primary throughout the country teams are worked to exhaustion, leaving one state after a late rally to speak first thing in the morning five states over. I heard John Edwards on the phone with NPR the morning after the Iowa caucus (from New Hampshire) and he sounded like he had just been run over by a truck.

It’s difficult to function on so little sleep, let alone fly a Gulfstream II over the nation’s skies, so perhaps I should be less critical of Barack Obama’s pilot who early last Saturday morning clipped a stationary aircraft on the grounds of Chicago‘s Midway airport. Apparently the damage was minimal and Obama’s plans were only gently disrupted, but being a pilot and all, one should definitely be aware of surrounding aircraft (especially those that aren’t moving) when taxiing around the airport.

I suppose senator Obama is lucky that the incident wasn’t more severe. A sharper turn by the pilot could have resulted in serious injury to some valuable staffers.

Interestingly enough, airplane geeks can’t seem to find note of the incident on any of the airport logs for Midway. Conspiracy theory, anyone?