Parked on the runway of Subang Skypark, the imposing Boeing 777-200LR looked like a commercial carrier on the outside. But inside the plane, there was a grand lounge with polished black-and-white tables and chairs. Further back, the most posh neutral-tone leather passenger seats came into view.
It’s like something from the ostentatious world of Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians. But this magnificent aircraft is no fictional piece of work. In fact, it is the world’s largest luxury private jet and the only one with twin aisles. Welcome aboard Crystal Skye.
Launched in August this year, this one-of-a-kind luxury lifestyle vessel comes under Crystal AirCruises, a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong Limited.
More personal space
At a special showcase in Malaysia early this month, Crystal AirCruises president Thatcher Brown said part of the aircraft’s goal is to provide a unique and luxurious aviation experience.
“No one has ever converted a jet of this size before, to leverage on the experiences that we have to offer on board,” he said, pointing to the higher head space and various amenities on the plane.
To get a sense of the aircraft’s spaciousness, one need only look at the guest volume – or lack of it. Crystal Skye seats 88 guests in a plane that could originally hold 386 passengers before it was retrofitted.
The idea, according to Brown, is to create more personal space and therefore comfort. All passenger seats can be converted into 180° flat-beds.
The bells and whistles do not end there. Guests will also enjoy spacious lavatories with luxury toiletries, interactive TVs with on-demand programming, noise-cancelling headphones and complimentary global WiFi.
Brown also said that they cater for passengers with disabilities, as the aisles are wide enough for wheelchairs to go through while two of the six lavatories are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair-bound guest.
But perhaps what’s most impressive is the expansive social lounge up front, with mood lighting, where guests can dine on delectable international cuisines. Or play a game of cards or boardgames.
“Our first charter was with the NHL hockey team that flew from Vancouver to Shanghai. The players really loved the WiFi and the social area,” Brown recalled.
Meanwhile, credit for the design and aesthetics of the plane goes to Crystal AirCruises Vice President Richard Ziskind.
“We went through many months of drawing. But even when we had drawn something, we continued to work on it because you never really know how good something is going to be,” said Ziskind, adding that the seats were made in Britain, while the stand-up bar was designed and made in Texas.
Crystal Skye took about 18 months to design, and Ziskind couldn’t be more proud of the end result.
Service in the sky
Of course, there’s safety and service to look into – two components that the aircraft takes seriously, said Brown.
“Our staff are trained primarily for safety, and secondly for service,” he said, adding that the sky butlers (flight attendants) are trained to the highest aviation standards.
“There’s very rigorous training. After that, what makes our service special is that we have our hotel operations team come and they train the crew on board,” explained Brown.
Crystal Skye also claims to have the highest crew to passenger ratio on any twin-aisle aircraft.
He added that the service, food and various experiences on board can be personalised according to requirements, such as adjusting the number of butlers and service attendants.
At present, Crystal Skye operates out of Hong Kong and, soon, Singapore too.
“Basically, we want to make it easier for people to fly in and then fly out. Hong Kong has great hotel infrastructure. So if you want to come a day early, you can enjoy the city before flying out. Singapore has great infrastructure, too,” said Brown.
They would be happy to also include Kuala Lumpur if there’s enough demand, he said.
Another enticing aspect about flying with Crystal Skye would be its specially curated experiences. Last month, the aircraft had its inaugural sold-out air cruise to the South Pacific islands of Tahiti and Fiji.
The air cruise, according to Brown, combined the convenience of air travel and the fun of land tours.
One notable upcoming trip is the double New Year’s celebration in Sydney, Australia, and Hawaii on Dec 30.
“After celebrating the New Year in Australia, we will be crossing the International Date Line to count down to 2018 again in Hawaii,” explained Brown.
Passengers will usher in the New Year at the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge before jetting off to the beaches of Honolulu to count down 2018 for the second time. That voyage can be credited to the aircraft’s ability to fly non-stop for 19 hours.