Transforms an A330 into a yacht-like luxury experience

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that puts the spotlight on some of the most fascinating topics in the travel world. In June, we take to the skies for a look at the latest developments in aircraft interiors, including the people who are working to change the way we fly.

(CNN) – The fact that the mega-rich go to great lengths to adapt their private jets to suit their lifestyle is not new.

And we’re not just talking about your average business jet. For decades, world leaders, royalty and billionaires have equipped the types of aircraft most of us fly commercially, made by Airbus and Boeing.

But the options on the table are becoming increasingly wild.

Among the leaders in the adaptation game is Germany’s Lufthansa Technik, which recently developed a cabin concept that draws inspiration from another thing one must have for the wealthy – the superyacht.

According to the company, the EXPLORER widebody VIP cabin concept fulfills two wishes for flight owners: to take their planes almost anywhere anytime, while serving as a base camp when traveling – a place to sleep and also enjoy leisure activities and excursions.

Just like a superyacht.

The Lufthansa Technik team chose the Airbus A330 to showcase the concept and has released a series of renderings that demonstrate the possibilities.

These include the usual must-haves such as bedrooms, bathrooms, bars and dining areas. But the highlight is without a doubt the pull-out porch – a floor in the front fuselage area that can extend outwards when the plane is parked, and sits at a height of about four meters above the apron.

Up close comes a large-scale integrated projection system for virtual content. It extends from the window belt and reaches up to the ceiling. Customers can choose their own lighting and images by using a high-tech projection system to create scenes such as green forests and star-studded skies.

BRABUS Adventure Lounge

BRABUS Adventure Lounge: A place to store the toys.

BRABUS Adventure Lounge: A place to store the toys.

Coutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

The EXPLORER concept was first launched in November 2021, and the company recently presented a new grant at an aviation conference in Geneva in May – the BRABUS Adventure Lounge.

The concept places the saloon in the rear of the A330’s lower deck, which can be seen from the main deck through a glass floor.

Again, the superyacht, with its garage for tenders and toys, was the inspiration. A selection of vehicles can be stored in the Adventure Lounge for use after landing.

The concept contains a limited edition of the BRABUS 1300 R, made in collaboration with the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM.

Wieland Timm, sales manager for VIP and special assignment aircraft at Lufthansa Technik, tells CNN Travel via e-mail that the salon shows only “one striking example of what this exploration aspect can look like” during flight.

“Luxury motorcycles are exclusively staged in the available lower deck,” he explains. “Once landed, they can be unloaded and give passengers the freedom to explore their current destination in more detail.”

As for why Lufthansa Technik chose the A330 for the EXPLORER concept, Timm says that this classic wide-body aircraft “offers sufficient space for a large number of new cabin ideas and also a sufficient range to fulfill the special wishes of the EXPLORER target group.”

However, he notes that EXPLORER-type interiors can also be installed in other wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

Who shows interest?

Timm says that the target group for the EXPLORER concept consists of “the rather ‘classic’ ultra-rich individuals who travel and explore the world in ultimate luxury and – most of all – privacy, but also charter operators of such high-class luxury travel (offers for example 14-day trips around the world in a price range from $ 100,000 to $ 200,000 per week). ”

He says they also expect some owners to take a hybrid approach.

“For example, a wealthy person who owns an EXPLORER aircraft, but uses it only one month a year. For the rest of the year, this person will also rent it out to other operators / users.”

An artist's rendering of the terrace.

An artist’s rendering of the terrace.

Coutesy Lufthansa Technik AG

So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, he says, noting that they have already received inquiries from customers who want to implement one or more of EXPLORER’s technical gadgets in their current or future cabin completion projects.

He notes that it is unlikely that an airline owner will take on the whole concept as a whole, but given that it is technically feasible, the cabin can be produced as shown. Instead, customers are likely to tailor certain design elements to their own needs.

“The simple reason is that the VIP Completions business, especially for wide-body aircraft, is very individual to match the owner’s personal needs … The vast majority of the aircraft we complete for our customers are thus truly unique.”

How close is that superyacht experience?

Given that superyachts have much more freedom when it comes to anchoring and mobility, we asked Timm how common it is for owners to spend the night on the plane while it is on the ground at an airport.

He says that various airports will allow them to park their planes and practically “stay” there for a certain amount of time.

“Some of our customers are already using this,” he adds. «The reasons are different and have to do with the fact that these customers often also use the aircraft as office space and thus receive the customers on site.

“Others prefer to stay on the plane overnight for security reasons. In the described EXPLORER use case, however, the airport serves as a home base and a starting point for further adventure / exploration.”