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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Live the High Life in a Converted Airplane

Pat-downs from the Transportation Security Agency, seat auctions and fees spiraling out of control have made commercial air travel a real drag. In the 1930s and 1940s, boarding a passenger plane and flying to a faraway place was thrilling and glamorous and luxurious.

Unfortunately, but for the lucky few who can afford the awesome perks of business class, the glory days of commercial airline passenger comfort are long gone.

Thankfully, the romance and excitement of the early days of commercial flying lives on via a few ingenious entrepreneurs and architects around the world who dug deep into the sexy history of air travel and created amazing homes and hotels from decommissioned and/or deconstructed commercial aircraft.

Let's check out the high life in several converted airline properties. Prepare for liftoff.

Hotel Costa Verde

The Hotel Costa Verde overlooks the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica.
Photo: Hotel Costa Verde

High on a coastal rainforest bluff that overlooks the sparkling Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica, the Hotel Costa Verde offers sun-seeking vacationers a variety of accommodations from open-air rooms to private bungalows to the cozy fuselage of a refurbished 1965 Boeing 727.

The quirky and kooky suite, which formerly flew for Avianca Airlines, now cantilevers over the jungle atop a 50-foot pedestal and offers guests all the luxuries of a traditional suite - but with a serious twist. A spiral river-rock staircase leads up to the fuselage suite’s entrance and a pair of covered decks with treetop jungle views and a vista of the ocean through swaying palm trees.

The Hotel Costa Verde sits on a 50-foot pedestal above the Costa Rican jungle.
Photo: Hotel Costa Verde

Custom teak paneling covers the walls and ceiling of the entire interior, from cockpit to tail. The covered decks provide up-close encounters with the rainforest’s diverse flora and fauna and the well-appointed living spaces inside the body of the airplane offer the conveniences of home. A sitting area has a television and the kitchenette has an adjacent dining area. There are two air-conditioned bedrooms including one with two double beds and porthole windows.

Max Power

Max Power Aero sells $200,000 homes that were once working aircraft.
Photo: Max Power Aero

If a few days in a retrofitted fuselage in the Costa Rican jungle isn’t enough to satisfy your urge to shack up in an airplane, there are a number of companies such as Max Power Aero that offer the sale, customization and installation of decommissioned aircraft for re-use as funky private homes.

Prices start at around $200,000 and Max Power Aero offers potential buyers the option to have the fuselage mounted on rotating pedestal that allows the plane to weathervane and point into the wind.

Jumbo Stay Hostel

Entrepreneur Oscar Dios turned a former jumbo jet into a Stockholm, Sweden hostel.
Photo: Lioba Schneider

At the entrance to the Arlanda airport in Stockolm, Sweden, hostel entrepreneur Oscar Diös transformed a former Pan Am 747-200 jumbo jet into a modern and sophisticated hostel conveniently located just a 10 minute walk to the international airport’s check-in terminals.

Although some of the original parts and signage remain, much of the interior of the plane was removed and replaced with 27 individual cabins of varying configurations. There are a total of nine bathrooms on the plane, some of them communal.

Jumbo Stay’s first-class lounge offers pre-packaged meals that are similar to those served on commercial airplanes.
Photo: Lioba Schneider

Along with the first-class lounge located in the upper level cabin and furnished with the aircraft’s original first-class seats, the Jumbo Stay Hostel offers guests (and visitors) an on-board café in the nose cone where pre-packaged meals are served “in-flight” style on small plastic trays by staff wearing vintage air-hostess uniforms.

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