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An exclusive look inside the $160,000-a-seat private Boeing 757 charter, with just 48 first-class seats

Oct. 13, 2022
11 min read
interior private jet
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Want to see whale sharks, Bengal tigers, lemurs, gorillas and the Big Five on a single three-week trip?

You could visit a few zoos, or you could see them all (as well as many more of the world's most exotic animals) in their natural habitats on a whirlwind, around-the-world journey with famed luxury tour outfitter Abercrombie & Kent.

Prefer taking in the world's cultural treasures or visiting multiple off-the-beaten-path destinations during a single trip? Abercrombie & Kent has a package for you, too. (It's called the Cultural Treasures: Around the World by Private Jet 2023 tour.)

Whether you’re road-tripping or globetrotting, the suite life is always better. Download the free TPG App to upgrade your travel!

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While A&K has long provided ground-based tours for nearly every type of trip you could envision, the company is (literally and figuratively) elevating the experience with its private jet journeys. These exclusive tours whisk you around the world in a private chartered jet, bringing you directly to the nature, culture and unique experiences that would otherwise require multiple flights, complicated transfers and a never-ending list of logistics.

For the right price, you can avoid all the hassles by joining an A&K private jet journey. While there's no great way to redeem points for these $160,000 (or more) adventures, you'll definitely get what you pay for — from the flights to the five-star resorts to the scrumptious meals, nearly everything is included with your fare.

ABERCROMBIE & KENT

Now, with ticket prices that cost more than 16 trips in Emirates' game-changer first-class suite, you might be dreaming about how you'll fly across the globe.

Here's your answer.

A very special Boeing 757

While Abercrombie & Kent offers a few private jet journeys each year, the outfitter doesn't actually own the planes. Instead, it wet leases a 22-year-old Boeing 757-200 from Icelandair.

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As part of the agreement, Icelandair provides the flight crew, handles all the maintenance, arranges the catering and deals with all the flight-related logistics. Abercrombie & Kent tells Icelandair where to go, and the Keflavik-based carrier takes care of the rest.

The average traveler might not even realize that Icelandair is involved in the Abercrombie & Kent journey. You won't find any of Icelandair's Saga premium seats on board, nor will you see the airline's new (or old) livery anywhere.

From the large Abercrombie & Kent logo plastered on the front of the jet to the signature ampersand and on the tail, this jet is distinctly Abercrombie & Kent. Plus, with A&K-branded carpets, headrest covers and magazines, there's no question you're traveling with the luxury tour provider.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

But diving deeper reveals a different story.

For one, the jet's TF-FIC registration code means that it's registered in Iceland. Turns out, the plane used to fly commercially for Icelandair (as well as for Thomas Cook and American Trans Air, to name a few) before being converted into a VIP configuration and leased out to Abercrombie & Kent, as well as other luxury tour providers.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While the 12 Keflavik-based crew members are fluent in English, you'll hear them communicating with each other in Icelandic. If you pick up the safety card, you'll see that the aircraft operator is actually Icelandair.

Although Icelandair may not offer any lie-flat seats on its commercial jets, it's a whole different story on this luxurious Boeing 757.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Featuring 48 first-class seats

As you ascend the air stairs attached to door 2L on the 757, you won't have to worry about whether you're turning left or right — the entire cabin features the exact same type of first-class seat.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

(Since you'll be flying to smaller airports and parking in the general aviation area, I'd expect that air stairs will be used at most, if not all, stops. Note that this could pose a problem for those with limited mobility.)

The cream-colored, forward-facing leather seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration across one large 12-row cabin.

For someone who's never been on a private 757 before, it was pretty incredible to see such a sparse configuration. In contrast, Icelandair's standard 757-200 cabin features 183 seats spread across 34 rows.

With just 48 first-class seats, the cabin felt airy and spacious — unlike any other Boeing 757 I've flown before. Dare I say it, but the spacious configuration felt somewhat like flying on a wide-body.

While you won't find some of the conveniences of a twin-aisle jet, such as large overhead bins, tall ceilings and wide cabins, this Boeing 757 is easily one of the most luxurious in the skies, and it offers quite a unique way to fly around the world.

That said, you will notice there is one big drawback of flying on a single-aisle 757: The fuel tanks aren't large enough to store enough fuel for the longest journeys, so some of the transoceanic legs require a fuel stop or two. On the morning of TPG's ground tour, the jet was preparing to fly from Seattle to Tokyo, but it needed to stop in Anchorage to refuel.

Spacious lie-flat seats

Though the plane doesn't feature private suites with sliding doors, the 2-2 forward-facing configuration gives each passenger an incredible amount of personal space.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Similar to how I was pleasantly surprised when recently flying Delta's used Airbus A350 (which features a forward-facing business-class cabin), the seats on this 757 are perfect for those looking to rest, recharge or relax. Plus, since many travelers on these expeditions are couples, the lack of privacy may not be much of an issue.

Each leather-padded recliner features a whopping 78 inches of pitch — roughly in line with what you'd find in most international first-class products.

Though Abercrombie & Kent markets these seats as first class, they'd likely be branded as business class by most airlines these days since they don't have privacy doors or feature direct aisle access. That said, the cabin is quite intimate, and many of the touches feel unquestionably first class.

The seats themselves measure 19 inches wide with a nearly 6-inch-wide armrest separating the seats. There's also a privacy shield that you can raise from the armrest if you're looking to zone out.

The intuitive seat controls are built directly into the armrest and feature a few customization options and a massage feature.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

You'll find an ottoman built into the floor in front of you, similar to the one in Lufthansa first class. There's an exposed storage area under each ottoman, which is the perfect place to store your shoes after changing into the provided slippers.

A literature pocket filled with some Abercrombie & Kent magazines and other important information about your journey separates each ottoman.

The sturdy wood-grain tray table pops out of the armrest with the push of a button. It measures 23 inches long and 16 inches wide — large enough to enjoy all your multicourse meals or catch up on some work while on board.

When it's time to rest, one of the nine flight attendants will happily turn your seat into a fully-flat bed, which measures over 75 inches long when fully reclined. The open configuration without any constricting footwells feels much more spacious than what you'd find in most international business-class products.

During turndown service, the crew will place a thick mattress pad, plush duvet and down pillow on your bed, making it even easier to get comfortable.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

There are four lavatories on board the aircraft — three near the back and one at the front of the plane.

Though none of them are oversized, they do feature some first-class touches, such as fresh flowers hanging from the mirrors, L'Occitane beauty products and terry hand towels to dry your hands.

No stone unturned

The first-class experience really takes off with the range of amenities offered along with the personalized service.

Waiting at your seat for each leg of the journey is a day pillow, Bose noise-canceling headphones, an amenity kit and a loaner iPad.

Due to supply chain issues, Abercrombie & Kent's signature amenity kits weren't available during our exclusive media preview, but we're told to expect an assortment of luxury health and beauty products inside.

While there are no inflight entertainment screens at each seat, a provided iPad connects wirelessly to an onboard server to stream movies and TV shows. The jet is also equipped with satellite Wi-Fi, which is available free of charge throughout the journey.

Each pair of seats features three universal power outlets and USB-A ports — two next to the individual reading lamps and one just under the literature shelf near the ottoman.

During boarding, the crew hands out a leather-bound menu etched with the Abercrombie & Kent logo. Inside, you'll find the food and drink menu, which is customized for each leg of the journey.

Lunch on the Seattle-to-Japan sector started with Dungeness crab, followed by either a grilled halibut or a lamb fillet as an entree, with a chocolate mousse for dessert.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

A range of top-shelf liquors, wines, beers and ports is available, as is an assortment of soft drinks and juices. The 757 even features an espresso machine for all your caffeine needs.

You'll find the full drink menus in the gallery below.

These aren't just "regular" first-class airplane meals, either. There's an onboard chef who travels with the group and can customize any dishes to your preferences. Prefer your steak cooked rare, or to eat just before landing? Just ask.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

During boarding, you'll receive a light bite consisting of a freshly dipped chocolate-covered strawberry, a macaron and a glass of Dom Perignon 2012.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Despite the plane being 22 years old, the cabin was as fresh as ever. I observed the crew using a dust buster in the aisles and in the crevices between each seat to pick up any small speck of dirt. It was clear that they were very excited about delivering a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the passengers.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Speaking of the crew, there are nine flight attendants and three pilots on these missions, for a 1:5 crew-to-guest ratio. Expect the flight attendants to get to know your name and your preferences throughout the journey.

The cabin is entirely first-class seating with one exception: the crew seating.

The crew travels along with the plane, and on longer sectors, they sit in regular economy seats that are spread throughout the cabin. There are two recliner-style first-class seats located just behind the forward galley, which is where the pilots rest during their breaks.

Bottom line

With Abercrombie & Kent's private jet trips, the journey matters just as much as the destination.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

If you can afford the $160,000-a-seat expedition, you'll enjoy a first-rate travel experience that tops many of the world's best airlines. With an onboard chef whipping up five-star meals, spacious leather lie-flat seats and a no-hassles travel journey, you may never want to fly commercially again.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

For everyone else, keep racking up the points for a trip in Emirates first class or Singapore Suites. These top-notch cabins may not be the same as a private Boeing 757 charter, but they're about as close as you'll come without the hundred-grand price tag.

Featured image by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees