Crystal unveils jet interior for luxury air tours

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The dining cabin will feature leather chairs imported from Wales.
The dining cabin will feature leather chairs imported from Wales.

NEW YORK — Crystal revealed the interior of the Boeing 777 in its Crystal AirCruises fleet, and it hinted at expansion to come.

Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez said that the company is looking to sell its 787, the aircraft type with which it made a splash when it announced its luxury expansion last year. Crystal aims to focus on a standard fleet of 777s.

The 777, with a wider body than a 787, can typically sit more than 300, Crystal said, but it will carry just 84 passengers on its 14-, 21- and 28-day itineraries, plus crew that includes 12 butlers and a lead butler, a concierge, a chef and a doctor. 

Crystal's Marc Cavaliere said wide aisles will encourage “a surprising amount of mingling” once the seatbelt sign is turned off.
Crystal's Marc Cavaliere said wide aisles will encourage “a surprising amount of mingling” once the seatbelt sign is turned off.

And passengers will be flying in ultimate comfort.

The aircraft, a former Austral Airlines jet, is being retrofitted by a firm in Moses Lake, Wash., that “specializes in widebody, VVIP jet configurations,” said Marc Cavaliere, the new senior vice president of Crystal AirCruises (the company’s air tours brand) and Crystal Luxury Air (the company’s charter service).

The jet will feature a cabin of lie-flat, forward-facing seats and wide aisles that will encourage “a surprising amount of mingling” once the seatbelt sign is turned off, Cavaliere said. A separate, aft cabin will include dining tables, leather dining chairs (imported from Wales) and a lounge area. A good portion of the overhead bins were stripped away, leaving the cabins large and airy.

More than 300 wine bottles will be stored in a main-deck “sky cellar.” Toni Neumeister, Crystal’s vice president of food and beverage operations, will oversee inflight dining with the goal of delivering “Michelin-inspired cuisine.” Rodriguez promised the “latest high-tech, wifi, movies, everything digital.”

It will be “totally curated and delivered in the Crystal fashion,” she said.

The Boeing 777 will have a bar and lounge area. More than 300 wine bottles will be stored in a “sky cellar.”
The Boeing 777 will have a bar and lounge area. More than 300 wine bottles will be stored in a “sky cellar.”

The aircraft cabin’s designs showed a color scheme of gray and muted aqua, Crystal’s hallmark color, similar to the Crystal Esprit yacht and the Crystal Mozart river ship.

Crystal plans to release itineraries in October, with revenue service starting in September 2017. 

Rodriguez was mum on prices, and she said the company was still working out its commission structure on Crystal AirCruises. But she said the pricing would likely be a little higher than its competitors.

The butlers will be sourced from Crystal's current crew, but Rodriguez and Cavaliere emphasized that they would be given aircraft-safety training. "Our mantra is, 'safety first,'" Rodriguez said.

This report was updated to clarify the makeup of the crew and role of the butlers onboard the 777 aircraft.

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