- Find dozens of DansDeals trip reports here.
- Follow my travels and more on Instagram @DansDeals
- Find Trip Reports and contribute your own trip reports on DDF
- Find Destinations Threads and helpful travel wikis on DDF
In January, earlier this year, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was invited to join an airline for a full day affair at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse where they would be configuring their A330-900neo aircraft.
And getting to Toulouse? I’d be flying on a Gulfstream V private jet nonstop from Teterboro.
Say no more, I was onboard!
I was booked on a United flight to Newark on Sunday morning and my Global Services upgrade came through minutes later. I was skeptical that the flight would take off given the weather waivers issued for Cleveland and NYC, but that was in G-d’s hands.
Cleveland got walloped with over a foot of snow and driving to the airport was the scariest drive I’ve ever done. But while other airlines like American, JetBlue, and Southwest wiped out all of their flights, United operated normally and we left on time.
Other families heading south for Yeshiva week were very happy if they booked the United flight to Fort Lauderdale and very disappointed if they booked JetBlue.
Having landed on time in Newark, we had a DDF DO at Patis Bakery with DDF members AJK and Something Fishy. It was our first get-together since Antarctica.
Chef Moses Wendel, the magician behind now defunct Pardes, opened this bakery in Lyndhurst, NJ and it’s a home run!
Best of all they have tons of free samples, so you can try out the deliciousness and then order.
The cheesy farm egg croissant is out of this world:
View this post on Instagram
#Breakfast @patis_bakery in Lyndhurst, NJ was phenomenal! Definitely rivals Zak's! Cheesy farm egg croissant, avocado toast, Blueberry Lemon Cheese Danish, cheesecake, and Snickers cake were all out of this world! @chefmoseswendel is a magician! Though I still miss #Pardes
The Avocado Toast is a perfect version of this millennial treat:
A lemon blueberry cheese danish is excellent as well:
Snickers cake and cheesecake are rich, creamy, and amazing:
Realizing that it didn’t make sense to spend the entire day in Jersey, I took an Uber to the Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens. After all, it’s one of the top things to do on a Sunday in NYC according the the New York Times.
Afterwards I headed to Crown Heights for another DDF DO, this time with DDF members MileageJunkie, Meirs, chff, and whYME.
When I was younger, going to Crown Heights meant suffering through some terrible food, but now it’s become a kosher foodie heaven.
Izzy’s makes what’s probably the best kosher meats in the world.
Before landing I went into the open cockpit and took the jumpseat:
The GV in Toulouse:
Customs was quickly performed on the plane and Airbus chauffeured us from the tarmac to the Hotel Pullman at Toulouse airport. Everyone got a room and I was able to daven and take a shower before heading back down to meetup with the group at breakfast.
The airline CEO outlined the goals of the day, which primarily was to determine the optimal economy, premium economy, and business class seats for their A330-900neo.
Airbus representatives then went over the day’s agenda, which would take us all across Toulouse:
Aviation blogger Alex Macheras and I were just along for the ride and our opinions.
Airbus started by taking us to their delivery center to walk through built planes that were being outfitted with various seats.
Air Senegal A330-900neo’s will be used to fly between Dakar and Paris.
Their premium economy and economy seats were both comfortable and spacious.
A jumbo A380 awaits to greet you as you enter the doors. This was before Airbus officially killed off the model:
Trying out Vantage XL business class seats in the mock-up center’s A330:
The A330 is designed for 8 seats across, but low-cost carriers have been clamoring for a 9 across solution ans this is it. It is really, really tight!
Due to the narrow seat, airlines have to get a little extra seat pitch, which means they can’t fit in as many seats as you would expect.
The A380 mockup’s bathroom is strikingly similar to what Emirates has on their A380:
Airbus then took us into their new crew-rest style beds that want airlines to try out in the luggage compartment.
Airlines can upsell these beds to economy class passengers and they can configure planes with the exact right number of “dorms” for each flight.
It’s a neat concept, but there were lots of questions.
- Who would enforce who’s bed was who’s?
- What could be done about passenger safety from turbulence in a compartment where you need to bend down in order to walk through it? And what about safety from other passengers in confined quarters?
- Would these beds cannibalize sales of premium economy seats?
- How much revenue would be lost from cargo?
I don’t know if we’ll ever see this concept in real life, but they were neat to try out. Airbus even has you go down the same narrow staircase and low ceilings to simulate how they would work on an A330 or A350 equipped with them:
Seat manufactures like Zodiac wanted to sell us on an improved 2-2-2 seating concept with large and comfortable beds. They were comfortable no doubt, but it’s hard to see passengers paying a premium for a seat that requires maneuvering over other passengers due to the lack of direct aisle access for everyone, no matter how comfortable the bed might be.
My KSML at the Airbus cafe 😉
In middle of lunch we got word that the Private Jet servicing contractor at the airport damaged the flaps on the GV, so a couple of us drove back to the airport to examine the damage:
Gulfstream could send out a repair team, but that would take a couple of days.
So I did what I usually do in case of irregular operations, I started searching for award tickets back home. I found a Lufthansa First Class award, but the rest of the gang started laughing. You don’t look for commercial transport back when your private jet gets damaged. You let the powers that be work on finding another private jet to get you back.
Now that’s the life.
After trying out seats, Airbus chauffeured some of us to the Musée Aeroscopia, an aviation museum that also is home to the Airbus gift shop.
Back at Airbus Headquarters it was time to pick out fabrics, leathers, and colors for the plane. The potential options seemed limitless and reminded me of creating a custom talis and tefilin bag with Judaica Creations.
With this more modern line you can view the assembly from above, but can’t walk on the floor below:
Here are some videos of the other guys taking off and landing. With the full motion simulator you can really get nauseous and tossed around when the pilot is not an expert!
Definitely going to have to brush up on my own skills with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 when it’s released!
Our group stayed in La Cour des Consuls Hotel and Spa, which is part of Accor’s Mgallery Collection. It’s the top rated hotel in Toulouse and was an excellent place to spend the night.
There are 2 kosher restaurants in Toulouse and the pizza shop closes when they feel like it, so our only option was Le Sabra. Luckily all of their meat was Glatt kosher.
Airbus chauffeured us there, which was good as the neighborhood around the restaurant seemed rather sketchy.
The egg rolls were phenomenal, alas they were the highlight of the night.
It’s truly a beautiful plane:
Not a bad way to fly:
The westbound flight was much longer, but it’s hard not to be giddy in a plane like this. The time flew by and before I knew it we were landing in Miami. There may not be a shower onboard, but it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the best way to fly. If only I could use my miles for it 😀
Customs in Miami-Opa Locka Airport took just a minute and I called for an UberX. A Suburban was waiting there, a pretty sweet upgrade from UberX, and we drove me to Noma, where I met up with family to enjoy a dinner during my connection.
I went to Noma in January 2018 when they opened and it was pretty terrible.
But I heard that Chef David Benrey took over and was whipping the place into shape.
His presentation is legendary and the food was amazing!
Alas, Chef Benrey has already moved on and is now opening Street Kitchen in Surfside. I’m excited to try that out!
I ordered the Fungi Pappardelle, and it was phenomenal!
Rich chocolate lovers will love this cake, but it was too rich for my tastes:
Unfortunately my JetBlue flight was delayed by several hours. My Aunt Tova, who Instagrams @MadeJewLaugh loves to go to restaurants and order their top dish or 2.
I was too full to move when she went into several places, but after a couple of hours she dragged me into Dixie BBQ and had me try the fried chicken tenders. They were indeed fantastic. Though my favorite kosher fried chicken by far is still from Hen House in Overland Park, KS.
I had left home at 4am on Sunday and didn’t get back until 3am Wednesday, but it was such a unique trip to experience. Au Revoir, Toulouse!