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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:
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#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:
Some more fantastic goodies that we shared:
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.
The burnt ends are out of this world. Melt in your mouth, spicy, smoky, and tangy all at the same time.
And of course their classic dino ribs are the stuffs dreams are made of:
Finally, it was time to head to Teterboro and board the GV to Toulouse. No need to go through any security when you’re flying private,you just walk right on!
With 7 people on the private jet, everyone had a bed across the pond:
Is there a better way to jump the pond?
One of the coolest parts about flying private is the open cockpit:
I changed into my comfy United Polaris PJs in the bathroom, where there’s a whole lot more space to change than there is in United Polaris:
Before landing I went into the open cockpit and took the jumpseat:
Even the pilots took pictures of the Airbus Beluga, designed to ferry aircraft parts and cargo, as we taxied after landed:
It was time to say bye to the GV and get on with our busy day ahead:
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.
We tried out their Stelia Aerospace Opal Business Class Seats. They were fine, but they didn’t feel particularly spacious or luxurious for a business class seat.
Their premium economy and economy seats were both comfortable and spacious.
Next up was Hong Kong Airlines A350:
These have highly rated Rockwell Collins Super Diamond reverse herringbone business class seats:
There are a few cons to these seats. Couples don’t have a good option to converse with each other:
And the footwells can be quite cramped. And as this was an A350, the A330 version would be even more cramped.
New and improved winglet on the left
After seeing some planes in the field, it was time to go to the Airbus mock-up center:
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:
There are also 2-2-2 business class seats to try out in the A330 mock-up:
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 mock-up has an amazing looking first class suites cabin. What a shame that no airline offers these!
A380 First class suites lounge area:
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:
Afterwards it was onto the A350 mockup to try out more seats:
Airbus corporate jet bathroom:
The A220 mockup wasn’t a full length plane like the others, but still exhibited some very comfortable seats on the place that was developed as the Bombardier C-series.
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.
Airbus gave a watch as a gift to everyone in the group:
Now this is how to test how good a business class seat is, try actually falling asleep in it for an hour!
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.
At the museum they had some cool planes on display, like the Concorde. Sadly that beautiful plane was retired before I had a chance to fly on it.
I picked up some fun gifts for my kids like an inflatable A380, that we would bring to Hawaii the next week, a set of Top Trumps Airplane card game that Rafi loved, and a plush Beluga.
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.
Airbus throwing shade at Boeing by labeling some uncomfortable seats as 777 in the mock-up center:
After debating which airlines have the nicest colors, it was time to check out the A330 assembly line:
With the A330 line you can walk on the floor, underneath where the assembly is going on:
Having a few minutes to spare, we then went to the A350 assembly line:
With this more modern line you can view the assembly from above, but can’t walk on the floor below:
After that we went to the try out Airbus’ flight simulators:
The graphics are pretty awesome:
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.
The rest of the food was underwhelming, but I was starving and it was most welcome!
After dinner we burned off some calories strolling around Toulouse:
The next morning Airbus chauffeured us to the private jet terminal in Toulouse.
The private jet terminal used to be the main Toulouse commercial terminal:
And sure enough, we had a Bombardier Global 6000 as our replacement plane, and we went through customs onboard and departed on time:
It’s truly a beautiful plane:
Not a bad way to fly:
An Airbus Beluga, painted like the whale it is:
We flew from Toulouse nonstop to Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport:
The pilots have a heads-up display and all the latest bells and whistles:
The cabin is pressurized to just 4,100 feet, making for an extremely comfortable ride:
I brought food from Le Sabra to be warmed up on the plane:
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!
Avocado egg rolls were very good:
Tostone is plantain pizza and it was amazing! If you don’t eat gluten, this is something that you must try. Well if you do eat gluten it’s a must try as well:
The tostone is served with lots of toppings to assemble:
The seabass bites were also a big hit:
My Aunt Tova was obsessed with her Aroma Pizza, which had Spinach, Artichoke, mushroom, caramelized onion, cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and goat cheese.
My mother ordered the Bruleed Pear Pizza and it was one of the best pizzas I’ve tried. It has Alfredo sauce, ricotta, caramelized onions, pear, & balsamic reduction, topped with fresh arugula.:
My brother-in-law ordered Bourbon Salmon:
I ordered the Fungi Pappardelle, and it was phenomenal!
The truffle fries were also great:
The table next to use got a nice show:
Rich chocolate lovers will love this cake, but it was too rich for my tastes:
However the lemon meringue was simply amazing:
And the creme brulee was one of the best versions of the dish that I’ve ever had:
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.
Finally we drove up to Fort Lauderdale and not wanting to come home empty handed, I got a slice of Levy’s famous babka to bring home for the family:
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!
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61 Comments On "Trip Notes: Flying On A Private Jet To Toulouse And Customizing Planes At Airbus Headquarters"
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Dan. A true legend. Hope you enjoyed
I was like a kid in a candy store 😀
What private jet did you prefer Dan, the Gulfstream or Bombardier?
They both had pros and cons. It’s like asking 747 or A380, porque no los dos? 🙂
Dan you always write about experiences that money can’t buy. This one you can’t even get with miles!
Where do we find out about future DO’s before they happen? Are DO’s open to all or only for select elites (e.g. United GS, etc.)?
Best line – “ I found a Lufthansa First Class award, but the rest of the gang started laughing”
Long read but well worth it. What were your main suggestions?
Thanks for sharing!
ever had from Mikes chicken in Lakewood?
you’re missing out they say money can’t buy happiness I thought that was true until I bought Mikes Chicken (and glatt bites buffalo crispy)
Seconded. You’re truly missing out on fried chicken if you haven’t had Mike’s yet.
Heh, don’t think I’m going to Lakewood for fried chicken. But will keep it in mind.
Dan when are you getting yourself a pilot license?
I’d love to. Just need to find the time!
just curiosu with all the ubering aroound what percent of the ratio of the cost price do you pay with uber. after all gift cards promo codes and miles earned form lets say delta at 1.1 cent per point and uber rewards what percentage relative to the price do you pay for uber? like a 100 dollar ride cost YOU DAN how much at the end of the day? 50 dollars 60 dollars etc
can i trouble you to give me a quick 10s split second explantion as to how you pay )percent? would love to know
Referral credits from back in the good old days 🙂
Dan, was there turbulence on the private jet and did you feel it more than on the large commercial planes?
There was. I didn’t think it was any worse than on a large plane.
So in general do you think Airbus is more comfortable than Boeing?
ohmigosh I so LOVE reading your trip reports. Your tone is always so optimistic and happy and enjoyable. The plane’s accommodations looked simply magnificent. And then the photos of the food started! LOL I LOVED the report!
Comments like this make them worth writing 🙂
Awesome trip report! The one question I have is, how is Tova Newman your aunt??
Wow, long read, skimmed it, and will read again slowly!
Why do you white out the tail numbers on the Gulfstream?
Forgive me, in the airbus corporate jet bathroom, is that 2 toilet seats facing other?
Lol, no. Just a bench.
Dan how did you make through so many planes?
Dizzy just from looking at the pics !
Never get tired of exploring planes 🙂
That must have been amazing!
Would love to see your flight simulation attempt 😉
Tough to fly and record at the same time 😉
Sure, but I wasn’t expecting to do this.
If there’s a demand…..
Great read! What a treat of a trip.
Thanks! This was a fun one indeed!
I don’t have a mile to my name but I did fly the Concord from NY to London for free. I flew as an on board courier for TNT Sky Pack back in the day when they used people who didn’t need much advance time to fly and give up their luggage allowance so TNT could use it.
Not a very comfortable flight, very low ceiling, the meal was served on dishes with a carnation, but did not get a kosher meal as it required more time to book.
Love reading your trips.
May not have been comfortable, but still bummed I missed out on that era.
DL: I, too, flew for TNT, back in the day! AND, I got to fly the Concorde from London to NYC, for free. I loved it! I was surprised how small the plane was, but I found it very comfortable. By they time they finished food service, we were over Boston. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to experience the Concorde.
So cool! Reminds me of my trip to Cathay Pacific HQ in HK a few years ago. Got to tour their facility which included several flight simulators and plane mock ups to train the flight attendants.
How did the Airbus tour compare to the Boeing tour in Everett?
Haven’t been yet.
Why are the instruments flashing on the GV ? Can the Pilots properly use them while flashing
They’re not flashing, that’s just what happens when you take a video of them.
It was all very interesting. I enjoyed watching the clip of the pilots landing.
Glad you enjoyed!
Dan – this trip report is awesome, coolest thing you’ve ever done IMHO! My only “issue” with is is why did we have to wait a year to read about it
I think Svalbard, Antarctica, Palau, throwing out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series, stealing 2nd base in middle of an Indians game, etc. were cooler, but this was certainly up there.
For various reasons, I wasn’t able to publish it until now.
Just to clarify that I understood this right; the next time I’m on an airbus and the seats are not comfortable it will be Dans fault for not choosing more comfortable ones?
Not necessarily 😉
U’ve got to b kiddding!
you really didnt attach a link to the onion? wow. I really hope people know its fake news
Dan, I like all your posts, but I especially LOVE the trip reports! And this is one of the best ones. Thank you for posting.
Just got to read this, and it was fantastic. I love your writing, pictures and your evident delight in the details of the trip.
I also love your food critique. It is before supper for me and you have a great camera, so it really all sure LOOKS good 🙂
Thank you for some relaxing and enjoyable entertainment.
Wow beautiful is not the word! Insane pics and seems like you really enjoyed. Good for you! And thanks for sharing.
So how did he clip the wing?
My Guess is that the Airline was Singapore.
What an awesome write up. I loved reading it from beginning to end. but mainly the giddy private jet excitement