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How a rescheduled flight turned into a private jet experience for one lucky traveler


(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Editor’s note: A Delta spokesperson told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the flight Vincent Peone boarded last week as its only passenger did not ultimately depart. The flight taxied, then returned to the gate because of mechanical issues, and later took off without passengers aboard, the spokesperson said. A Delta social media account previously retweeted Peone regarding what he described as his experience. Peone, who spoke to The Post on Monday about the flight, has not returned repeated calls and emails seeking comment on the information Delta provided Wednesday. An updated story has been posted here.

Having your flight rescheduled is usually a negative experience. But if you’re Vincent Peone, it can lead to one of the most noteworthy travel moments of your life.

Last week, Peone, a New York-based director, was attempting to fly home from Aspen, Colo., through Salt Lake City. The first leg of his journey was delayed, and because of some glitch in the matrix (or just a really slow travel day in Aspen), Peone ended up being the only passenger on his Delta flight to Salt Lake City.

Naturally, the media professional in him knew to document his luck in snagging a pseudo-private jet by making a video for social media, which made the rounds on Twitter. The video starts inside the Aspen airport with a couple flight attendants announcing Peone’s flight is ready to board.

“Will the only passenger on this flight please board at this time?”

Peone murmurs an excited “that’s me,” and is escorted to his empty Delta flight. He watches as airport employees add weight to the plane to make up for the lack on board, and is then treated to a personal greeting from the flight attendant, cocktail in hand. Then it’s business as usual after takeoff. Flight attendants still make the standard announcements during the flight — just to an audience of one.

Peone ends the video with a triumphant photo standing in the doorway of the jet. His victory is our victory. Here’s what he told us about his adventure. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Q: What an experience. How did you find out that you were going to be alone on your flight?

A: The flight was actually rescheduled, which I think had everything to do with it. I’m Diamond Medallion [status], so Delta was very good to me. I had called them and got some information about what was available. Coming back [to the airport] at 7 p.m. meant I would have gotten to see more of Aspen, because it was a short trip anyway, so I took the later option.

I didn’t know that I was the only person on the flight. So I arrived at the airport, which is a very tiny airport, and at the desk, they were like, “I don’t know if we even need to make the announcement, because it’s just you.” I was like, “Oh, no. Do the announcement.” Obviously everyone really enjoyed playing along.

It was an altogether very fun experience with a couple of tequila sodas involved when I finally sat down.

Q: Were you upgraded?

A: Oh, yeah. There’s one more video of me, which I didn’t post, and [an attendant] was just like, “Sit wherever you want,” which was kind of amazing. I made a joke that it was the best bar in Aspen that night for sure.

Q: When you got to pick any seat, did you go aisle or window?

A: That’s a really good question. It was one of those two-seaters; it was a smaller flight. So I sat window and aisle. I was tempted to try to set a record to sit in every single seat for like, two minutes on the flight, so that I could actually sit everywhere. But I didn’t feel that ambitious.


(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Q: When you started filming everything, were the flight attendants and the pilots cool with it? Did they think it was funny, too?

A: I didn’t really ask for permission, I just did it, and fortunately, every step of the way, everybody was really sweet. The pilots letting me shake their hands — that was the most surprising part. It reminded me of an experience you’d have flying in the ’50s or something. It was very positive, and they thought it was very funny.

But I was like: Why would they even do this? Why even fly the plane? Delay me or cancel or something! One of the women said, “It’s probably about $30,000 to get you to Salt Lake City today.” But I guess the reason was they had to fly there to pick people up and bring them back.

Q: Has Delta reached out to you since you tweeted the video?

A: They haven’t formally reached out, but they tweeted at me. They were pretty on it.

Q: Had you flown private before?

A: I have never flown on a true private jet. But I have filmed on them before; I’ve physically been on them, but they were grounded.

I think you should end the story with an invitation to a private jet for me. Invite anyone to actually fly me private.

Read more:

What happens when an airline pilot is arrested for drinking on the job?

The completely correct guide to reclining on an airplane

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