What would we do without the Wright Brothers' invention? Travel would be less attainable, less comfortable, and much, much slower. Still, in this day and age, most us take flying for granted - along with the cumbersome baggage limits and limited leg space. But some among the 1% have a significantly different, more privileged experience of air travel. Some billionaires with the available means to travel in style have taken the flying experience to a whole new level, outfitting and pimping their million dollar planes with million dollar customizations.
Other organizations, such as the US military, don't spend millions on flashy additions to customize their planes, but rather invest millions upon millions of dollars right off the bat to invest in the most technologically advanced, safest and most practical aircraft.
Whatever they're used for - as flying hotels, as ground troop transporters, as droppers of cargo or bombs - there’s no question that these vehicles are some of the most eye-wateringly expensive things out there. Here, we've compiled the ultimate ten most expensive planes in the world today, including both private jets and military aircrafts.
10 Boeing 747-8 VIP - $153 million
This “VIP” model of the Boeing 747-8 is owned by Hong Kong real estate billionaire Joseph Lau. It is called the “Dreamliner” and features an exclusive design with all of the latest technology so that Lau can travel in luxury when checking out his properties. Some of the features include vaulted ceilings, video displays on the walls, and spiral staircases. The normal 747-8 Intercontinental can seat 467 passengers, although Lau’s pimped out version seats quite a few less because of the extravagant additions he’s made to his beautiful bird.
9 Boeing 747-400 Custom - $220 million
This customized version of the Boeing 747-400 belongs to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. After purchasing the plane in 2003, the prince outfitted the plane with two luxury bedrooms, a dining table for 14 people, and even a throne in the middle of the plane. So while the prince flies in this sky-palace, even though he’s not the pilot, he can make sure to remind everyone on board who the REAL boss is. 11 flight attendants are always on board to make sure the prince is well pampered.
8 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye - $232 million
This unusual military plane was developed by the Grumman Aircraft Company, and is used by the US Navy as a replacement for the earlier E-1 Tracer. It is an all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, meaning that it has seriously advanced APY-9 radar systems, an advanced radio suite, integrated satellite communication capability, turboprop engines, a tactical glass cockpit, and advanced electronic scanning. Basically, this is the ultimate plane for surveillance and reconnaissance. It's also has Cooperative Engagement Capability allowing the plane to use overland cruise missiles from platforms on the ground.
7 Boeing 747-430 Custom - $233 million
One of the richest monarchs in the world - the Sultan of Brunei from the island of Borneo - owns the last, customized 747 on this list. The original plane was about $100 million, but the Sultan spent over $130 million more to update its luxurious interior that includes gold detailing all over the plane. The living room, bedroom, and bathroom are all decorated in gold and Lalique crystal, and the washbasins are even made from solid gold. This is another extravagant sky-mansion, and even though the Sultan owns three other wide-body jets, this is his largest.
6 P-8A Poseidon - $290 million
This spruced up plane was developed for the US Navy by Boeing Defense, Space & Security.. It’s a modified version of the 737-800ERX, and it conducts anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, making it one of the best defensive planes on the planet. You don’t want to mess with this thing seeing as that it carries torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and more. The plane is operated to work in tandem with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton, an unmanned, maritime surveillance plane.
5 C-17A Globemaster III - $328 million
This Boeing plane was developed for the US Air Force, and it is one of their largest military transport aircrafts. The C-17A is used for strategic and tactical airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo, medical evacuation, and airdrops. It’s also known for going through development difficulties in early 1993, during several testing phases. McDonnell Douglas, the contractor responsible for the design, worked under the Department of Defense and incurred a loss of nearly $1.5 billion on the development phase. McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997, and now the Air Force has between 180 to 210 of these beasts.
4 F-22 Raptor - $350 million
The F-22 Raptor is widely considered the best overall combat plane in the world, and it’s also the most expensive. This single-seat, twin-engine, all-weather stealth tactical fighter was developed for the US Air Force by Lockheed Martin. The production of the plane ended in 2012 after a final procurement of 187 operational aircrafts, due to the high cost, a ban on exports, and the development of the lower costing, more versatile F-35. Still, the F-22 Raptor can shoot down enemy cruise missiles, fly at supersonic speeds for long distances, and can avoid nearly all types of radar detection, making it one of the best fighter planes in the world.
3 Airbus A340-300 Custom - $350-$500 million
This customized Airbus A340-300 is owned by Alisher Usmanov, the richest billionaire in Russia. The plane touts an eye-catching custom paint job with the name “Bourkhan" on its side, honoring Usmanov’s father. It is the largest plane in Russia, even bigger than President Putin’s Ilyushin II-96. The plane itself cost $238 million, but after luxury remodeling it's estimated to be worth between $350 and $500 million, taking the interior decoration and implemented technology into consideration. The jet can carry 375 passengers and fly for 9,000 miles. It makes a great pair to the superyacht that Usmanov owns which he named after his mother, Dilbar.
2 Airbus A380 Custom - $500 million
The most expensive private jet in the world is owned (once again) by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. This ridiculously luxurious aircraft has everything from a two-car garage, a room for the prince’s hawks, a stable, multiple bedrooms, bathrooms with showers, and something that is called a “wellness area.”
The double-decker Airbus 380 is the largest commercial plane flying today, although Prince Al-Waleed has reduced some of that passenger space for the addition of his garage, bedrooms, and other luxury settings. The prince can afford all this as he's the founder of the Kingdom Holding Company, the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup, the second-largest voting shareholder in News Corporation, and is the 26th richest person in the world.
1 B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber - $2.1 billion
The B-2 Spirit is by far the most expensive aircraft ever built. It was so costly that Congress cut its initial purchase order from 132 to 21 in 1987. After a 2008 crash, there are now 20 of these formidable craft under the control of the US Air Force. This strategic bomber features low-stealth technology designed to penetrate anti-aircraft defenses, and is able to employ conventional and nuclear weapons. It can drop up to 80 500-lb-class JDAM GPS guided bombs, or 16 2,400-lb B83 nuclear bombs.
The B-2 has been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost for the aircraft by Northrop Grumman and Boeing averaged $737 million in 1997 dollars, and procurement averaged $929 million per aircraft, which included spare parts, software support, retrofitting, and equipment. That being said, it is also outfitted with lawn chairs for pilots wishing to get a quick nap in, and those only run you about $8 at Home Depot...