Man Had His Own Private Jet After All American Airlines Passengers Took Other Flights During Delay

Travel the past couple of days has been brutal, with storms and an FAA outage snarling flights. One passenger was forced to endure an 18 hour delay – and was rewarded by an American Airlines flight, operated just for him.

Rampers showed up to load bags – just for him. He was called to board his flight – by name. And the crew did their safety demonstration – just for him. Charlie Stringer had the experience of a lifetime.

@phil.stringer 18-hour delay turned this flight into a private party! ✈️🥳 Watch how the amazing crew and I made the most of it! #americanairlines #flightattendant #airplanetiktok #privateparty #FlightFun #delayedflight #fyp #viral ♬ Makeba – Jain

He jokes at the beginning of the video that he’d purchased every ticket on the plane himself. Then he explains that after an 18 hour delay, everyone else had taken other flights. He was the only one on this original aircraft (though it’s somewhat surprising that no one else moved onto it).

The passenger narrated his amazement and appreciation that the crew were asked to work a flight just for him, “They pulled them from the hotel to come do this flight for just one person.”

That’s not quite correct though. The crew and aircraft certainly needed to be in Charlotte to operate future segments after this one. Although, of course, they could have been deadheaded.

It’s a cool experience when you get super personalized attention – spoiled even – by a flight attendant. And being alone in a plane makes service super personalized almost by definition.

And it’s a great way to make up for a day of delays. Still, you’ve had to go to the airport amidst the crowds and go through TSA checkpoints, which you’ve probably arrived early for. So it doesn’t quite compare to actually flying private or taking JSX from a private terminal.

I’ve flown alone in first class many times, for instance flying Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Paris; Thai Airways from Bangkok to Tokyo; Korean Air from Seoul to Singapore; and ANA from Chicago to Tokyo. But I’ve never had an entire aircraft to myself.

In the late 80s I flew New York to Cincinnati on Delta with just two or three other passengers after a series of delays. And then my January 1, 2000 (“Y2K”) flight on United from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles flight was on board a a near-empty Boeing 777. Everyone else was afraid to fly that day.

Thanks to the reader, who didn’t identify themselves, that texted this to my email.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Very fun! Some advice for everyone: PLEASE clean your phone’s lens before capturing videos/photos! The haze you see in his clips are due to a dirty lens.

  2. I am really surprised that the carrier did hot have any standby passengers waiting? Very inefficient and poor management. They just probably do not care whether the flight will be profited.

  3. I definitely recommend flying private. It’s faster and much more comfortable. Flying commercial these days has been one hassle after another. At the end of the day it’s worth the cost difference.

  4. My closest equivalent –

    March 2003
    Hong Kong to Taipei
    Cathay Pacific 777-300
    During peak SARS

    Seven passengers. Me and my three coworkers in First, three folks in Economy.

  5. They had to move the plane and crew anyway. They didn’t get dinged with a cancelation in DOT-reportable stats. In theory they could have used the flight to accommodate others (but didn’t end up necessary). They got some free media exposure in a fun/positive light. I don’t often say this, but I would say this is a win for American.

  6. I flew on a Northwest Airlink flight where I was the only passenger. The flight was not delayed. It was around 5 pm going to DTW.

    I was on a NW airlines DC-9-30 with 8 other passengers. It was not a delayed flight.

  7. Like they used to say about NWA, especially after inherting the old North Central/Southern DC9’s from Republic…”if you see a red tail…take the rail”…

    Although, my fave planes back in the day were NWA’s 757-251’s and DC10-40’s – when I was often shuffled/shlepped between LGA and the Twin Cities.

    Somehow, Northwest Orient was always able to get their planes dispatched without cancellations, even when snow was up to your eyeballs in the Twin Cities and I had to be back for school in New York the next day…


  8. Don’t remember the equipment. Two of us DTWPHL on NW. Back in early 70s. Also me and one other in business LHRORD on a UA 767 during early covid.

  9. My father told me many years ago he was alone once on a flight from TLV to ORY on Dec. 31st.
    There were weather issues in Paris so they redirected the flight to Lyon LYS since there were no other passengers there was no reason to challenge the weather.
    They paid him a train ticket to Paris but by then it was Jan. 1st and the train was packed with drunks 🙁

  10. I did many flights through Europe to DXB the last few years while Europe and America were on lockdown. I did not enjoy it. I felt like I was stuck in a horror film, where all the felllow passengers have disappeared. I desparately had to talk to flight crew just to keep my mind sane. One KLM flight staffer told me that she hoped that the aircraft carried a lot of freight in the luggage hold to make the flight worthwhile.

    I never thought to monetize my solitary horror as a tiktok drama.

  11. In late November 1999, the week after Thanksgiving, I flew from Washington National Airport to San Diego with a connection in Chicago. The trip was for a funeral. The A320 from National to O’Hare was fairly full, but the 757 from Chicago to San Diego was practically empty: only four of us in coach. I boarded and sat in my coach seat and said to the attendant, “I must be one of the first to board.” “No, you’re the LAST to board.” I asked if United was making any money from this. She replied that the belly was full of cargo and mail and that alone was profitable, plus the equipment was needed in San Diego for a sold-out morning departure back to Chicago. We could not be moved forward because of weight and balance issues, but the flight attendant made sure we had sufficient food and drink. I was suffering from a bad cold or something and felt miserable but that flight made me feel a lot better.

    Another time in 1979 I was returning from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Only $7 to upgrade to first class. I did. Only passenger there. Four gin and tonics later (from a very nice FA) we landed on rwy 28L and my fiancee picked me up and we went out for pizza and beer. Nice.

  12. Flew first class from Beijing to Houston on China Airlines using miles. My wife and i were only passengers in very nice first class cabin on new plane, we each had our own cubicle, personal flight attendant and bathroom. Funny thing is my wife wanted to try and come back day early and we would have had to pay to be full biz class on United.

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