Tech Billionaire Builds “Office In The Sky” On American Airlines Flight, And I’m Here For It

Indian tech billionaire Bhavin Turakhia choose American Airlines first class because of its “swivel seat” on the Boeing 777-300ER for long haul. That lets him set up his “rig” for working inflight with “laptop stand…keyboard, mouse, screen, power bank.” American Airlines endorsed the setup.

The man behind payment processing and buy now, pay later service Zeta wants to boost his productivity inflight, not travel light.

He brings a second computer screen, attaching to his laptop magnetically and connected via USB. Turakhia says it takes him just 30 seconds to get his inflight office set up and he claims a benefit of a 40% producitivty boost on a long haul flight. With this aircraft and seat he doesn’t even need to dismantle the electronic office for meals.

American flies this plane on New York JFK to Delhi; Miami to Sao Paulo; Los Angeles to Sydney; and numerous London Heathrow routes.

When American Airlines introduced its new first class seat in 2012, it was already behind world standard. But it kept one of the most beloved features of its previous seat. The American Airlines Flagship First seat swivels 90 degrees.

  • Passengers in middle seats can turn towards each other.
  • Those in the windows can turn towards the window
  • When you rotate the seats you have a desk. In the window seat that means working while looking out the window. That’s a separate setup from using the tray table for meals.

Some airlines have caviar service, fine wines, on board showers or even rooms featuring a separate seat and bed to distinguish international first class. American Airlines has a swiveling seat. But it’s still pretty cool, and I’ll be sad to see it go when American eliminates its Flagship First product leaving business as their top cabin.

However I find it a little bit strange that this tech entrepreneur, reportedly a billionaire, chooses American Airlines for his long haul tech setup considering their poor inflight internet on widebody aircraft. This Boeing 777-300ER features Panasonic internet which, in American’s implementation, is excruciatingly slow with significant latency when it works at all. That’s in contrast to their domestic narrowbody fleet where Intelsat and ViaSat provide high speed satellite connectivity.

Earlier this year a Delta passenger used the back of the seat of the coach passenger in front of him as a standing desk. You do what you have to do to be productive inflight. But flying first class makes that much better.

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

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. The man seriously needs to get out more. And if the wifi on that bird is so slow, how can he claim to be 40% more productive…

  2. @ Gary — This guy is a paper billionaire heading to zero. If he was so worried about productivity, he would fly private.

  3. While the comments on the Crappasonic wifi are spot on, I buffered my productivity on my recent JFK-DEL and return by loading up beforehand on things to do. Don’t need connectivity to blow through a backlog of 500 emails.

    I think this setup is awesome.

  4. A second keyboard for what …. improved dexterity? An impressive setup but that’s a lot of weight to carry. I don’t believe it takes 30 seconds to unpack, setup, and connect all that stuff.

  5. I’ve worked on flights all my adult life. It may surprise people to learn that much of an executive’s work is done without the need for internet access. It’s far more productive to immerse yourself in a hairy problem that requires analytical thought when you’re not distracted by constant electronic stimuli.

  6. He’s a billionaire. He has access to the secret high-speed global coverage WiFi system that all 1% have access to.

  7. Can do all of this with just your laptop on airlines with a more premium hard product (HDMI input) or with just a laptop and ipad. So much wasted carry-on space with all the other unnecessary items.

  8. Big fan of the travel monitor (though not on the plane, because I usually don’t have room). Now that I travel with one, I can’t imagine doing conference calls without one.

  9. First Class longhaul often has unique benefits but I am satisfied with Business lie Flats and my free WiFi through T-Mobile. I always use two or more devices while flying.

  10. From my perspective, that’s too much junk to carry for in-flight use — especially if frequently having to deal with Indian airport security screening. But if you need all that junk at your destination and want to minimize chances for damage of the items, then carry-on it is.

  11. No way hes doing any real work with that garbage panasonic wifi connection. It can barely load emails as it is let alone websites.

  12. Maybe he’s big into gaming. Seems like the kind of computer gamer set-up I would expect from some kids heavy into gaming whenever and wherever they are.

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