A St. Anne’s project manager was definitely a VIP guest when he arrived at the airport gate and discovered he was the ONLY passenger boarding his Jet2 flight. And with three attentive cabin crew on hand to look after him on the three hour flight, he was treated like he was travelling on his own private jet.
65-year-old dad, Paul Wilkinson, was flying from Faro, Portugal to meet his family in Belfast on Thursday 30th March – but he started panicking when he got to his gate as there was no queue in sight. He asked the airport staff if his £130 Jet2 flight had been delayed or cancelled. To his surprise, he was told that he was their VIP guest as he would be the only passenger on board. He then travelled to the plane on a double shuttle bus all by himself and had his pick of the seats on the flight.
Paul says he was truly treated like royalty by the cabin crew who called him King Paul while he stretched out on the front row. He even had a chat with the captain before take-off.
Paul said, ‘It was like being on my own private jet. Someone told me a private jet is in the region of £28,000 and it’ll probably never happen again. There was no one at the gate which I thought was strange. I spoke to the stewards waiting to take the passports and they said ‘oh Mr Paul, you’re VIP today. You’re flying on your own’.
‘I thought they were having a laugh. I thought I was early or late. I kept thinking they were going to say my flight had been cancelled. All of a sudden, they said my bus would be along in five minutes. I thought it was surreal.’
‘I expected a massive amount of people to come running but they didn’t. The bus turned up and I got on a double shuttle on my own, just the driver and me. It just didn’t seem right. I thought any minute they were going to say it was cancelled and there’d been a massive mix up.’
‘The cabin crew were smiling, they kept calling me King Paul. I asked if they were joking but they said I had the plane all to myself, I could do what I want, ask for what I want. The service was second to none. They did a one-on-one safety demonstration; we took photographs and the captain came out and had a chat with me. I jokingly asked for a refund on my seat, which I paid for. It was just surreal. I went for a walk around the plane, I had a pick of the toilets.’
Paul had left a golfing holiday in Portugal early to meet his wife Deborah, 52, who was travelling from Manchester, in Belfast for a funeral. Paul said: ‘The wife said she was cramped up on another flight and I was on my own private jet. I think it was a total one off. They’d taken holidaymakers to Portugal and there was no one to come back and it was pure luck that I needed to go to Belfast.’
‘At passport control they couldn’t believe I was the only one coming off the plane, three of them did my passport, one checked and one stamped, it was all in good spirit.” Paul added: “My suitcase came round on its own because I was the only one in baggage reclaim.’
A Jet2 spokesperson said: ‘We are delighted that Mr Wilkinson was able to experience our award-winning customer service in true VIP style. Our outbound flight to Faro from Belfast International was particularly busy with lots of happy holidaymakers heading off to the Portuguese sunshine.’