In 2019, the Boston Red Sox embarked on a lavish journey to London in preparation for their highly anticipated series against the New York Yankees in a special, two-game series. Familiar with private flights, the Red Sox took their travel standards up a notch by opting for the Crystal Skye, a Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner wide-body jet operated by Crystal AirCruises.
London Series background
The weekend unfolded with the Yankees leading the AL East and the Red Sox securing the third spot, battling it out at West Ham United's home ground. The event was sponsored by Mitel, and was branded as “Mitel & MLB Present London Series.” Notably, this series marked the inaugural Major League Baseball (MLB) games played in Europe. Additionally, through their parent company Fenway Sports Group, the Red Sox share ownership with Premier League club, Liverpool F.C.
The games took place between June 29–30, 2019, and the Red Sox assumed the role of the "home" team for both games. Towards the end of June, Major League Baseball (MLB) disclosed that for the series, each team would be permitted to field 26 active players on their rosters, one more than the usual MLB allowance. Additionally, both teams received clearance to have 28 players accompany them to London, ensuring flexibility in case a roster adjustment became necessary due to reasons such as injuries.
Getting a professional team across the pond
While conventional air carriers like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta were viable options for the transatlantic voyage from Boston, the Red Sox opted for a more extravagant approach.
The team reportedly shelled out some $500,000 for the transatlantic flight, but a peek inside the aircraft makes it clear that the flight was undoubtedly a luxury experience. The aircraft featured lavish amenities including a fully stocked bar and premium seating for up to 88 passengers. Visuals from the journey showed that the Red Sox players appeared to thoroughly enjoy their time aboard the extravagant aircraft
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The airplane itself boasted an extensive bar, a dining area adorned with tables and sofas, and a passenger compartment equipped with 88 seats, each capable of transforming into a 70.5 inch, fully lie-flat bed.
Entertainment options abounded. Each seat included an individual 24-inch touchscreen display, while at the front, a spacious lounge provided an ideal environment for socializing and enjoying drinks. The centerpiece of the lounge was a generously stocked bar, flanked by an array of dining tables. The entrance to the passenger cabin was positioned toward the rear of this lounge space.
Rather than typical flight attendants, passengers enjoyed what the charter company says are dedicated butlers, along with the presence of an executive chef, promising a dining experience of Michelin-star quality.
The aircraft itself was a Boeing 777-200LR that was powered by two robust GE90 turbofan engines, enabling nonstop flights that can span up to nearly 9,500 miles.
Manchester United chartered a similar flight, also aboard a Boeing 777 that was operated by Crystal, for its match in Australia against Perth Glory in 2019.
What other instances of sports teams chartering exceptionally luxurious travel should we know about? Let us know in the comments below.