Back in 2006, Oscar Diös heard there was a dead Boeing 747-200 built in 1976 on one of the runways at Arlanda Airport, the largest international airport in Sweden, north of Stockholm. It was once owned by a Swedish company called Transjet, who used it to fly muslim pilgrims to Mecca, as well as doing charter flights around the world until it was grounded for "organisational problems" in 2002. The noble Jumbo was in a bad state, but Oscar saw the possibilities right away. Probably after way too many glasses of akvavit that day, Diös thought he had the perfect idea: to buy the 747 and convert it into a low-cost hotel.
I was getting ready to expand my hostel business in 2006 when I heard about an old wreck of an aircraft for sale at Arlanda. Since I had for a long time wanted to establish my business at Arlanda I didn't hesitate for a second when this opportunity struck.
The connection doesn't seem too logical. In fact, it may even seem crazy to most, but it is not. After all, Oscar is the modest owner of the hostel Uppsala Vandrarhem och Hotell, in Uppsala, so he must know how expensive is to actually find a terrain near a busy airport like Arlanda, then actually build an entire hotel from scratch.
That's why, when he learnt about the dead Jumbo, Oscar only saw cheap space for rooms and decided it was time to continue his inexpensive hotel business right next to Arlanda. He thought that, being the busiest, largest international airport in his country, there was going to lots of clients looking for cheap accommodation.
However, from buying the aeroplane to setting up the hostel there was a long way to go. First he needed to get the OK from the authorities of Sigtuna, which is the town that controls the terrains in which the Arlanda Airport is based. He had the perfect pitch for them: it was going to be a unique landmark, he thought. He wanted to place it right at the entrance of the airport itself, on top of a concrete foundation with the landing gear tied to two steel cradles. The authorities heard the story and, surprisingly enough, agreed to the plan and granted him permission to set it up.
The hotel itself was also a challenge. It wasn't going to be as easy as to install a few beds, and start selling curry kyckling macka, small beer cans, lousy pot coffee, and peanut bags at the plane second level cafeteria. The Boeing 747-200 interior—with 450 seats—needed to be completely dismantled and sanitised. Then, it needed to be insulated, divided into 25 rooms (each of them 6 square meters, with 3 meters to ceiling), and completely rewired. It also needed new plumbing, bathrooms, sanitation, and a new climate control system, since the windows on planes are fixed and can't be opened. And to finish it all, the whole result had to adhere to the strict construction policies of Sweden.
At the end, and after a two year odyssey, he did it: the Jumbo Hostel—as Oscar called his creation—has been towed to its final destination, and bookings will start in December. All in the name of inexpensive accommodation, pilots and stewardesses sex fantasies, and crazy Swedish landmarks. Pass the akvavit Oscar, next time I go to that part of the world, I'll be checking in. [Jumbo Hostel via Random Good Stuff]