Plenty of oversized seating is just one of the advantages the New England Patriots enjoy as the only squad in the National Football League to have their own team jet. They also don’t have to worry about having their equipment sent to the wrong airport and risk forfeiting a game (which nearly happened to the Kansas City Chiefs last month). And they can quarantine sick members of the team on a separate flight to a road game (as the Patriots recently did when the flu swept through their locker room before the team played the Texans in Houston).
Whether in the air over Providence or parked on the tarmac at T.F. Green International Airport, the Pats’ plane is an instantly recognizable symbol of local pride for Rhode Island football fans. Dressed in red, white, and blue livery, the highly customized 767-300 jet is emblazoned with “Patriots” and “6X” (referring to the team’s six championships) in huge letters on the fuselage, with an equal number of Super Bowl trophies depicted on the tail.
Inside, the 205-seat aircraft is a far cry from flying commercial. Two sections of the cabin are fitted with oversized custom seats, designed to transport even the burliest of linemen in comfort (the bathrooms onboard are supersized, too). Support staff and other guests generally sit toward the front of the plane, with players given their own special section in the back (although coach Bill Belichick likes to sit with the players). Each leather-clad seat is inscribed with an individual player’s name and the team’s “flying Elvis” logo. Eight flight attendants are onboard for every trip, offering white-glove meal service with menus designed by team dietitians. Everything from vegan meals to ice cream is available — but there’s no alcohol served, not even on flights home after a team victory.
Rather than an airborne version of the locker room, the atmosphere onboard is generally subdued, with coaches reviewing film, players locked into the entertainment systems, and trainers providing treatment to players banged up after games. Between the privacy, comfort, shortened flight times, and onboard care, the Patriots plane is not just a symbol of success — it’s one more way the most successful franchise in sports gives its players every available edge over opponents, on and off the field.