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This Man Spent $5 Million To Turn An Actual Boeing 737 Into A Restaurant

"Here we will completely subvert the onboard dining experience."

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Lily Airways opened to the public earlier this month with France- and US-themed courses in Wuhan, a central China megacity of 20 million.

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Menu prices vary from $25 to $60, and the 20 dinner tables inside the converted cabin can host up to 200 guests per day. To keep the airline vibe, overhead bins are conveniently used to keep guests' personal belongings and staff are dressed in flight attendant uniforms. Nothing has been dramatically changed except for the seating, apparently, to be much, much more humane and easier on the knees.

"Flying is uncomfortable because not everybody gets to fly in business class," said Li Lang, the mastermind behind the $5 million investment. "Here we will completely subvert the onboard dining experience," Li told BuzzFeed News in a telephone interview.

Foodies lucky enough to cut the long line will get the full flying experience — without the actual flight. Everyone gets a boarding pass, waits in the waiting room, and goes through the gate via a jet bridge onto the airplane.

Courtesy of Li Lang

Considering the money you pay for the experience, it's kind of a shame you don't actually go anywhere after all that.


Wuhan's Guanggu Pedestrian Area, where the restaurant is located, is a mishmash of European architecture and is said to be able to accommodate 3 million people shopping at the same time.

Instagram: @mi_haka

Such clone towns have sprung up all across China in recent years; the most well-known/notorious are Beijing's Jackson Hole, Guangdong's Austrian Hallstatt, and of course, don't forget the Eiffel Tower in Hangzhou.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do with the airplane at first," said Li, a 40-year-old Chinese nouveau riche. "I just want to buy an airplane."

Courtesy of Li Lang

He said he was later inspired by projects like the airplane hotel in Sweden and never thought about getting his investment back.

Lili Ye, who the airplane restaurant is named after, said, "This gift is the best expression of love for this family from my husband."

Courtesy of Li Lang

After trying ill-fated names like "Fancy," Li decided on "Lily," because it stands for his wife Lili, Li himself, and the flower that symbolizes harmonious love.


The most painful thing for the couple has been the sporadic unimpressed reviews they receive. "Can I say it was expensive and unpalatable?" one user commented on Weibo.

"It's painful for us that the customers don't know how to appreciate" the food, the couple complained. (This is their first and only entry into the food industry.) They insist that they hire foreign chefs to bring the most authentic food to their guests.

Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.

Contact Beimeng Fu at

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