Lonely Planet Writer

British holidaymaker is only passenger on flight

It’s the dream flight – to be the only passenger on board when a plane takes off.

Nigel Short had the rare experience of being the only passenger on an Air Zimbabwe flight between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls
Chess  grandmaster Nigel Short had the rare experience of being the only passenger on an Air Zimbabwe flight between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls Image by steenslag / CC BY 2.0

And it came true for a British holidaymaker when he found out he was the sole passenger on an Air Zimbabwe flight between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls.

Nigel Short, who is a professional chess player,  was welcomed on board with a personalized announcement over the Boeings 737 public address system.

Air Zimbabwe flew a plane specially to cater for one passenger
Air Zimbabwe flew a plane specially to cater for one passenger Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY 2.0

Mr Short had over 100 empty seats and was outnumbered by cabin crew on his journey to see the renowned Falls on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

The MailOnline reports that the 50-year-old, originally a native of Lancashire in England, admitted that he felt a little uncomfortable when he discovered he was the only paying customer on the flight.

But he soon settled down as he got personal pre-flight safety demonstration and then was served a meal by two of the flight attendants.

The lone traveller said he was surprised that the flight wasn’t cancelled by the state-run carrier, adding that he couldn’t imagine an airline like Ryanair or any other privately-run company would put on a plane for one person.

Mr Short, who now is based in Greece, had recently won the South African Chess Open and decided to spend some down time visiting the Falls.

He explained that his flight had been booked by the Kasparov Chess Foundation, called after Garry Kasparov, who beat him in the 1993 World Chess Championship final.

As a child prodigy, he became a grandmaster by the time he was 19 before becoming one of the best players in the world.