Next life airplane trolleys
Updated: Mar 27
Travel restrictions have led to many airplanes remaining on the ground, of which some of them will never take off anymore. Many airlines park their planes at an “airplane graveyard” which is normally located in a desert, for example, in the deserts of US California or Arizona and/or Spain. The desert provides the best conditions for metal parts to be protected from moisture and, hence, environmental corrosion attack. A big share of the planes though is only waiting to be dismantled and their parts recycled. Yet, not only the aircraft fuselage, with all the outside appurtenances, but also many indoor items like seating chairs or the well-known airplane trolleys can experience a next life.
An idea is born
It all began about 17 years ago when Stephan Bolz and Valentin Hartmann started a process of refurbishing items from public life to functionable furniture. Old cinema chairs changed to two-seater benches, medicine cabinets from hospitals turned into practical storage spaces in bathrooms. After an extended research period, 32 airplane trolleys were purchased from a scrap dealer by the two entrepreneurs and founders of bordbar. These two creative minds realised quickly that these practical trolleys opened up so many application possibilities. They developed equipment as demanded by their customers.
One day, Thomas Klugt from byThom and the founders of bordbar met at a consumer goods fair in Cologne, Germany. Thomas was so fascinated by the timeless industrial design and the endless possibilities these trolleys offered that he decided to offer these as his core product in his store in Vienna. Until today, it is the unique and only flagship store of bordbar worldwide.
byThom in Vienna is the unique
and only flagshipstore of bordbar
From where are the used airplane trolleys procured today?
In the meantime, a reliable network has been established and the used trolleys are collected from all over the world. The conservation status of the procured trolleys can be very diverse depending on the airline company. Of course, here certain quality criteria such as functionality and optical appearance come into play to ensure that the „basic material“ is suitable for its future transformation. The reason why airlines sell their trolleys might be because they buy a new and modified design line or because they change to lighter versions in order to save fuel and to become more environmentally friendly.
Are sustainability aspects being considered during the design process?
bordbar and byThom focus on regional supply. A majority of their suppliers can be easily reached by bike, if necessary. That´s how close in proximity they are.
The design process looks at using recycled material, whenever possible, but the main sustainability aspect is next life, as the airplane trolleys shall last for many years, ideally for many generations to come. The functional and well-designed airplane trolleys have also received external recognition, for example in 2013/14 they have been awarded with the Green Product Award.
How old are the refurbished airplane trolleys?
This very much depends on their use frequency. Some of the oldest models that have been refurbished were more than 25 years old.
bordbar JU52 with window and cutting board
Where and how does the transformation of these used trolleys happen?
The redesign of the used trolleys takes place in a manufacture of bordbar in Cologne, Germany. Leaving the development and design processes aside, which also take quite some time, you still need to allow ten to fifteen hours to manually remanufacture and transform the airplane trolley to the new design concept, depending on the model.
Each trolley is made by hand
The worn areas of the aluminum frame are polished by hand and then riveted to shiny metal sheets. Some 500 rivets are set in the previously punched boreholes. The main materials being used are aluminum and shiny stainless steel. Additional materials are plastic, here polypropylene, or glass, when useful. And if you are asking yourself, what kind of wood you see in some of the pictures, then you might be surprised that this is not wood but grass. Bamboo is a grass which is renewable every four to six years. It grows without any external support and not like wood, it reproduces itself after cutting.
Where can I purchase one of these very special airplane trolleys for my private home or business?
Whereever you live, you can simply order one of these very special airplane trolleys via bythom.at (The online shop will be open shortly!) as they are shipped worldwide and perhaps this will really be their last flight, a flight into its next life. They are almost indestructible and last for many generations in private use. And should you decide one day to add a new function to your trolley, then call Thomas and he will have some good ideas for you for sure.
What is also interesting to know is that you can also rent one of these airplane trolleys which is a wonderful idea when you plan a unique indoor or outdoor party or get together. So have a look at these incredible designs. I personally have difficulties deciding on which one I like the most. There are just soooo… many beautiful pieces available.
Should you live in Vienna or visit there one day, then I invite you to look up the flagship store of Thomas in the second district, 1020 Vienna, Haidgasse 5. He will be happy to show you around and, if needed, design a special model just for you personally.
Thomas Klugt, owner of byThom with some special airplane trolley models