The Boeing 747 B
Image via GE Reports
On the Top Deck
Let's take a look at the long ago era of "jet setters" - when flying was exciting and glamourous. Unlike today where we are herded onto planes like cattle, there existed a time when travelling First Class, really meant something and you literally were above everyone else.
On February 9, 1969, the first flight of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet was cut short by a minor problem with one of the wing flaps. The test pilots kept their cool, landed the plane safely, and the rest is history. The first commercial wide-body in service, the 747 would propel Boeing well ahead of all other commercial jet makers. One of the most unusual features of the 747 when it was launched was its unusual “hump” on top of the main fuselage. Known as the upper deck, this hump housed the cockpit and also extra passenger accommodation, adding to its behemoth size.
Image Via X-Ray Delta One's Photo Stream
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Today, First Class is still first class but it's all very business-like. It does provide a great deal of space and comfort compared to the cattle car called economy but it lacks the panache of past passenger aircraft. The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is lighter, faster and more fuel efficient than the 747 but something has been lost in the translation. In spite of innovations such as airy, sweeping arches, ergonomic seating and dynamic lighting, the cocktail party ambiance is a thing of the past.
Image via Boeing
Update - November 20, 2011
The Glory Days of Pan Am
Travelling by plane used to mean dressing in your finest and expecting to be swathed in glamour and top-notch service. Chief among the skyways’ gilded carriages was Pan American World Airways, which prided itself on prompt service, pretty stewardesses and arguably the most skilled pilots in commercial flight. Here, a Pan Am Boeing 747 flies over snow-covered mountains in 1970.
The company built a reputation on the skill of its pilots and on the hospitality of its attendants. Lufthansa flight attendants Jutta Kaemmerer and Mascha Junge are served by Pan Am’s Jerry Rand and Gertrude Vasel at the Pan American World Airways stewardess school in Long Island, circa 1960.
(Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)
Pan Am invasion
Pan Am had a high profile in movies and on television, and was equated in many people's minds with the glamour of international travel. The company’s link to popular culture and the fabulous life was cemented when the Beatles disembarked for their 1964 US tour on a Pan Am flight from London to New York City.
(J. Wilds/Getty Images)
Heart of the cityThe Pan Am building and surrounding skyscrapers tower over midtown Manhattan in 1960. When it opened, it was the largest commercial office building in the world. However, in 1992 it was renamed the MetLife Building when the financially troubled airline (reduced to a mere four floors from its original 15) had finally called it quits. (Frederic Lewis/Getty Images)
Feature via The BBC