Sunday, July 31, 2011

Come Fly with Me...

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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.
When the Boeing 747 first came into service in the late 1960’s early 1970’s most airlines reserved the upper deck for the exclusive domain of their First Class passengers. No rows of seats here, but plush lounges and bars where you could relax in comfort whiling away those long flight hours.
Accessed by the familiar spiral staircase from the main deck, economy class passengers could only cast an envious eye upwards in the hope that they might be able to catch a glimpse of these sumptuous lounges.
Airlines usually chose to decorate their lounges using themes of their home countries, so before we arrived at our final destination we had a taste of things to come.
Qantas chose to decorate their lounges,with a somewhat colonial 
theme using Captain Cook as inspiration.
Air India and Iran Air chose local themes with a modern twist and lots 
of 70’s panache, so you didn’t even feel like you were on a plane.
Aerolineas Argentinas chose quite a masculine vibe, maybe to get us in the mood for some of the machismo we might face in Argentina. But Delta turned the upper deck into the “world’s first flying Penthouse,” which could be sold as a unit to a group travelling together.
Along with the real estate them that was inspiring Delta to call their lounges Penthouses, Braniff chose to give theirs an address.  

Pan Am envisaged a restaurant style setting with individual tables that could
be booked for a more pleasurable dining experience.

So next time you are sitting in Row 55 up the back of economy class, 
know that it wasn't always this way!

Even further back in time was the era of the prop driven Lockheed Super Constellations. They too had their posh enclaves for the elite to spend the hours while on their way to some exotic destination. From damask tablecloths to china, silverware and crystal, no luxury was spared. Flying high in First Class was proof you were at the top of the heap. 

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.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliners new interior will create a new sensation for passengers inside the cabin. Innovations such as those shown here are sweeping arches, wide aisles, larger lavatories, and dynamic lighting. All these innovations are being considered with the goal to connect the passenger with the flying experience. (Neg#: K64262-02)
Image via Boeing

Update - November 20, 2011

The Glory Days of Pan Am 

Sky high

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
(Keystone/Getty Images)

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 city

The 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 

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Spooooky Reading...

Buy it here 

Evil Little Stories: A Collection

What lies beneath...

I'm sorry, but this looks more like 

economy to me!

...Well, except for the leg room.

1 comment:

  1. Boy, look at a Business or First Class today. They are a way more comfortable than in the 60s, 70s!