Happy 50thth Birthday, to the Queen of The Skies…
In February, 1969 – Boeing faced an existential crisis. Their future, and that of the US aviation industry hinged on perhaps the most obscure looking airplane design in modern history. 49 years later, it’s a living legend. The original “Jumbo Jet” was a colossal success, transforming air travel forever, winning the hearts of travelers in the process. It’s the only plane in the skies known as “The Queen” and just yesterday it turned 49. Like all good things, it won’t last forever. Here are two things you must do before it leaves the friendly skies for good.
Ask any frequent flyer about their favorite all time flying experiences and you’ll get two answers: the nose, or the bubble. In each case, they’re referring to experiences unique to the Boeing 747. The bubble means a coveted seat on the Upper Deck. The smaller cabin, due to the curvature of the plane offers an amazing sense of seclusion and privacy. For many airlines, it even once featured a bar or lounge. Ascending these magical steps is a must.
There’s only one plane where passengers have a better view than the pilots. With the cockpit upstairs in the bubble, the nose of the plane sits further in front, with a virtually forward facing view. Seats 1A and 1K are quite literally in the nose compartment and are generally considered the most exclusive First Class seats on earth. You can see the runway, just like the pilots. British Airways, Korean, Thai and Lufthansa offer the last remaining chances to experience first class 1A or 1K for yourself.
No one likes bad news during a birthday, but this has been a long time coming. US airlines have retired all of their 747 aircraft permanently. The only major airlines still utilizing the gorgeous jets for passenger flights are Korean, British Airways, KLM, Qantas, Thai, Lufthansa, Air India, El Al, Asiana, Virgin Atlantic, KLM and Air China. With no future passenger jet orders on the table, the plane will be largely retired in early 2020’s. PanAm introduced the jet to the world in 1970, with their iconic livery.
Will a more instantly recognizable, and arguably more beautiful airplane ever fly? We think not. Bottom line: treasure the time left with the Queen. If you have yet to experience a bubble or nose flight, put the best flight deals and points tricks to use to lock in one of these experiences, before they become legends of frequent flyer past.
There are a number of additional 747 commercial operators too — Lufthansa, Air India, Saudia immediately come to mind.
I flew in the nose to London and the bubble back. While not as high end as some other flights, it was special for sure.
I found the Bubble to feel more exclusive due to the small number of people up there.
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