I am so glad I’ve gotten to fly in this plane on a couple occasions in the last two years. The iconic Boeing 747 with it’s distinctive “hump” was introduced in 1970 and I can remember as a child seeing them at the airport, or in flight, and thinking that I would never be “rich” enough to fly in a “jumbo jet”.
Last year was my first time in one, and I was awed when I first boarded. I mean, the interior of that thing is big. With the 2-4-2 configuration in coach, that’s ten seats across, and a ten foot ceiling rear of the second deck, it’s cavernous.
I was lucky enough to upgrade to KLM’s “Economy Comfort” which is wonderful. In the KLM version, economy comfort is it’s own “cabin” – foreward of coach and rearward of business class. With more legroom and a dedicated flight attendant for the 36 seat area, you can’t beat it.
But the grand old dame is aging. I noticed it most in the entertainment system. Honestly, I didn’t really even notice that until I boarded a Boeing 777 for the last leg of my last trip. See, I had missed my flight the day before in Bucharest, so I ended up on this 777 the next day instead of the 747 I was scheduled to be on.
The 777 is a beautiful plane in it’s own right, and the economy comfort seat I managed to score was just as comfortable as in the 747, but it’s not in it’s own cabin…economy comfort is just the first few rows of the coach cabin in the 777. While it is more comfortable for me with my long legs, it doesn’t “feel” any different. No dedicated attendant either, just first service because of the location in the first few rows.
The entertainment system is where I noticed a real difference. After seeing the offering in the 777, I realized how dated the system in the 747 is. Not a huge deal, but definitely noticeable.
The 777 was smoother, quieter…newer.
But the 747 has je ne sais quoi. I imagine that it’s similar to trying to describe the difference between a classic Bentley and a classic Porsche…both fine, beautiful machines…just different.
I might get another chance to fly in one of these beautiful airplanes, since most things I have read are about United retiring theirs, followed by Delta here in the US. But there are still plenty of these beautiful birds flying people to far flung places around the globe….like Romania (c’mon, I had to tie it in somehow).