Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Savoir Faire on the Top Deck

While we are on the subject of vintage airliners and long before we were all herded onto planes like cattle, there existed a time when travelling First Class, really meant that you were above everyone else.

One of the most unusual features of the Boeing 747 when it was launched in the late 60’s 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 all too 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.

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 ding experience.
So next time you are sitting in Row 55 up the back of economy class, know that it was not always this way!


  1. Gosh those were the days right- I wish I had that much space. As a kid I flew to Europe on a double deck plane- I think it was British Airways- have not seen a plane with a 'hump'.

  2. Dear David just like now!!!!!!

    a big hug,

  3. and i'm flying next week.
    might as well be in the hull of the titanic.

  4. Sooo interesting! I love how they decorated the lounges to resemble the destination.

  5. These were so glam when I was a kid...


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