My United Boeing 747-400 at SFO
I’ve always enjoyed reading stories of AvGeek’s first flights. The particulars vary, but the basic arc is usually the same: three-year-old self spends the entire time glued to the window in a hushed awe as the cornfields of Iowa stroll by four miles below. And lo’: an AvGeek is born.
That wasn’t me. I mean, I liked looking at the airplanes just fine. That was awesome from day one. But actually flying in them? That was another matter.
Two-year-old me hated every last waking moment of my first flight. And, according to my parents, I made sure everyone within earshot knew it. My blood-curdling screams, which I’m told lasted most of the flight between Boston Logan and Minneapolis via Detroit, were endearing enough to encourage many of my fellow fliers on board to pick up and find somewhere—anywhere—else to ride out the two-hour living hell (Editor’s note: Jeremy still reacts similarly today).
It is super sweet to board a Boeing 747-400 from the tarmac. Hold on...it's a long way up. Click for larger.
I have never flown on the upper deck of a Boeing 747. I have flown plenty of times on the lower level, but I have never had the opportunity to climb those stairs (photo) to the upper echelons of air travel.
Well, I still haven’t flown on the upper deck of a 747, but now I have been up in one. I have to admit, it is pretty darn awesome. During my recent trip to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to hang out with United Airlines, I was invited to check out the top deck and cockpit of one of their Boeing 747-400’s that was being set up for a 15 hour flight to Sydney, Australia.
Ah. The upper deck of a Boeing 747-400. Great seats, total exclusivity and an amazing view. Click for larger.
The upper deck is a world of its own. Even though there were only about 30 people (invited guests, United employees and cleaning crew) it was obviously quieter up top. Speaking with a flight attendant she said she loves working the top deck since it has a more laid back atmosphere than the much longer bottom deck. All the seats on this United 747 upper deck were International Business Class — which weren’t too shabby at all. The First Class Suites were all located in the nose section on the bottom deck (photo). Yea, the location isn’t as cool as the upper deck, but those first class seats are crazy-big.
Anyhow, back up top, the seats and service might be pretty slick, but the coolest part is up front… the cockpit. The cockpit isn’t just for flying, there is a lot of room to invite guests and take a nice little nap. Heck, I think it might have had more square footage than my first apartment (ok not really). Part of the cockpit houses a set of bunk beds for pilots (photo) to get some rest. There is also plenty of extra seating for the relief pilots. Flights over 8 hours will require one relief pilot and flights over 12 will require two. So there needs to be plenty of room up front for everyone to be comfortable and well rested.
Heck yes. The best seat in the house! Click for larger.
The Boeing 747 is one of my favorite aircraft. Even though the Airbus A380 might be larger and carry more people, it just doesn’t have the same awesome presence that the Boeing 747 does. I am very excited for Boeing to introduce the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (video), which will allow the Boeing 747 to fly well into the future.
A special thanks for United and their employees for flying me down to LAX to enjoy this and other fun adventures.
* All the photos from my LAX visit with United.
* Time lapse video of new Business/First class seats being installed in a UAL Boeing 747-400
* Video from United 747-400 upper deck of take off from Chicago.
* Photo of United Boeing 747-400 in original Tulip livery in 1989