back to article From 'Queen of the Skies' to Queen of the Scrapheap: British Airways chops 747 fleet as folk stay at home

British Airways has revealed that it probably won't be flying the Boeing 747 anymore. The only flights its remaining fleet of 747-400 plane will be making will likely be to the dismantlers. It's a sad but inevitable end for the aircraft's service at the UK airline. Retirement had been beckoning for a while, and the dramatic …

  1. GlenP Silver badge

    Once...

    I got to sit upstairs in a 747.

    Flying back from Detroit I checked in early due to the availability of a lift to the airport for a BA flight. Unfortunately the project budget didn't run to Business Class (even though we were entitled to it under Company rules) but BA had a couple of 747s with Cattle Class upstairs. Being early and looking fairly respectable I was offered a seat up there. It was cosy but they only allocated 2 of the 3-across seats and we had our own very attentive steward. The only downside was whenever anyone went to the facilities they had to brush past the pull-down projector screen (Titanic was showing, which dates when this was).

    Crossing the Atlantic every week for several months was sheer hell but I've got a few stories from the experience such as probably travelling on the fastest every DC-10.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Once...

      When I became an old bloated plutocrat I always tried to travel upstairs. Some aircraft had a bar up there...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: Once...

        I got offered cheap upstairs seats the last time I flew. I was very excited, until they started strapping me to the roof of the aircraft. That’s the last bloody time I fly Ryanair!

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Once...

          A former colleague of mine got very excited when he was told he'd be on the upper deck of a 747. He'd seen all the movies with the cocktail bar and comfy seating, the acres of space and beautiful, glamorous people.

          Imagine his horror when he arrived and discovered they'd ripped all that out and replaced it with standard cattle class seating!

    2. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Once...

      Yes back in 1993 on the way back from San Francisco the BA check in lady asked my brother, Dad and I if we had ever sat upstairs on a 747? Nope!

      So we got put upstairs. Nothing fancy but it was cool to be able to watch the pilots if you leaned into the aisle. Also as it was only 30 or so people it was a bit more relaxed and you got a toilet just for upstairs.

      Was something to remember. The in flight film was King Ralph, not so memorable.

      I also remember on the flight over I walked up to the front of the 747 (club class I guess, it was empty) so I could stand for a few seconds right behind the nose cone right at the front of the plane. I got out before anyone saw me. Though back then people were a bit more relaxed about stuff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Once...

      I flew upstairs virgin premium montego bay to Gatwick the other year.

      This will sound weird but I physically felt I was too high up. Circling London I saw other aircraft circling too and 1 zoomed underneath (I’m sure At a safe distance) our right wing, made me feel sick.

      Vowed never upstairs again.

      West Indies routes seem to get the old tired aircraft from BA & Virgin.

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Once...

      BA was one of the few airlines that did do an Economy class upstairs. I had the pleasure of flying upstairs once from Chicago to Heathrow as a 'refugee' from another airline that was embroiled in its semi-annual 'air traffic controllers on strike' palaver (no guesses who that was), and because I had an unavoidable date with a judge and a courtroom, an overnight hotel room in Chicago courtesy of said airline was not an option.

      Of course, this being BA Economy, the complimentary champagne was to-be-paid-for, thank you very much, which caused a little bit of an upset (hey, if you're used to getting a piccolo along with your dinner, suddenly being asked to pay for your bubbly puts a damper on things). It was cosy upstairs and to be fair to BA, it was generally a good experience, but since BA was suddenly ferrying a *lot* more passengers that evening, every seat was filled and the experience became a little less pleasant when you were constantly asked by your neighbour to move because they had a weak bladder (I assume).

      The other times I've ever flown in the venerable 744 were on the main deck, once in the rear in the old seats that left me with a sore back after 12 hours, and once in World Traveller Plus (premium economy) because the ticket was cheaper (!) in WT+ on the way out to Chicago and WT (economy) back.

    5. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: Once...

      I got an entire row upstairs in BA economy returning from Bombay (that dates it!). I was very glad of the space as I'd missed the previous days flight due to a late internal connection. The plane wasn't even airborne but the gate had closed. Due to my company expenses being tighter than a ducks arse I spent 24 hours in the terminal straight after 15 hours internal travel from outside Calcutta.

      I have no idea what or even if a film was shown.

    6. ElPedro100

      Re: Once...

      It was October 1996 and I was flying to Hong Kong with BA. I arrived at Heathrow airport suited and booted and clutching by business class Ticket. Presenting it at the checkin desk I was told that unfortunately business class was overbooked and would I be prepared to travel economy for a refund of the price difference and £100 compensation. Yes I said (£100 was worth having in those days!) as long as I could still use the business class lounge. No problem.

      Shortly before boarding I was called to the gate. "Sorry sir, we still haven't managed to find a business class seat. Would you like to go first class?". I ended up flying into the old Kai Tak airport upstairs on a 747 drinking a rather agreeable red wine and enjoying the view out of the starboard window. A one off experience never to be repeated. Fond memories of the 747.

    7. ChrisC

      Re: Once...

      My introduction to the 747 experience was exactly 34 years ago today, flying out from London to Hong Kong in the upper deck economy cabin of a Cathay Pacific stretched upper deck model.

      On the one hand, it was an experience like nothing else - the feeling of exclusiveness being sat up there with just a relative handful of fellow passengers rather than being crammed in down the back end with the rest of the peasants, the quality of the inflight service (can't quite remember if this was also my first ever non-charter flight, but it was certainly my first scheduled flight with a more customer-focussed airline than the likes of Britannia or Dan-Air) including the surprise birthday cake they wheeled out for me (hence why I know exactly how long ago it was!), and the utterly bonkers approach and landing at Kai Tak - but on the other hand it meant that every subsequent 747 experience I've had has been measured against that high bar and fallen a bit short.

      Especially the charter 747 that brought us back home from Florida one year which IIRC had been partly converted back into passenger service from a freighter, with only half the cabin filled with seats and basic passenger amenities - ranks up there as one of the least enjoyable flights I've experienced so far. Mind you, the outbound flight on a rather tired 757 wasn't all that much better except in giving me a chance to add another type to my personal checklist of "things I've flown on so far"...

      In more recent years, my long haul flying has largely been handled by the 777, which whilst not having anything like the elegance of the 747 in terms of how it looks from the outside, has been a far nicer beast in which to be a passenger for 12+ hours at a time. So as fond as I am of the big old bird, both from a personal flying experience perspective as well as an appreciation of it from an engineering perspective, it's no surprise that BA are taking this opportunity to retire them a little earlier than planned - they've served the flying public well over the decades, but it's time for them to pass on their Queen of the Skies crown to the next generation.

    8. Joe Gurman

      Re: Once...

      I had the good fortune more than once to fly on Air France between Washington DC's Dulles airport and CdG when the service was on 747-200Ms (iirc) that carried passengers in half of the main deck and cargo in the aft half. Upstairs seating was reserved for nonsmoking coach passengers back in that day. Weekday eastbound flights generally had few such passengers, so a seat up top mean three seats (and two retracting armrests) to stretch out on, and a deep window well (with a pannier for carry-on) just the right size for a pillow. And, of course, Air France meals.

      Those were the days.

  2. WolfFan Silver badge

    BOAC

    BOAC is really Better On A Camel. I once flew BOAC trans-Atlantic. We had to land at Gander, in Newfoundland, part way across.It seems that someone didn’t tighten a fuel tank cap or something similar, and we were losing fuel. And someone else who should have been paying attention didn’t notice until it was too late to turn back. We just barely made it to Gander. On getting back to the UK, there were tales in the newspapers about cracks in wings. Don’t know if the aircraft I was on was one of the cracked but still flying, but it wouldn’t have surprised me.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: BOAC

      Here was me thinking it stood for Boeing Only Airways Corporation

      1. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

        Re: BOAC

        I heard that - at the height of the Profumo scandal - it "Bend Over Again Christine"

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Cracks?

      Are you sure it was a Boeing 747 and not a Rutland Reindeer?

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Cracks?

        There's an FAA advisory dating back to 1986 that mentions cracks... PanAm, TWA and BA are mentioned.

      2. OssianScotland Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Cracks?

        Regrettably I can only upvote you once for the NSN reference - a cracking good book and almost as good a film.

        Have a vBeer instead

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seats from the 1970s, entertainment screens made from potato, cabin cooling systems from before computers on board were a thing, no at seat power, rattly as fuck, so noisy I'd put ear plugs in under my noise-cancellers to try and get some quiet, those ridiculous pull-out-remotes-on-a-string that always break and a fit + finish quality that would make a man afeared for his life when flying.

    BA 747-400s: You will most definitely not be missed.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But you don't fly BA for the modern, clean, well-equipped aircraft.

      You fly it for the nostalgic, 1970s we're a nationalised industry with a union, customer service

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Emirates pricing, Ryanair nickel-and-diming service.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          British Rail customer service

          Unless you complain about broken glass in your drink, then you get the full Stasi service

    2. David Lawton

      I am going to really miss the 747, the First Class cabin feels more private compared to the 777 in First. Yeah the IFE was old, but i was too busy eating and getting drunk or sleeping to have time for that.

    3. David Neil

      Bloody awful

      And I say that as someone who was trapped in a 787 windows seat from Amsterdam to Chicago by two very large German ladies who fell asleep and I couldn't get out.

      Would still rather have that experience that sit in a busted out BA 747

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Bloody awful

        My favourite seat in the cattle class was right in the rear, where they changed from three to two seats. The window seat had ample storage for my carry on, jacket, blanket, pillow... Plus only one person you need to wake up when heading for the bathroom.

        Tbh I really preferred it over the A380, except for the flight in Economy Plus from SFO to FRA. That was nice. Got upgraded, because I was a really very frequent flyer then. Nice wine, food OK, good seats (LH).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bloody awful

          > My favourite seat in the cattle class was right in the rear, where they changed from three to two seats.

          My worst flight ever was when I was seated in the very back row of a 747, in the middle of a block of 5 seats, with no recline.

          It didn't help that we took off from Maputo in the middle of a thunderstorm, and the plane bouncing up and down after every flash and bang was magnified to the max in that part of the plane. Plus I had food poisoning (not from the in-flight food though).

      2. spold Silver badge

        Re: Bloody awful

        I've found the 787 a complete pain in the arse, not teh seats, the fact that cabin crew frequently overide the stupid window dimming thing to make it dark even though it is a daytime flight, what's the point in booking a window seat? Some crew are willing to unlock your window (woo-hoo), I suspect they hope everyone sleeps and stops bugging them for stuff.

        (...and every time I fly one I have the worrying suspicion they are made by the same manufacturer as the Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bloody awful

          On a BA 747 flight to Mumbai early in the morning I looked out over the wing and I noticed that one of the sheets of metal on the surface seemed to be loose at the trailing edge, as if a few rivets had popped out. I drew the attention of the stewardess to it. She went along the aisle getting people to close the shutters, and only then went to the cockpit. Peril-sensitive sunglasses indeed.

          After my return to England I never flew BA again. This might be an overreaction, but I am a professional coward.

          1. RPF

            Re: Bloody awful

            Those are called lift spoilers. Perfectly normal.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: Bloody awful

              Only on landing/takeoff. Should retract in flight.

              1. Mine's a Large One

                Re: Bloody awful

                Unless they're roll spoilers used to assist/replace the ailerons for banking.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Bloody awful

          That is SOP, yes... not so you don't bug them, but rather to get you on to the timezone you're flying to. If you fly north-south/south-north, a day-time flight doesn't always matter, but east-west/west-east it very much does. :-)

      3. keith_w Bronze badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Bloody awful

        This the major reason I am willing to pay for my seat selection - aisle seats only please, I hate being trapped in the center or window seat on any aircraft.

      4. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Bloody awful

        The 787 is known to have a worse cabin passenger experience from the seating perspective than the 747. It's because Boeing offered more narrow seating and everyone of course jumped on that... Thank God the A380 went out of fashion before any 'low cost' carriers got hold of them to cram them to the gills 10-abreast in a single class layout...

        A tip from a frequent flyer: Take the aisle seat in Economy on the 787. In Business or First you'll have a Suite or a nice Club seat, in Economy, you're SOL and better off taking pics through the door port. :-)

  4. Gaius

    It's crazy to think how long the 747 has been in service, especially when compared to the A380.

  5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Won't be missed.

    As for British Airways' other long-haul, four-engined aircraft, the Airbus A380, hope remains that flights might resume for the double-decked monster.

    Why? The BA ones have the most uncomfortable cattle-class seats I've suffered on any modern BA aircraft, worse even than those on the 747 which were old but at least had more than a few mm of padding over a rigid plastic base. Feeling my arse beginning to go numb as we crossed Ireland on the way to SFO did not give me hope for a good flight, no matter how smooth and quiet the aircraft itself was.

    I'd have more hope that the demise of hub & spoke travel, with it's double dose of security theatre and connections that are always too tight or too long, would kill off the need for all those monsters. A point-to-point A350 or 787 is a more comfortable way to fly. Air France had already started to retire their A380s even before the COVID-19 drop in traffic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Won't be missed.

      The 787 to San Jose is great. Especially in Business.

      Seeing a 747 at the gate during the last decade has always been disappointment twinged with mild dread.

  6. frankvw

    Contrary to previous commenters, I've always like the 747. I've spent more time on it as a passenger than on all other aircraft combined (although I haven't flown as much in the past decade as I did prior to that) and for some reason I remember my flights on a 747 as more comfortable. Not sure if it was the way the aircraft handled (it always seemed more... well, stable, somehow, than more recent designs) and the seats never left me quite as wrecked after a 10+ hour flight than what I experienced on Airbuses and the like. I'll miss the 747.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Used to fly UK->LA regularly in the 90s

      Always booked Air New Zealand for their ancient 747s

      No fancy entertainment but they had comfy well spaced seats in peasant class - and served a nice cup of tea with jam scones. God Bless the Empire

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No fancy entertainment but they had comfy well spaced seats in peasant class - and served a nice cup of tea with jam scones. God Bless the Commonwealth FTFY

  7. Steve Foster
    WTF?

    Interesting Wing Arrangement (article image)

    That left-hand wing looks a bit short!

    Someone needs more practice at photoshopping...

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting Wing Arrangement (article image)

      Er, port...

      We just left port, with a cargo of red port wine.

      1. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

        Re: Interesting Wing Arrangement (article image)

        I was taught "Port is not right".

        I think I prefer yours...

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: Interesting Wing Arrangement (article image)

          In English, you can just remember that left, port, and red are shorter than right, starboard, and green.

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: Interesting Wing Arrangement (article image)

            Or remember that terrible lament of every gentleman: "There is no red port left!"

  8. toejam

    Second Life?

    I am curious if these aircraft are going to end up in a boneyard or if a freight carrier will pick them up on the cheap for a conversion. The latter has been a popular option over the past few years, but I have to wonder if the freight folks have had their fill.

    1. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Second Life?

      I think there are so many sitting around they can't give them away.

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Second Life?

      The 747-436's (which are what BA's actually are) are quite old among 747-400s. If one were looking for a conversion airframe, you'd probably look elsewhere (e.g. find a 20 year old one instead of a 30 years).

      Also, there have been freighter conversion programs since about 2000, and _those_ aircraft are now being (or have been) retired, too.

      1. SharkNose

        Re: Second Life?

        Not all of BA's 747s are 30 years old. The last batch were delivered some time in the early or mid 2000s I seem to recall...

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Second Life?

          Not quite.... the last one, msn 28859, registered as G-BYGG, was delivered in April 1999.

    3. druck Silver badge

      Re: Second Life?

      There are so few passengers flying at the moment, it's causing a problem for freight which normally tags along for the ride. Converting a few jumbos to take a full cargo load, is probably cheaper than running normal services with cargo and mostly empty seats.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Second Life?

        Actually no. The Boeing 777 is the best freighter aircraft out there in terms of fuel economy vs tonnage. The newer 777F shifts 8 tons less than the current 747-200 classics out there, and 30 tons less than the 747-8F (the newest, shiniest version of the 747 freighter variant), but guzzles less fuel.

        There are freight operators out there who take conversions, but they cost money and on the old, inefficient RB211s or CF6 engines, it makes more sense to get the 777F because it loads more efficiently.

        :-)

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    So Long!

    I took my first plane trip on a 747 from Chicago (ORD for you aerobuffs) to L.A (LAX) in 1971 on TWA!

    RIP both TWA and 747s

  10. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Concorde

    Concorde wasn't retired because BA's load factors were dropping or maintenance was getting expensive.

    Concorde was retired because Air France's load factors had dropped, and Air France's maintenance costs were problematic.

    Because of the age of the design and the very few aircraft that entered service, spare parts were in short supply from about 1990 or so. In order to keep BA's twice-daily London-New York flights, BA needed at least 3 operational aircraft (one to operate BA001 and BA002, one for BA003/4, one spare), although they usually had 4 in order to support the odd charter and the winter Barbados flights (when they were doing those), which they supported by moving parts around their 7 aircraft.

    New York-Paris was never as busy a route, so Air France only operated one round trip a day (needing one aircraft plus a spare) and did a lot more charter work, which needed another 1+1, but not every day. This was fine until the crash, at which point AF only had 4 aircraft remaining, so they couldn't move parts around as BA was doing.

    And then politics entered the mix: once Air France decided they could no longer support their Concorde operations, they could have sold the aircraft to someone else (Branson publicly offered to buy at least one, but that was probably just grandstanding), and certainly BA was interested in buying parts from the AF fleet if it was going to be grounded. However, grounding the fleet would have pushed costs from Airbus (former Aerospatiale former Sud Aviation) and BAE (former BAC) all onto BA instead of sharing between AF and BA, plus French national pride/ego wasn't keen on the Brits continuing to operate the thing when they weren't (even though... "The E shall stand for England" -- an obscure reference to the naming of the thing). So AF refused to sell their airframes, Airbus pulled the plug on the airworthiness certificate, and the first supersonic age came to a close.

    (Some years later, the USAF bragged that the F-22 could "supercruise" -- fly supersonic without afterburners -- at Mach 1.8. Whoo-de-doo: I've "supercruised" at Mach 2.0 while enjoying a Johnny Walker Blue Label, on G-BOAG and G-BOAF).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Concorde

      There is a podcast with an SR71 pilot where he describes orbiting over Cuba and being asked to change altitude by ATC.

      He pointed out that he was at 60,000ft (IIRC) and asked WTF they thought might be in his way?

      He then saw a concorde go by and thought of all the passengers sitting in their shirt sleeves sipping champagne while he was in a space suit sipping warm water through a straw.

    2. jason 7 Silver badge

      Re: Concorde

      The other main factor that finished it was many of their regular route passengers died in 9/11.

      After that a lot of video conferencing kit was bought and Concorde cannot beat a digital video stream.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Concorde

        No. 9/11 hurt air travel in general, but not Concorde in particular. You'll recall that, following the Air France crash, Concorde's were grounded for modifications to the wing fuel tanks. This started in August 2000 (for BA) and the first return to commercial passenger carrying service after that was not until November 2001.

        And while the 9/11 attacks killed almost 3000 and wounded twice that number, the majority were support staff and mid-level managers rather than the people who could justify Concorde's fares (and of course 9/11 didn't impact the British executives who flew on the service).

        [ Random factoid: the typical Concorde business trip was Concorde LHR-JFK and a 747 JFK-LHR. They had the overnight JFK-LHR flights set up so that, for first class passengers, you'd get to the airport around 6 or 7pm, eat dinner in the terminal, board and sleep for 6 hours, shower and breakfast on arrival and be in the office by 10:30am or so. For LHR-JFK, you arrive at the airport around 8 am or so, and be on Wall Street by (again) 10:30am or so. The JFK-LHR services were great, but it took a whole day -- leave at 9am, arrive at 5pm ]

  11. Elledan Bronze badge

    Hard to say goodbye

    I have only flown on a 747 once, from San Francisco (SFO) to Amsterdam (AMS), but I can still remember seeing that surge of excitement when I saw that 747 parked on the tarmac at the gate in its KLM livery. Then, sitting at a window seat I could look over the right wing and it was immense. The whole flight was super-comfortable, even if the interior looked like it dated back to the early 90s at least. Compared to the A320s and heavens know which other Airbus and Boeing airplanes I have flown on over the years, the 747 was by far my favourite. I wish I could have sat on the top deck at least once.

    Part of me hopes that some of these retired planes will be converted to cargo planes (which is where they still excel today, due to the unobstructed lower deck), but I'm pretty sure that they'll just be scrapped and used for spares for the (many) 747 cargo planes out there.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Hard to say goodbye

      I remember being in the "top deck" on a Japan Air 747 flight to Tokyo in the late 80s - I think they put all of the English speakers up there at that time as I was not flying business class!

      But in recent years I loath flying and it is practically my last-resort means of transport.

  12. TaabuTheCat

    Amazing plane

    I got to fly to/from Mexico City/Orlando in the cockpit of a 747 at the invitation of a KLM check pilot I knew. What an amazing experience. But it was so odd - it was like you were flying the cockpit - like the rest of the plane behind you wasn't even there. One of the landings was manual and one was automatic in crappy weather. Tossup on who did it better. :) Still, what a great experience never to be had again.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Amazing plane

      I did the same in a 727 as a pup -- my dad was the check captain.

      There were only a dozen or so passengers so my dad went into the cabin and explained the pilot was going for his captain's bars and asked if it was OK if they chucked the plane around a bit.

      "Hell yeah" essentially.

      Great memories of, eg, belting along just above the water just off the beach, up the Queensland coast. Must have been a surreal sight for the surfers etc.

  13. tip pc Silver badge

    Many 747 flights, 1 scary flight

    Flew In many BA & Virgin 747’s

    By far the scariest flight was Air India Mumbai to LHR ~2007. It was mainly empty, extremely dated as in it still had what looked like 1970’s decor & the old massive projectors non of which seemed to work. We pulled away from the gate hours late. Stopped at the end of the runway, powered engines up and down ~10 times, engineers onboard lifted access hatches near the stairs and disappeared under the floor, further power ups and downs, pulled off the runway and additional engineers boarded, further power ups and downs, crew seemed happy and the additional engineers got off, pulled to back of runway again, power up down etc, more running downstairs and then hours after we left the gate they kind of decided to just go anyway. The flight was ~20% full but was so hot, I’ve never been in a hotter aircraft, we never seemed to be that high for the duration of the flight, my suspicion being that the air bleed system failed before takeoff and they couldn’t adequately pressurise the thing & over compensated with heat. I was so glad to get home.

  14. SharkNose

    Sadly missed

    I'll miss the 747. Sitting upstairs in one is a far nicer experience than anything you get on an A380 or 787. And the refurbished airframes that were updated a few years ago were certainly no worse than many of BAs 777s.

    Most memorable flight for me was flying into Joburg about 15 years ago in what was already a very very tired airframe. Sitting in the front exit row of premium economy where the carpet was soaking wet because the plumbing to the washroom was leaking! And then, a go around from short finals to land at Joburg because the flaps refused to extend to the full degree required for landing, followed by 30 minutes of flying around the countryside with the crew trying various mild positive and negative G manoeuvres to persuade the flaps to lower, which eventually worked. And a typically apologetic BA Captain telling us the flaps weren't working due to the age of the aircraft!

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Qantas

      Yeah, it was BNE-BNE! ie, took off from and landed at Brisbane.

      Massively oversubscribed, including business class.

      Now THAT's nostalgia/love for the 747.

  16. Mike Richards

    Upstairs

    I finally got to fly in the little upstairs cabin on the 747 last year. Decades after seeing drawings of one in a kiddies' magazine, the spiral staircase had long gone, but just 14 or so seats and excellent service was a nice change from the usual row upon row of seats. A shame BA let their 747s get quite so tatty though - an overnight flight back from Vancouver in 'premium' economy late last year was a wretched experience with what must be some of the most unpleasant seats ever designed, moth-eaten trim and a screen that didn't work - almost put me off these handsome beasts.

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Pretty though

    Always thought it was one of the best looking airliners.

    Beautiful industrial design from the days when the drawing board won out over CFD

    The high cockpit, hump and wind dihedral are amazing

    The A380, for all its efficiency, looks like Airbus hired all the redundant Fiat Multipla designers

    1. anothercynic Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Pretty though

      Ouch! Buuuuurn.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Downstairs, seat 1A?

    I'm not sure this is a reliable recollection (it was 1985) but

    UK -> Boston Logan via Dublin+Shannon, 747, not upstairs but downstairs, seat 1A for some reason reason (quiet Aer Lingus flight?).

    Clear US customs?immigration? in Ireland to avoid the US queues. But the real memorable bit is being in seat 1A, right up the front where the aircraft is actually curved enough that the window view is *forward* as well as sideways.

    Nice (but could it actually have happened)?

  19. AdrianMontagu

    Please can we NOT chop them up but store them in some desert ready for an unexpected use in the future

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