• egsharod

What the 747 means to me...

It's weird, it's strange, but I'm also not surprised about how I feel... I'm writing this about 12 hours after British Airways announced, that with immediate effect, they are to retire their fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft...

We knew that we were in the twilight of the 747's life - with perhaps 3 or 4 more years left of them dominating the Heathrow landscape, and providing that sense of adventure as they flew majestically through the air. But COVID-19 claims yet another victim in the aviation industry...

We've already seen KLM and Virgin Atlantic retire their fleets, but there was still a sense that British Airways would find a way to keep their flagship aircraft around for a while longer.

It was just last year, 2019, that excitement grew in the Avgeek community, when British Airways celebrated 100 years, and commemorated that by painting 4 x aircraft in retro liveries, one A319, and 3 x 747's....

We had the Negus, BOAC and Landor liveries bringing some excitement to Heathrow and all around the world... there was a real feel-good factor about this. Now, with everything happening at BA with regards to their employees - the feel-good factor has very much dissipated.

For me, and like many others around the world, the 747 was the plane that got us hooked, and inspired people from all walks of life. The 747 made me fall in love with aviation.

I've had the honour of flying aboard the 747 many times, most often from Johannesburg to London and back, with Virgin Atlantic. The other airlines I've flown the Queen with are British Airways, Air France and Cathay Pacific.

And like any good Avgeek out there, the cherry on top was flying upstairs - the closes many will get to flying on a private jet.

There is something magical about climbing the spiral staircase (more often a straight set of steps), and settling into the cocoon for a few hours. It made you feel special, and more often than not, you were left feeling that the flight wasn't long enough...

British Airways had 20 x seats of their Club World product upstairs, and seat 64K was one of the most desired business class seats in the sky. The yin-yang business class seat that British Airways lead the way with, but has since fallen behind competitors business class offerings, made the upstairs of a 747 feel special - and I've been lucky to fly upstairs with BA on about 4 occasions.

So here I am, getting all nostalgic about what many will view as a machine, a piece of metal or 'just another place' - but the 747, and in particular the British Airways 747, will always be in my heart as an absolute icon - and something I will miss seeing daily as I drive to my office near Heathrow.


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