Jumbo Jets: New Travel Era

September 10, 1969

Report Outline
Advent of Jumbo Jet Air Transports
Impact of Jumbo Jets on Air Travel
Problems Raised by the New Planes
Special Focus

Advent of Jumbo Jet Air Transports

Approach of B-747's First Commercial Flight

Advent of the B-747, the Boeing Co.'s new “jumbo jet” air transport, will mark the beginning of a new era in air travel. The mammoth plane, fitted out to carry 362 passengers in a roomy seating plan, is scheduled to take off Dec. 15 on its first commercial flight, New York-London-Frankfurt, bearing the insignia of Pan American World Airways. A B-747, the fourth off the assembly line, has already made an Atlantic crossing. It was exhibited at this year's Paris International Air Show, May 30–June 8, where, together with the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde, it was a major attraction. More momentous will be the B-747's maiden flight in service; the social and economic consequences of that event are expected to surpass those that followed the debut of the jet transport in regular transatlantic service 11 years ago.

The B-747 will be the biggest and widest plane ever to enter civilian service. Airlines that wish to make full use of its capacious interior may seat up to 490 persons by using a 10-abreast seating plan. Pan American preferred a more spacious outfitting: its first jumbos will seat 58 first-class passengers in individual swivel chairs and 304 economy-fare passengers in nine-abreast rows divided into two-, three-and four-seater units by two aisles running lengthwise of the plane. In addition, there will be a lounge with walk-around room and chair-and-sofa seating for 18 passengers at a time.

Flatter and higher ceilings, straighter walls, and partitions between several large but separate groups of passenger seats will make for a distinct break from the long tubular effect of the interior of today's jet transports. Pan Am describes the 19½-foot-wide passenger compartments of its 747 as resembling a living room or a small theater; the latter effect is to be enhanced by installation of a relatively large movie screen in each grouping of seats.

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