The effects of Covid-19 have forced the hands of many airlines to change the way they run their business. As a result we are witnessing a number of them retiring their Superjumbo A380’s – so called, as it is still the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

This is alongside most also having already said goodbye to the iconic Boeing 747 jumbo jet, possibly the world’s most recognisable airliner. As a result we are starting to see a shift away from super size luxury flight. With today announcement that British Airways the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747 is retiring its fleet with immediate effect due to the pandemic travel slump

The era of double decker airliners started with the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser which entered service back in 1949 with Pan Am.

It could carry up to 100 passengers on the main deck plus 14 in the lower deck lounge in a pressurized cabin paving the way for a new age of luxury travel.

On January 1970 Pan Am led the world again as the launch airline for the Boeing 747, the first plane dubbed a “Jumbo Jet”. With a ten-abreast economy seating, it typically accommodated 366 passengers in three travel classes. It also took a couple of designs from the Stratocruiser, including the inclusion of a spiral staircase from the upper to lower deck.

Launch of the 747 Boeing President Bill Allen and Pan Am CEO Juan Trippe (right) celebrate the launch of the Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” in 1968. The longtime friends sealed the deal on selling the airplanes to Pan Am with a handshake while on a fishing trip.

Referred to by many as the “Queen of the Skies” the aircraft was seen as a status symbol for airlines, with the extra space allowing for additional luxuries. Its’ supremacy went unmatched for decades and truly changed the world of aviation. The first real challenger to the 747 didn’t arrive until late 2007 as the Airbus A380 entered service with Singapore Airlines.

Airbus A380 The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger airliner and entered service on 25thOctober 2007 with Singapore Airlines offering more personal space in all classes, accommodating a total of 471 passengers. The cabin features six private Suites and 78 Business Class seats on the upper deck.

This full-length double-deck aircraft has a typical seating capacity of 525 and was designed with a cabin that reduces passenger fatigue and increases quality of life on board, via a higher level of pressurization, lower noise and relaxing ambient lighting. These have since become standard on newer aircraft. The cabin is also highly customizable, and lavish options are available to airlines, including showers, passenger suites with a lounge and cocktail bars.

The Interior of the 747
Boeing connected the upper level of the 747 with the main cabin by a graceful spiral staircase that was based on a similar design from the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

Today these super size aircraft are condemned to history as Airbus announced that it will end production of the double-decker in 2021. COVID-19 has accelerated the plane’s demise as airlines around the world ground their fleets, and some — including Air France — outright retiring the jet.

So, as we say farewell to these giants of the sky that provide passengers with unrivalled comfort and glamour, the likes of which I doubt we will ever see again, we salute them for their innovation and era-defining technology, that brought the feel of a ocean cruise liner to the skies.

he Captain Cook Lounge The Captain Cook lounge on the original Qantas Boeing 747, as the era of the Qantas jumbo jet – which began in 1971.

We are confident in this new normal airlines will still provide luxury to passengers, but without the same space. However, a constant will still be the cherished amenity kit which was first introduced back in the early 50’s by both BOAC and Pan Am.

 

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The end is looming for the Airbus A380, following Airbus’ 2019 announcement that it will end production of the double-decker in 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the plane’s death knell, with airlines around the world grounding their fleets, and some — including Air France — outright retiring the jet.