How The Boeing 747 Revolutionised Air Travel

The Boeing 747 is one of the most iconic of aircraft in the world. With over 50 years since its first flight, the jumbo jet has gained a significant fan following amongst aviation geeks and passengers alike. As a groundbreaking marvel of engineering, the aircraft has an incredibly rich history. Now, we are going to take a look at the aircraft’s impact on air travel.

747
The 747 has had an amazing history. Photo: Boeing

Space

The 747 was well-known for the amount of space on board the aircraft. As the largest jet by passenger capacity at the time of its launch, the aircraft still offered room to move around and stretch about.

Space
On the 747, space and comfort were not much of an issue. Photo: Boeing

As you can see from the above image, the 747 marked a time in flying when it was all about the experience. People would dress up to take flight and the 747 promised an incredible experience. As nowadays premium classes become more focused on suite-style intimacy over a more social experience, the 747 harkens back to a time that some refer to as the “golden age” of aviation. Although, even in this day and age, flying in the nose of a 747 can be quite a treat.

The expansion of travel

Thanks to the sheer size of the 737, travel suddenly became an option for many more people. The great capacity of the 747, per a CNN report, cut the cost of transporting a passenger in half. Suddenly, pricing became more attractive and more people could fly.

Ever since the early days of the 747, passenger numbers have only grown. The 747 made for an efficient people-mover between major cities and hubs across the globe. On routes to the Pacific or to Europe, the 747 could be found at plenty of major airports.

747
The launch of the 747 made traveling a more accessible experience for many. Photo: Boeing

Unfortunately, now, the 747s are slowly on their way out, as point-to-point methods of travel and frequency over capacity continue as hot trends in the aviation world. The 747 is starting to see its retirement approaching across airlines like KLM, Qantas, and others.

British Airways 747
British Airways’ 747s are on their way out. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The global nature of airlines

On the airline front, the 747 allowed for airlines to have a much more global footprint. Pan Am, in particular, was iconic for flying their 747s to new and far-reaching destinations. And, due to the four engines, the aircraft was more reliable. At the time, twin-engine aircraft were not allowed to cross the Atlantic.

Pan Am
Pan Am is well-known for their 747 aircraft. Photo: Aldo Bidini via Wikimedia

Moreover, the 747 was so successful that Boeing continued to build different variants. From the first 747-100, to the -200, -300, -SP, -400, and -8 variants, plenty of airlines have seen multiple 747 types in their fleets.

Northwest 747
Northwest Airlines flew the first Boeing 747-400. Photo: Paul Spijkers via Wikimedia

The next frontier in aviation

The 747 arguably led to the next big frontiers in aviation. However, as airlines seek to move beyond the foundations set up by the 747 to new and improved aircraft like the 777X, it is clear that the legacy of the aircraft will endure for many years to come.

The 747 revolutionized travel in more ways than one. Plenty of aviation geeks and happy travelers likely have fond memories of these aircraft. Here at Simple Flying, we would like to know, how has the 747 impacted you? What are your favorite memories of the aircraft? Let us know in the comments!

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William Mackenzie

She will always be the Queen of the skies to me.

Caduta Massi

@Simple Flying
Would it be possible to build twin-engine versions of the B747 or A380 that would be more fuel efficient.

Joanna Bailey

I think even if they could it would not be appealing as both planes are just too big for modern airline requirements. Contemporary route planning demands more frequency and point to point services – the 787 and A350 are much more suited to current trends.

KPB

Boeing essentially did with the 777. Sure, it is not a two deck passenger compartment like the 747 but the passenger and cargo capacity are pretty close.

Lai Hong Yi

My first international flight was in a 747. 😊

JohnSD23

QANTAS first class seats 1A and 3A were my 2 favorites – you could see what was coming your way when looking through the forwardmost set of windows from either of these seats. There was also something about the sound of the forward landing gear being raised and you heard the thump as the doors closed, and the cabin got quiet very quickly. When you felt some turbulence, it was never rough. I can’t imagine any other aircraft that I’ll ever enjoy as much – the A380 is excellent, but it almost doesn’t seem like you are flying. The 747… Read more »

R Massey

Pretty much every major travel milestone in my life was in a 747. The first international flight I ever took was in a Singapore Airlines 747-400. 7 years later, I would emigrate for the first time to the UK, again on a Singapore 744. And then after another 10 years, when I emigrated to Canada, it was on a Lufthansa 747-8. The Queen will always have a special place in my heart

john

They should create a Double-decker but with 2 engines rather than 4 and use the GE9 engines from the 777X to do so…