Delta Air Lines Once Sold A ‘Flying Penthouse’ On Its Boeing 747s

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When the Boeing 747 was introduced in 1970, airlines were ecstatic about flying with the Queen of the Skies. The jumbo jet allowed for new possibilities, and operators were making the most out of the space on board. To provide an authentic first-class experience, Delta Air Lines launched the “world’s first flying penthouse apartment” on its 747 aircraft.

Delta Air Lines 747
The 747 was a revolutionary model when it was introduced. Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi via Wikimedia Commons

Unique offering

Up to six passengers could fly in this cabin, but all of the tickets had to be purchased under one booking. Nonetheless, Delta did a great job of promoting the suite. According to a brochure, the airline introduced it with the following statement:

“Now, for the first time on any airline…fourteen steps up a spiral staircase, on the upper deck of the largest airliner in the world, your private penthouse is ready for you.”

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Inside the suite was a coffee table with four wide deluxe seats that recline and swivel. There was also a two-place settle placed on a deep carpet, accompanied by soft lighting to set the mood.

747 Penthouse Brochure
An image from the brochure, displaying the layout of the penthouse. Photo: Delta Air Lines

The airline also highlighted the use of stereo sound for passengers to enjoy on the upper deck. Additionally, there was a private lavatory, bar, and galley. If travelers were peckish, they could choose from continental and intercontinental dishes to dine on. The bar was also stacked with champagne on ice, all served by a personal flight attendant.

Delta Air Lines 747 Penthouse
Delta was proud of its luxurious offering. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Other features

The penthouse was available on any 747 route at the time, including trips to Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The airline emphasized how business executives, public figures, and families could make use of the soundproofed cabin. 

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Along with this innovation, the widebody brought a series of other firsts for the operator. Below are three key additions.

  • In 1970, it became Delta’s first plane with a personal audio system for passengers. Seven channels played the likes of the Beatles, Bert Bacharach, and Beethoven.
  • It was the airline’s first aircraft with overhead bins for baggage. These units replaced open racks. 
  • In 1971, the first edition of Sky, Delta’s inflight magazine, featured the 747 on the front cover.
Delta 747 Penthouse
There was plenty of room for movement throughout the upper deck. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Historic aircraft

The 747 was a pioneering aircraft and went on to leave a legacy within the aviation industry. However, it didn’t last so long as part of Delta’s fleet as the airline felt they were too large for its services. From September 1974, the carrier started to trade its units back to Boeing. Subsequently, the last of its five original 747s flew in April 1977.

Nonetheless, the jet type would return to Delta’s fleet following the firm’s merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008. Eventually, the company retired the 747 for the second time in 2017.

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Altogether, the 747 has such a rich history. While airlines continue to let go of the aircraft, it is continuing to become a rare sight to see in the skies. However, millions of passengers will remember what it was like to fly on this legendary jet.

What are your thoughts on Delta’s flying penthouse apartment? Have you flown on any of Delta’s original 747 aircraft? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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