TWA Flight TW 700
Scheduled Departure: 7:55PM, Gate 44
Actual Departure: 9:20PM, Gate 44
Aircraft: Boeing 747-131
Seat: 2A - Royal Ambassador, First Class
Back in 1989, I was just 17 years old and was headed to Oxford, England for a summer abroad, pre-college enrichment program. My dad was a very frequent flyer on Trans World Airlines (Frequent Flight Bonus Program, I think it was called then) and had gotten me a free ticket in First Class as I was travelling alone. The rest of my group was travelling on British Airways from JFK to London Gatwick, on what was then a 747-200 flight, recently taken over by BA from British Caledonian.
I checked in at the beautiful Saarinen terminal. At that time, TWA used to display check in on brown and white boards, by destination. London check in was on the far right, as you entered. Tel Aviv, Bombay, and Athens had their check in positions in the center of the terminal, near the huge window that overlooked the apron and all those "Skyliner 747's and L1011 aircraft, bound for Europe.
After spending an hour or so in the Ambassador Lounge on the second floor above the terminal, I headed to Gate 44 in the Finger on the right, next to the IAB Terminal 4 (the old one). Boarding began at 7:25 and we were told there would be a delay, due to a mechanical problem and the late arrival of about 20 or so passengers coming in from Los Angeles. The delay progressed to around 9:20PM. This was always common with TWA. Their flights rarely, if ever, left on time. There was always a problem and it was usually mechanical or connecting pax. JFK was their international gateway back then. We finally pushed back and joined the long line of departures on the runway and as I recall it, we were airborne around 10 or so PM. The flight itself was around 5 hours and 50 minutes. The cabin of my 747 was in good shape overall. It was relatively clean and bright and the service was good. The food was presented in a nice style. I think I had slept through most of the main meal but had breakfast in the morning just prior to arrival.
The Royal Ambassador cabin had blue seats with a red and white/gray stripe down the middle, footrests, and tons of legroom. The wall at the nose had a silver double stripe against a blue carpeted panel. Flight 700 was the second of two daily nonstops to LHR that TWA operated. The other was flight 708, another 747 flight, that departed around 6:30 or so. LHR was one of three cities in Europe that, at that time, when TWA was the #1 US airline across the Atlantic, that received double daily 747 service during the summer, the other two being CDG and FCO.
Descent into a sunny Heathrow was uneventful and we deplaned around 9:50AM, some two hours late.
Overall a memorable experience. A great, classy airline.