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Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Mon May 02, 2022 12:24 am

All airline & airport personnel, I will solicit your stories in a separate poll; however, this one is for passengers only.

What is your best cockpit visit and/or aircraft tour story?

My best was in late May of 2004. Friends of mine who were living in Chicago had announced they would be moving back to San Diego in early June, and my last chance to have a free place to stay in the Windy City was coming to an end. I planned a trip, and went to

And one of the one-stop options to ORD was via LAX, connecting onto a 747-400.

Yep, right before complete extinction from domestic skies, a genuine, bonafide 747-400 flight was available. DONE!

I checked in at the Commuter Terminal at SAN, and the sweet agent inquired as to why I was taking this particular route, I told her, "I'm flying on a 747-400 before they are gone from domestic routes entirely". She nodded, and said with a smile, "I understand that!! Enjoy your flight!"

Back in those days when just anyone could get exit row seating, I procured seat 33B, middle seat in a windowless row, but directly opposite a flight attendant. I struck up a conversation about why I was on this flight, and he began telling me how much this is his favorite plane. "You wanna see the service areas?" he asked after the drink service, and I took him up on it. Obviously, I didn't get to go downstairs, but I did see the elevators for them. I didn't get into the front of the plane; however, the rest of the tour was quite a kick, and certainly most unexpected!

Eventually the flight began its approach to ORD, and we landed normally, taxied to our gate, Everyone else got off quickly; I however stuck around to thank the crew again.

The same flight attendant saw me, and then out of the blue asked me: "would you like to see the cockpit?"

My jaw hit the floor. After 9/11, i didn't think this was ever anything that would ever be allowed again; yet, here it was.

"Yes please!"

Up we went into the top deck. My first time EVER on an upper deck (it was only my second 747 trip ever, the first a TWA 747-100 or 200!), and here was the magical cockpit door opening for me. As breathtaking as it was, my first thought was, "Wow, this IS a tiny place!". Then I was told I could go in. And I did, and sat in the Captain's spot.

On the way out, I thanked the crew again and told them how much I appreciated the VIP treatment. He said so few people interact this way, it's a treat to meet enthusiasts who know what they are talking about.

I have visited cockpits since, and I do try and say a thank you to pilots from the boarding bridge upon departing the plane, but nothing beats the thrill of the very first time.

Now it's time for your best stories - and thank you for sharing your pleasant memories of flying!

I saw this crew again at ORD on my return a few days later - they were off on a 747-400 flight to Hong Kong!
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Mon May 02, 2022 3:02 am

My son was around 7 years old when a Mexicana Airlines F-100 packed with passengers captain allowed him not only to make the whole flight in the Jump Seat but even allowed him to sit down in the left seat in mid flight.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Mon May 02, 2022 2:50 pm

Summer, 1955. Cockpit of a Western DC3 to Jackson Hole Wyoming. IN the cockpit IN FLIGHT. This was for a short time, then we were asked to return to our seats. As my family were the only ones aboard, they left the cockpit doors open so that we could watch everything. What a wonderful time that was to live.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Mon May 02, 2022 4:58 pm

LOVE these stories - exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!!
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Mon May 02, 2022 5:29 pm

My story is similar to the one by the thread starter. On a return trip ORD/SEA I booked a connection through SFO rather than a direct flight just to fly on a 747-400 (UA). Spoke to the head flight attendant during to trip and asked if I could tour the upper deck when we landed in SFO. While up there the captain came out of the cockpit and invited me in, then also showed me the crew rest area etc.
On another non-passenger note, thanks to A.Net I was contacted by a fellow a.nutter who was high up the food chain at Boeing and was invited to tour the 787-8 and 747-8 during their flight test programs. I got the full tour for sure, going over pretty much every inch of both aircraft. I was like a kid in a candy store! :cloudnine:
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Tue May 03, 2022 12:44 am

Mid 70s, my first RPT flight SYD-WGA-SYD, Airlines of NSW Fokker F27. This "mystery flight" (the cheapest way to buy an air ticket in Australia at the time) was a special treat for my sister and I, and we were taken to the cockpit to say hi to the flight crew on descent into WGA.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Tue May 03, 2022 2:46 am

AA 747 ORD-DTW ~1970 maybe (would have to check a timetable). The 747 with the piano lounge. After arrival at the gate, my dad asked if we could visit the flight deck. When we got up there, the pilot opened the hatch in the cockpit ceiling and I got a lift to look up and out back to the tail.

Forever grateful to my dad for asking and that American crew for the privilege. Thank you, AA.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Tue May 03, 2022 3:37 am

1996, my brother and I were flying LAX-HKG to visit our dad there during summer vacation. We were on CX 881 aboard VR-HOX, and were tagged as unaccompanied minors. Somewhere en route I was getting antsy and went for a walk, and chatted with some flight attendants in one of the midsection galleys. I mentioned I was really into aviation and she asked if my brother and I would like to see the cockpit. I said sure, thinking she meant after the flight. She asked my seat and said 'no promises, but I'll see what the Captain says'.

About an hour later she came to find us and said 'come with me, they're waiting for you upstairs'. So we went and joined the crew in the observer seats while they were making check-in calls over Japan and Taiwan. There was an Aussie and an American guy and they were telling us about their path to flying the B744. I still remember the Aussie guy saying he had been flying Jetstreams in Australia just a few years prior and never imagined he'd be there. They let us stay for almost an hour, which was incredible to me, and we said hi to the crew that had been resting as they returned. To make matters even better, when we returned to our seats the FA came back and said because our dad had arranged to meet us, they wanted to deboard us first, so they moved us up to two empty business class seats for the remainder of the flight. About 90 minutes later we landed on runway 31 at Kai Tak in awful conditions - it was dusk, misty with low ceilings shrouding the mountains, and windy as hell. That was a really fun day!
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Tue May 03, 2022 10:31 pm

Made it inflight into a flight deck (post 9/11). I was asked to not disclose airline or type, but it actually happened. Saw the cockpit door open while boarding and asked whether I could enter. Talked with the crew and bluntly asked whether the jumpseat is available. Captain said not for departure or approach but inflight when everyone is asleep I should ask a flight attendnat. I did that and then I was sitting for an hour on the jump and talking with the pilots inflight.

Greatest experience ever.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 1:24 pm


Firstly many thanks for the thread and maybe just my 2 cents although sorry I have yet to read the whole thread yet. But I have to first agree that on first seeing most real cockpits on the rare occasions that I did my thought was the same. "This is a lot smaller than in the movies!"

Also I never had a real cockpit visit as such but I guess 2 experiences did stand out maybe...

1. In the summer of 1996 I was in a country called Vanuatu in the South Pacific and took a few flights for travel with the airline Vanair and the Twin Otters they had. That was definitely great. Cockpit door open watching the pilot fly and use the trim wheel. My brother got to spend one hop/flight in the copilot's seat with headset on(!) Landing on small grass strips near Volcanos and dodging clouds and flying around like a bus. It totally got me hooked(!)

2. And more sedate I guess when older and still not a cockpit as such but around 2010. I did a for-fun day trip from London Gatwick to Manchester with BA. The return flight to Gatwick though was cancelled so we were put on the LHR flight with a free bus to LGW. Of course being me though I was not listening during the flight and ended up in arrivals asking some flight attendents who came off what to do. Apparently they handed out the transfer tickets if needed on exit but amazingly the A320 captain I just had offered to take me up to departures and make sure I was set. So up we went and I was sorted really pretty soon. And on the way I tried not to bore him too much with my gliding and Cessna tasters I had done! He said that the parking at T5 was initially meant to be under the Terminal but it was too expensive so they went for the big adjacent Short Stay which he didn't particularly love. But still how cool was that and definitely a travel helping hand I will remember BA very favourably for!

Anyway hope this might have come out ok and with many thanks,

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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 2:17 pm

In 1993 my girlfriend & I were flying Manchester (UK) to Paphos (Cyprus) on a Caledonian 757.
My girlfriend was a stewardess for another airline and knew I was an enthusiast and got talking with the stewardesses on this flight To my very pleasant supprise this ended up with me being invited to flightdeck during the cruise, and for more than an hour I sat in the jumpseat behind the captain chatting about the aircraft and its systems.
On this particular leg, the copilot was pilot flying, and the captain was pilot monitoring - the copilot being quite a young guy who didn't look much older than myself ! - mid 20's ish. Talk got around to our destination, Paphos in Cyprus, and out came the relevant plate for that airport and the arrival was discussed. Paphos at that time had a single ~8000ft runway with no parallel taxiway and just a single turnoff to the apron about halfway along. The pilots discuss the arrival and we talk about the layout of the airport, and while we're talking the captain (presumably being a bit showy because of my presence) reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out £10 & slaps it down on the center console and bets the copilot he can't land & stop before the one and only turn off (i.e no back-tracking required) ! So I went back to my seat knowing the landing was going to be on the numbers and the braking firm. The copilot won his bet - we stopped in time :)
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 4:48 pm

Yes, good old times. Did a charter flight on one of these Spanish charter airlines back in the 90s. The crew invited me for landing to the cockpit, which was fantastic. Best part, the pilot told me to sit on the floor and hold tight - in today's world totally impossible!

This experience was one of the reasons I started working as cabin crew. Part of the job, thanks to the long turn-around times with cleaning and catering, was the rest time; which I spent visiting exotic airlines and airliners - like CUBANA DC10 or TravelService TU154. The crews in those days were all outstanding, like a big family!
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 8:08 pm

1998: Lufthansa A340-300. One of the greatest memories of my life!

I was 16 and in flight school. I was departing ATL for FRA, to spend 3 weeks backpacking through Europe.

On boarding, I was able to sneak a look into the cockpit and say "hi". During the flight, I had been talking it up with a Flight Attendant, talking aviation, etc. En route, she came back and said: "The captain would like know if you'd like to visit the cockpit!" :o

I was on the deck for at least 15 minutes. They answered everything, even moved the side stick to show me how it would course correct. It was amazing.

It gets better.

When I got to my seat, there was a bottle of champagne as a "gift!" (And I'm 16, remember. So of course I helped myself).

It gets even better.

I suppose we were an hour away from FRA, and the Flight Attendant woke me up, and asked if I'd like to go to the cockpit for landing! :cloudnine:

I went back up, they secured me in the jumpseat, and I watched in awe from decent, approach, landing, and to the gate. (I thought it was funny they didn't know the gate to which they were supposed to go. Took a few minutes to resolve).

The Europe trip was of course awesome.... But NOTHING compared to that flight!
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 8:54 pm

As a young, frequent unaccompanied minor based out of SAT with a dad in OKC I got a lot of cockpit visits / jumpseat time on old WN 737-200 and -300s. Back with the old tan livery when they had the lounge seating at the bulkhead and exit rows. The FAs back then went out of their way to make sure unaccompanied minors got the royal treatment.

Most memorable for me would have to be as a CAP cadet being taken up in a C-130 out of Kelly AFB. In addition to the cockpit tour I was told to do push-ups in the cargo bay while the pilots pulled some steep maneuvers and then to strap in while they opened the cargo door and flew that way for a while with San Antonio spooling out a few thousand feet below us. All time great aviation experience.
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Re: Passengers Only: Best Cockpit Visit Or Aircraft Tour Story!

Wed May 04, 2022 9:59 pm

Lots of visits up front over my passenger flying life. The most memorable was back in 1985 when I was a wee lad, went up front of an AC L1011 from YVR-LHR-DUS and got to move the dial to yaw the aircraft's autopilot - its pretty well the flight that made me fall in love with aviation.

Sat up front on a 2T A330 from YVR-DUS for the whole flight, from take-off to landing a couple of times as well.

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