Hi fellow forum members. As stated, I will be posting once a week for five weeks with each subsequent era article. This is the second article of five. Stay tuned each week for the rest of the story! I have cleared these articles with the moderators, and have created a separate thread which introduced the topic here:viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1419061
For those of you who are just joining, you may want to begin with the first article, which can be found here:viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1419683 Intro: First 747-100 Goes to Pan Am
So, we pick up right where we left off. As we discussed in the previous article, Pan Am was extremely influential in the planning and early production stages of the Boeing 747-100. They were at the table from day one. They were a part of all of the mock-ups, and they even had stewardess placement along the way for promotional purposes. While we talked all about the initial 747s that were coming off the line, the one that was on everyone’s eye at Pan Am was the first one to officially be delivered; Pan Am plane number four.
The Pan Am number four 747-100, was delivered to Pan Am on December 13, 1969. It was christened by the First Lady, Mrs. Nixon, a few days later at Dulles airport, on December 15, 1969, with the iconic tri-motor in the background. Right behind it was Pan Am number five, which was delivered on December 19, 1969. Pan Am now had two 747-100s which it could start training its pilots on in Roswell, New Mexico. Remember that Pan Am planes number one through three were still being used for testing purposes at Boeing, and wouldn’t be converted until later in 1970. The first scheduled commercial passenger flight was still over a month away, and Pan Am planes number six and seven were to be delivered on January 9, 1970, and January 20, 1970 respectively. The plan was to have Pan Am plane number six take the monumental flight from New York to London on January 21, 1970. However, due to an issue with an engine overheating on the ground, the plane had to be switched out with Pan Am plane number seven. This same plane (number seven) would later be involved in the largest aviation accident in history: Tenerife. The engine overheating on plane six, delayed the first flight into the next morning, January 22, 1970. Plane seven would take off around 1:00AM EST, and would successfully complete the flight to London in six hours, shaving off about 30 minutes from the 707’s prior flight time.
Off to a good start, Pan Am had its plan in place to become the largest operator of the 747 in the United States- The system of the seventies. Within the first year, the New York Port Authority showed that JFK airport’s scheduled number of overseas passenger flights were down by 3.7 percent, but that the total number of scheduled flight overseas passengers had increased by 9.7 percent. In other words, the 747 was meeting its challenge of cutting down on congestion by putting more people on a single larger plane, and there were now statistics to show it. With such a large plane came a large cabin responsibility opposite the cockpit door. This cabin-staff chieftain was known as the “In-Flight Service Director.” He would report to the captain, but also the passenger. This position was essentially a combination of steward and manager. He had to oversee every aspect of the cabin, and solicit as much feedback as possible to make the experience even better. I felt it important to include this element of the story, because Pan Am had not focused on the steward this heavily since its days of the Boeing 314 flying boat. On those large planes, stewards were required as the berths and functions of the trip were seen as extremely strenuous for stewardesses over long journeys. Of course, it was a different time, but it was interesting to see Pan Am make the connection between their large 314, and large 747. Within this flight director observed cabin, came the classes and upper deck of the launch period. 1970-1973: A Launch Interior Unlike the Rest
As the launch customer, Pan Am had plenty of time to determine how they wanted to outfit their cabins. As with the previous article, I will work through the cabins front to back, beginning with the first class cabin, with seating for fifty-eight, which was located in the A-Zone and B-Zone. The seat was designed by Hardman Aerospace, and was a collaborative effort with Pan Am to develop a completely new seat that concentrated on body support over side to side space. As the back moved out, the seat itself would recline for better passenger support. It had a layered cushion design. The headrest and backrest were layered cushions on top of the seat base. The seats featured controls and headphone jacks in the seat side. They also had tray tables that came out of the armrest as the seats were too far apart to comfortably have them in the seat backs as in the mock-ups and pre-production first class cabins. While the seat would be updated over the years, this general first class seat design remained in the Pan Am 747-100 until 1979. The seat material was a fabric cloth. An interesting thing to note is that the fabric extended on to the sides of the seats. Most seat sides were made of plastic shells at the time. The colors of the first class seats were coordinated with the launch of the new Pan Am 747 stewardess uniforms. The colors: Galaxy Beige and 747 Blue. These colors would extend into the upper deck as well. The seats were arranged in pairs of two on the outer rows in the A-Zone and B-Zone in Galaxy Beige. In front of the spiral staircase, and in the center of the B-Zone, there were seat pairs in 747 Blue. Headrest covers were a contrasting white for beige seats, and a lighter blue for the blue seats. To add to the party, the seat set in front of the spiral staircase had a small bench opposite it with a table that could be setup in between for playing cards or socializing. The seat was not for passenger sale however- it was only for use while in flight. The wall in the A-Zone cone was 747 blue to match the center 747 blue seat sets, and the carpets were galaxy beige to match the outer seats. The walls were a patterned neutral design, typical of many 747s of the time. The spiral staircase had also evolved to have a subdued dark paneling surrounding it rather than the previous wood-grain tone. Speaking of the spiral staircase, why don’t we step upstairs to the upper deck.
The official production upper deck would be an amazingly beautiful application of the galaxy beige and 747 blue color pallets that Pan Am had come up with. To recap, the pre-production upper deck had tables on either side, a reversable couch in the center, and a back-wall couch, with a small bench on the front wall. The production layout was much simplified to have two 747 blue tables, each with galaxy beige seating for four (eight seats total). Each of the eight galaxy beige seats had swiveling capabilities to create a more sociable atmosphere. In addition, there was one wrap-around couch on the back wall in 747 blue with seating for eight. Total seating was sixteen. Finally, the carpeting was galaxy beige to match the seating. These colors, as previously stated, were designed in conjunction with the stewardess uniforms as well as in conjunction with the first class cabin seats. It is important to note that toward the end of the upper deck lounge (1972), the upholstery on the rear couch was changed from 747 blue, to red. This was done to align with the dining room test on the main deck which would come about shortly and feature red seating.
Back to the upper deck, above the couch was the famous Boeing patinaed mirror wall with small opening doors on either side for hanging jackets and storage. Finally, between the wall and the couch, on level surfaces, there were breath-taking chrome ball décor pieces placed on either end of the couch. Talk about austerity and elegance. Some other interesting things to note were that the upper deck had one emergency exit door that was designed truly for emergencies. You were told to go downstairs if possible as the upper deck slide was not ideal for exiting. It was not even linked to the door like the main floor; instead, it was a separate slide box that you would inflate manually. Also, there was a wet bar at the top of the stair case with a false door that opened inward. This allowed flight attendants to have an auxiliary galley location to work in when in the upper deck. Speaking of galleys, there was a dumbwaiter which brought food and drinks up from the main galley which was located under the intercom phone at the top of the stairs. Finally, the upper deck had three windows on either side, even though technically the plane could support up to ten windows on either side. They were more like port holes than windows, and the cutouts were even illuminated with a subtle lighting from the top. As noted, this was a very austere approach to the upper deck as compared to others on the market.
Moving back downstairs, past the B-Zone, revealed the enormous coach section, with seating for three hundred four. The coach cabin seat was built by Aerotherm. The seat had a floating look design to it, had incorporated controls and headphone ports on the base, and featured the same double reclining action of the first class cabin seats, plus some cool engineering feats: Each seat had two adjustable armrests that could be folded down and out of the way. Each of the seats had the seat number as a tag redundantly sewn into the side where the armrest would rest in the up position. Each seat also had an adjustable headrest which could raise up to three inches. This was something unique over first class. Like the first class cabin, the seats were layered cushions. Unlike first class, the seat back cushion could fold down as a table or separator. This was ideal for situations on the left side of the cabin which had three seats where the center seat cushion could be put down between two strangers. In fact, market surveys at launch indicated that ninety percent of the middle seats would be sold to people requesting them; usually involving a couple travelling with a child. The other ten percent of the center seats in the three abreast row would be sold last. An interesting fact was that there were ashtrays mounted in the top of each seat back, with sliding doors. Pan Am engineers said that the ashtrays would have to be “big enough to handle fifteen, half-smoked filter tip cigarettes of ‘101 millimeter’ type, plus the wrappings from the package.” In other words, the ashtrays were large.
The seating layout was primarily 3-4-2, with a few rows that had fewer seats where the fuselage narrowed in a 2-4-1 layout. The seats were also staggered so that the rows did not line up intentionally. This layout was broken into three cabins, and for Pan Am there would even be a color-coordination element to the different cabins, to aid with embarkation. Each section featured a main color on the inner rows, and an auxiliary color in the outer rows. The auxiliary color would aid in embarkation. The main color for all three sections was galaxy beige (same as first class outer rows). The auxiliary colors were red for the front section (C-Zone), yellow for the center section (D-Zone), and orange for the rear section (E-Zone). When it comes to headrest covers, there were four different versions: red, yellow, orange and white. They were also coordinated with your section/zone. For embarkation purposes, your boarding pass had your seat number in the color-coordinated box on the pass, which showed you the section that your seat was based. In the initial concept form, there were going to be boarding jet-ways each linked to an individual boarding lounge room. The carpeting in the room would match your boarding pass box, and the auxiliary colored seats in the section of the plane you were to sit. More importantly, because of the innovative embarkation design, people would be able to get on this large plane in record time. The embarkation color coded boarding pass was short lived as it was never fully adopted- particularly when there was a lack of lounges and/or jetways. While this was very innovative in concept, it never really worked as efficiently as Pan Am had hoped.
Very quickly after launch, was the B-Zone dining room test. Before we jump too far into what it was, we need to understand what brought it on so quickly after the plane had launched. American Airlines had introduced a B-Zone swivel dining option that seemingly surpassed Pan Am’s at-seat experience. Dining in the sky was becoming somewhat of a novelty, and it was far superior to sitting at your main seat with a tray table. I guess the irony in all of this was that Pan Am leased a 747 to American, as American wanted to stay competitive while waiting for their first delivery. Then American turned around, and was offering superior services once their own 747 was delivered. All the while, having flown Pan Am’s own plane for a year prior. That’s right, the first American 747 even had an identical cabin to Pan Am’s launch, since while on lease, it was only repainted, not completely gutted. Pan Am obviously had to respond to all of this to stay competitive, and as Pan Am, they had to do it better. Considering that Pan Am had essentially invented fine dining in the sky some 40 years earlier, they obviously had routes of prior knowledge to go off of. The M-130 and B-314 both featured dedicated dining rooms, and helped to make the passenger experience far beyond normal. Teddy Roosevelt even ate aboard a Pan Am Boeing 314 at one point.
Given all this history, and the ever-increasing competition, in 1972, Pan Am would take their fleet, and gradually install a B-Zone dining room that was as elegant as could be in the typical Pan Am fashion. The seats were similar to the first class cabin, but they were upholstered in red rather than galaxy beige or 747 blue, and featured an armrest with ashtray and normal seat controls on each bench. The headrest covers were contrasting white, and there were two outer tables for four, and one center table for two, for a total of ten dining seats. The table leaves would fold up together to create a lounge like table that offered more room when not dining. When ready to dine, the table was extended, a table cloth was placed, and fine china was used to set the table. There were curtains to keep the other cabins out: galaxy beige and 747 blue, alternating in color. While the B-Zone was previously all first class seating, (thirty-two seats originally in the B-zone), with the addition of the dining room, twenty seats were removed from the B-Zone to make room for the three large dining tables. Three first class rows remained on either outer side of the B-zone. Talk about exclusivity in that there were only ten dining seats for the remaining thirty-eight first class passenger seats. While it is unclear how this test dining service worked, it was most likely similar to the later dining in the sky upper deck which required reservations ahead of the trip. Some anecdotal research stated that this dining test was by invite only- but again it is unclear. This dining room evolution was a prime example of the mixed affair Pan Am experienced by being the first one to operate the behemoth. These were answers to a flooded market of airlines offering services on their new 747s. All of this live feedback and observation would help Pan Am to bring about its first major update to the cabin in 1973.1973-1976: Take a Good Thing and Make it Better
While the oil embargo was in full swing, and Pan Am was focusing on how to save every drop of fuel they could, they figured it was a good time to improve their 747 fleet to keep people choosing them over the competition. Beginning with the first class cabin, the seats were updated. While the same seat design remained, they no longer had fabric on the sides. The fabric color was updated from galaxy beige seats on the outer rows and 747 blue seats on the center rows, to all 747 blue seats. By this point, while the color-coded embarkation system was mostly out of use, the first class cabin finally matched the boarding pass system. Early on, the headrest covers were contrasting white, as they were on the launch galaxy beige seats. Over the years, the headrest covers would change to matching blue on blue. The B-Zone still retained its three rows of two on either side, leaving total seating for thirty eight, but it was the dining room test that had evolved.
Studies had shown that people really enjoyed the B-Zone dining experience. As a result, in 1973, Pan Am went to the drawing board and redesigned the upper deck from its original lounge, to a completely new dining room. On short flights where meal service was not able to be initiated due to time constraints, the upper deck could still be used as a lounge. Just like with the B-Zone dining room, the tables upstairs featured foldable leaves to offer more space when not in the dining setup. The setup consisted of four tables with seating for fourteen. There were two tables with half back-wall benches, and half swivel seats, each seating four. There was also one table with four swivel seats, and finally one small table with two swivel seats. In addition, there was a small folding jump seat against the front wall, for staff. In artist renderings, there were initially going to be two singular seating tables, but the final design changed slightly upon production. As for the design of the upper deck, the back patinaed mirror wall was refreshed to look wooden with a spherical design built into it. A clipper ship back drop adorned the outside of the galley. These design elements were part of the nautical transition that was underway and to be in full swing come the next era. The swivel seats were white leather with orange and red fabric cushions. The color alternated shades among the chairs. The bench on the back wall which was shared among two tables, was upholstered in red and white fabric, and the folding tables would be covered in table cloths upon meal service initiation.
The dining room on the main deck remined briefly as an auxiliary lounge. The headrests had been updated to a contrasting galaxy beige, instead of the previous matching red, but retained the white covers. This was part of the cabin fabric randomization that occurred during this 1973 refresh. Other airlines like TWA and United had introduced main level lounges in addition to their upper deck lounges, and Pan Am likely kept this main deck lounge during this period to remain competitive. Pan Am was still trying to determine what to do with the B-Zone, and while Clipper Class would be the ultimate fit, that was only in the earliest of planning stages, at this time.
Finally, moving past the B-Zone to the C, D and E-Zones, let’s discuss the updated coach section of the plane. Along with the upper deck dining room, first class reupholstering, and refresh of the main floor dining room into a lounge, came the refreshing of the coach cabin as well. While the coach section seating layout and count remained unchanged (3-4-2 and seating for three hundred four), for each section of coach, the seat cushions were reversed in color between the center and outer rows (or main and auxiliary colors). Company memos referred to this refresh as cabin randomization. The three cabin themed colors remained however: Red, yellow, and orange. The cushions were reversed to create a contrasting look on the seat. The color coordinated headrest covers remained in each coach section as they were at launch. One additional change that had occurred is there was no longer food cart service in coach. The problem, as indicated by a company memo, was that people would get trapped in their section when both aisles were occupied by serving carts. While they tried to better coordinate the service not to take up both aisles at once, they ultimately would discontinue cart service in coach and serve by tray instead. Now that we’ve thoroughly discussed one of the most important eras of Pan Am’s 747 cabins, the launch era, get ready for the next article delving into one of the longest and most eventful eras Pan Am held- The bi-centennial era from 1976 to 1984. We will explore the introduction of clipper class, the 747SP, and the cabin changes that came along with it all.