Transatlantic services began on March 18, between New York and London. By 1971 TWA had 14 747s in service (having topped up its order by purchasing Eastern's four delivery slots) and was also operating the type from New York to Paris, Rome and Madrid.
The TWA 747s were configured into 5 zones (A-E) moving from nose to tail. The first class Zones A and B seated 24 and 38 passengers respectively. The economy class zones had a spacious nine abreast seating (in a 3:4:2 pattern across). The seats were a full 2 inches wider than previous TWA seats. The three economy class zones seated 284 passengers as follows: zone C (92), zone D (78) and zone E (114). The different zones were colour coded with first class A and B naturally as Gold. Economy zones were blue, red and green. Passenger boarding passes were coloured appropriately to enable easier boarding.
The size of the aircraft enabled TWA to introduce other luxury features. The standard 'meals on wheels' style service was dropped and replaced by a personalised service allowing passengers to order when they wished during standard meal periods. As was expected by then each zone of the aircraft had a large movie screen and the capability to show different films in different zones. Nowadays this seems hopelessly outdated but at the time it was cutting edge. The passenger zones also enabled the splitting of smoking and non-smoking passengers. The upper deck was used as a lounge for first class passengers rather than for additional seating. It could accommodate up to 16 passengers and had its own bar.
By 1979 TWA had reconfigured the 747 fleet and although the upper deck was still used as a first class lounge the first class seating had been reduced to only 33. The economy areas had changed to ten abreast seating and capacity had gone up to 363 seats, giving a total of 396 passengers compared to only 346 when they were introduced. Below is an ad showing the later configuration:
TWA would expand its 747 fleet into the 1980s with the purchase of a trio of new 747SPs and a selection of second hand 747-100s (5) and 200s (7). The type would continue to be the backbone of the airline's shrinking long haul network well into the 1990s. TWA's last 747, N93108, was one of the originals and was ferried to Marana in November 1998 as the last flyable jumbo the airline had. By the end of her career she had amassed a total time of 105,230 hours and 19,566 landings. Long after the airline she had joined had changed beyond all recognition the 747 kept the globe of Trans World flying.
1981. Lucas, J. Boeing 747 - The First Ten Years in Service. Jane's
1983. Serling, R. Howard Hughes' Airline: An Informal History of TWA. St Martin's / Marek
Davies, R.E.G. TWA: AN Airlines and its Aircraft
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: