I have had a love affair with the Boeing 747 for over 20 years now and finally had the opportunity to fulfill a bucket list item of mine by climbing the stairs to the upper deck earlier this year on a Cathay Pacific flight between Tokyo (HND) and Hong Kong (HKG). Sadly, the Queen of the Skies is being retired at a faster and faster pace, so opportunities to fly topside are dwindling. Since not everyone wants to redeem their hard earned miles for premium cabins, I figured I would dedicate a post to how you can fly the top deck of the 747 on an economy class ticket!
My love affair with the Boeing 747 started over 20 years ago when I lived in Michigan. When Northwest Airlines was still around, their hub was my home airport – Detroit (DTW). When you entered the grounds for Detroit Airport, you were greeted by a giant Northwest 747 on the side of their maintenance building.
When I was 11 years old, I had the opportunity to fly the Northwest 747 between Detroit and Tokyo (NRT) on my way to Bangkok. I can still vividly remember asking my parents what was upstairs and wanting to go up there extremely badly.
Traditionally, the upper deck of the 747 has been reserved for lounges and premium cabin travelers.
However, it turns out that there are two airlines that offer economy class seating on the upper deck of the 747! Those two airlines are EVA Air and Virgin Atlantic.
EVA Air’s 747 fleet has largely been converted from passenger service to cargo service. They currently only operate 3 747-400’s and have slated those 3 aircraft to be retired from commercial service by March 27, 2017. Those 3 remaining 747s however all feature an all economy class upper deck!
Until EVA retires their 747s in early 2017, the aircraft will be operated between the following destinations:
- Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) and Sapporo, Japan (CTS) – 1x daily
- Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) and Seattle (SEA) – 3x weekly
- Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) and Shanghai Pu Dong (PVG) – 2x daily
- Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) and Vancouver, Canada (YVR) – 5x weekly
EVA does not appear to charge any extra to select a seat on the upper deck of 747 operated flights, which makes them the best deal for flying topside on the 747 in economy.
EVA Air flights can be booked with all Star Alliance partner mileage currency and EVA itself is a direct transfer partner for your Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Starpoints.
The other airline that offers economy seating on the upper deck of the 747 is Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic’s 747 fleet has largely remained intact over the years, though they still currently only operate 8 747-400’s. However, unlike EVA Air, Virgin Atlantic has not announced any plans to retire any of their 8 remaining 747s. Virgin Atlantic runs two configurations on their 747s – one that offers both economy and premium economy on the upper deck:
And one that offer both economy and Upper Class (business class) on the upper deck:
747s with economy class seating available on the upper deck are available on flights between the following destinations:
- Glasgow, Scotland (GLA) and Orlando, Florida (MCO) – 2x weekly
- London, England (LGW) and Cancun, Mexico (CUN) – 3x weekly
- London, England (LGW) and Havana, Cuba (HAV) – 2x weekly
- London, England (LGW) and Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) – 1x weekly
- London, England (LGW) and Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) – 3x weekly
- London, England (LGW) and Orlando, Florida (MCO) – 13-14x weekly
- London, England (LHR) and Miami, Florida (MIA) – 1x daily
- London, England (LHR) and New York, New York (JFK) – 5x weekly
- Manchester, England (MAN) and Barbados (BGI) – 1x weekly
- Manchester, England (MAN) and Las Vegas, Nevada (LAS) – 2x weekly
- Manchester, England (MAN) and Orlando, Florida (MCO) – 11x weekly
Virgin Atlantic does appear to charge for reserving economy seats on the upper deck in advance of your flight, though I could not find any specific numbers for the above flights. Selecting seats at any time before 24 hours prior to departure will cost you $40 and up, while seat selection once check-in has opened is complimentary.
Virgin Atlantic flights can be booked with Delta SkyMiles with low taxes and fees and no surcharges on flights from the U.S. to London and with moderate taxes, fees and surcharges on flights from London to the U.S. Virgin Atlantic is also a direct transfer partner for your American Express Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Starpoints, though I would strongly advise against transferring your points to Virgin Atlantic as they impose exorbitant surcharges on their award tickets.
I am a huge fan of the 747 and flying on the upper deck. If you gave me a milk crate and some rope to strap myself in for a 15 hour flight, I would be absolutely giddy with excitement over getting to fly topside again. Although the 747 is now a dying breed, I think this is a great way for people who do not want to spend the miles or the money on premium cabins to get a chance to fly topside on the 747. I will definitely be looking for cheap tickets on the EVA Air Seattle (SEA) to Taipei (TPE) route for my next trip to Asia as I would love to review this unique product!
Have any of you flown topside on the 747 in economy? How was it?
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