A Bucket List Dream: Riding in the Upper Deck of a Boeing 747

A Bucket List Dream: Riding in the Upper Deck of a Boeing 747

A Bucket List Dream: Riding in the Upper Deck of a Boeing 747

There are a lot of “Bucket List” things I’ve dreamed about doing but one of them that I never thought I’d actually be able to do was ride in the upper deck of a Boeing 747. It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a little kid but as I’ve gotten older and airlines increasingly started retiring them my hope for making it happen began to dwindle. Luckily though I had the opportunity to do last December as part of a 40th Birthday Present trip to Europe sponsored by Viking Cruises to tour Christmas Markets on the Rhine.

While the entire experience was truly a bucket list experience, I was like a little kid the moment I got to the tarmac at London’s Heathrow Airport. The 747 is a HUGE aircraft with a wingspan of 211 feet and four super powerful Rolls Royce engines giving it a range of 8,357 miles. Honestly though, you don’t begin to understand how massive it is unless you also have the experience of walking up the stairs to it. I’m not sure why there was no jet way for our flight, but I’m sorta glad there wasn’t since I got to see it from the outside up close.

Then, once we were at the top of the stairs it was time to enter the plane and ascend another set of stairs to the upper deck. This is where the experience became even more remarkable. This plane has 55 rows and can carry more than 300 people (275 people in the configuration we flew on) … but once we climbed up the stairs to the upper deck it was like we were in our own private cabin.

Riding the Upper Deck of a Boeing 747 with British Airways is now on my Bucket List! #BritishAirways Click To Tweet

With only 20 people, our own dedicated attendants, two bathrooms and even our own snack bar – we were in a world of our own. Aside from the fact that I felt compelled to walk downstairs “just because I could”, there was no reason to leave our elite little private plane experience.

Like many bucket list experiences, this wasn’t cheap and I likely will never be able to replicate it again. However, it is a memory of when air travel used to be fun. Never again will there be a plane like this.


Even the Airbus A380, the only other double decker passenger plane right now has its upper deck spanning the entire length of the plane. While I look forward to flying one of those soon, it can’t possibly match the experience of a two by two seating arrangement with near private plane service.

Hats off to British Airways. While our plane was certainly among the older metal flying the skies today, it had been recently updated with new seats, new lighting, and perhaps most importantly a new inflight entertainment system. On our 10+ hour flight from London to San Diego that was a wonderful experience. As were the Cadbury chocolates and champagne that were being constantly offered to us!

It’s an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and if you too share this dream – make sure you book your flight soon! While there were once hundreds of 747’s flying the skies, British Airways – the largest operator of them currently – only has 40 still in active service. Other airlines such as United Airlines and Delta will be retiring their remaining planes by the end of the year.

About the Author: James Hills

James lives in San Diego, California with his wife and dog Niki Belle. He loves to travel and explore new experiences across the United States and around the world. James is a freelance writer for several publications in addition to running ManTripping.com a site dedicated to men’s travel and lifestyle topics. He is also a member of the IFWTWA and the #MenWhoBlog blogger network. His goal for 2017 is to finally tour Alaska – the last of the 50 US states that he needs to visit.

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51 thoughts on “A Bucket List Dream: Riding in the Upper Deck of a Boeing 747

  1. Wow! It looks like you had a good in-flight time there! And the food looks better than most standard airline fare food. I’m glad that you enjoyed the experience.

    1. The food was “good” – honestly I’ve never had “great” airline food but I didn’t leave any on my tray 🙂 plus scotch and champagne has a tendency to help make any food taste even better 🙂

  2. What an amazing way to celebrate 40. To ring in 31 my husband got us first class tickets to Vegas. Despite all my travels I’d somehow managed to miss out on Vegas, so that checked it off the list, and the first class experience was a dream. Now, upper deck to a European Viking cruise is my new goal for 40!!!

    1. Viking Cruises are amazing. We had a fantastic experience on the whole trip. You gotta celebrate life milestones somehow and this was one heck of an experience!

      How did you like your first time in Vegas?

  3. Whoa! This is super cool! Thank God there was no flight attendant kicking you off, like all the nonsense happening lately. That’s really classy! How friggin Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
    xo, Maria |

  4. I don’t think there are any 747’s in service out of any of the regional airports in the Gulf. I did have a very luxurious experience on a Business Class flight to Malaysia last month, bought for half price on the Qatar airways sale last year. 180 degree reclining seats that were much more comfortable than I expected and very personalised cabin service. This flight had no first class so we were rather spoilt.

  5. That looks so luxurious! Sadly I am completed terrified of flying, so this will probably never happen for me. But congrats! It always feels good to cross something off your bucket list!

  6. Hi James,

    Inspired stuff! We just flew a huge plane fitting almost 400 folks from Manila to NYC. Nothing with an upper deck though. That is older school, 747 style. Love the view up to the 2nd floor. Truly epic, to think planes that big exist. What a view too, eh?

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


  7. This would have been an incredible experience! I definitely want to add something like this to my bucket list. Sometimes I think older planes are better because they were made more spacious than today’s planes! The food looks great too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  8. I would have loved this, too! What an amazing way to fly! I was delirious when I got upgraded last year from Paris to Washington DC. Flying Business Class was my best flying experience to date!

  9. This sounds really amazing James! I have hardly travelled in upper deck (except over a short flight in A380) and to do that in a Boeing 747 looks like quite an experience 🙂

  10. Really interesting! I only got the chance one to fly LHR-LAX on an upper deck on BA – but I was ground crew for another airline at the time and this was back in the days when airline staff looked after each other. It was a great experience – but no flat beds like they do now!
    Looks like you had fun!

  11. I have been fortunate enough to fly on the upper deck too and I felt the same thing you did. You feel like it’s the only way to fly right? Very hard going back to economy after that, am I right? Your meal looked great and glad you enjoyed that champagne. 10 hours is a good amount of time to settle in and enjoy the service too I would think.

  12. This looks like a bucket list worthy experience! But it’s also one of rare times when you actually want the flight to be longer 🙂 I don’t think I ever wanted that

  13. WOW! This looks so cool!! I feel like this would be a flight where my flying anxiety would be distracted by the personal and “small” experience of the private area! How cool!

  14. It is totally cool isn’t it? But it makes it so hard to go back to cattle class again after this kind of experience. I adore the 747s and of course, who doesn’t love business and first class travel, right?

  15. I would definitely love flying like this, I’ve never tried. It doesn’t really bother me what airline I use, but gosh, I would love to experience this.

  16. Hmmm I just shut my eyes for a second and pretended that was me riding in the upper deck 😀 – You’ve made me a little jealous haha – One day that will be me in the upper deck. P.s I would definitely be like a little kid in a sweet shop too.

  17. I can see why this a bucket list trip. The food and service look divine. Maybe one day I’ll splurge and do the same (or better yet,weave it into the cost of a business trip)

  18. Now THIS is the way to travel! I wish I had the money to do this! I’m going to splurge on this on a huge trip in the future. Maybe an anniversary!

  19. WOW ! Every time I fly I try to imagine what’s happening on the upper desk haha 🙂
    I love how comfortable and luxurious it looks like. After such a flight you don’t probably have any jet lag or not even tired 🙂
    I would like to try the first class one day or even business 🙂


  20. Wow this looks amazing. I can see why it was on your bucket list. I don’t think I could ever afford to fly 1st class, but I always hope and pray that I get bumped up one day!

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