KLM 747s – Bucket List Item Left Unfulfilled

I have done some posts about the retirements of 747s by a number of airlines. So far I have covered ANA, British Airways, and China Airlines. This time I am going to cover KLM.

I think I used KLM 747s on about three occasions. The main reason for using them was that, living in Cardiff, it was possible to take a flight from Cardiff to Amsterdam to pick up a long haul service from there. Most of the flights, like most flights, on the KLM 747s were unremarkable and get merged (or forgotten completely) with all the various other flying experiences I have had (see another post on some flights I do remember). I do remember one time coming back from Japan and there being a delay due to snow. Somehow I made the connection for the flight onto Cardiff, despite having only about 20 minutes to spare – but my luggage didn’t & I had to wait another two days for it to be delivered (which I still don’t understand, given the number of daily flights between Amsterdam and Cardiff).

As I mentioned above, usually if I took KLM is was due to being able to go from Cardiff airport rather than Heathrow (although I prefer to use Heathrow most times). One time, however, I took KLM for a different reason. I was being paid to fly out to Japan & was allowed to go Business Class. As part of this role, I’d deliberately taken a few different airlines over a couple of years to experience the differences. But this time I wanted to take KLM as I knew it would be one of my last chances to not only experience Business Class with someone else paying, but, more than that, I knew that the Business Class on KLM 747s was on the Upper Deck and KLM was going to be ending its 747 services to Japan.

In my view, travelling on the Upper Deck of a 747 is the best place to fly on any plane. I have experienced it a few times – it was economy on some services (including on my return flight from my first visit to Hong Kong when I was on Cathay. My main memory from that flight, other than the space on the Upper Deck, was that a couple (strangers?) took advantage of the extra space and lack of people in the section to get to know each other intimately). My favourite aspect of the Upper Deck is that, if you were by the window, you had an additional luggage holder by your seat (next to the window) to put your things in, rather than having to have it all over-head or squeezed into the seat-back pocket. Perfect for someone who wants access to a PC and camera (and different lenses) during a flight.

I cannot remember specifics of the final KLM 747 flights I did – other than getting a small gift that you get in Business Class on KLM – only that it was great to have the experience of the Upper Deck again before it was too late.

Of course, like most people, I didn’t take any pictures of the inside of the plane. But, as I would usually get to Narita well before I need to, I have managed to get pictures of the in-coming KLM 747 (whether I took it or another service leaving at about the same time later that day).

One thing that will never get crossed off my bucket list due to KLM retiring its 747s is getting a picture of one of the planes landing at Maho Beach. While other large planes still continue to use this airport – it’s just not the same. Here is an example of the image I would love to have got.

Source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/klm-sint-maarten (article about the last KLM 747 to land at Sint Maarten)

While I will never get a shot like the one above, at least I did, as mentioned before, get shots of KLM 747s at Narita. Here are some examples.

You can see other photos I have taken at Narita Airport here, and others taken near Narita Airport here.

Of course, I cannot do a post about KLM 747s without mentioning that terrible tragedy that happened at Tenerife Airport on 27 March 1977 – where one of the two 747s involved was a KLM one.

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