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This week, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig is reporting live from the Paris Air Show. Today, he’s looking at the oldest airliner on display at Le Bourget.
Once you pay for admission to Le Bourget airport, most of the attractions at the Paris Air Show are free. This one is not. Attendees (and anyone else — it’s open year-round) pay €8 (about $9) to enter a poorly maintained relic of yesteryear. At the Paris Air Show, fancy new airliners come and go, but the airport’s Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace (Air and Space Museum) is a constant from year to year.
The main attraction is a former Air France 747-100 that first flew in 1973. It was retired in 2000 and has been parked at this airfield just outside Paris ever since. The exterior looks decent enough, but unfortunately it’s a dump inside, with torn upholstery, sparse exhibits and creepy mannequins dressed as flight attendants. You’ll probably be through the plane in less than five minutes, so I’ll spare you the 9 bucks and show you what you’re not missing.
Your first view of the 747 after climbing the air stairs. The windows haven’t been washed in ages — I did my best to clean this up in Photoshop.
The highlight of the plane: First class in the 747’s nose. Believe it or not, these seats are relatively recent (note the fold-out TV at the bottom right). Not a terrible way to fly, but hardly acceptable by today’s standards.
Then there’s just a bunch of empty space between the nose and the seats behind (you can see the spiral staircase above, but unfortunately the upper deck is off-limits). You do get an idea of just how wide the 747 is, though — I wouldn’t mind having this as my living room.
More first-class seats — all the “well maintained” seats are hidden behind glass. These probably haven’t been touched in years.
If you think you don’t get much legroom now, you might be relieved to see that things weren’t any better in the ’90s. And instead of power ports, every seat gets an ashtray.
This is what a 747 looks like without a floor or ceiling. So much room to stretch out!
The 747 is wide enough to transport little French cars in the cargo compartment. And pets, too. 🙁
The retired 747 is home to raggedy seats, someone’s unwanted car and past-their-prime mannequins. Also this pigeon.
After you’re done, you can enjoy a trade show kebab under the tail. Poor 747. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
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