Last Thursday I was one of about 30 passengers on the final scheduled commercial service of a DC-10 aircraft. The plane, operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines, is being removed from service and as of today there are none flying in regular commercial passenger service. There are still a bunch operating as cargo freighters and a few in charter service but unless you list in the US Army or get a job with FedEx odds are you won’t be flying on the type ever again. The trip was amazing and I’ll have a full trip report with tons of photos and stories coming up soon enough; I still need to recover from the jetlag the 5-day RTW in coach left me afflicted with to be able to get that story to a coherent state.
But today – Monday, February 24, 2014 – will see the final flights for which Biman sold tickets. There are three scenic flights today departing Birmingham, UK then looping around for an hour or so before finally landing. The final flight sold out pretty quickly and I know a few people who are going to be on it. Alas, I’m in the office today saving up cash to pay for the next adventure so I won’t be there. But I had a ton of fun on the party flight I booked and collected a bunch of goodies whilst on board, enough to make a goodie pack to give away to one lucky reader. It includes some unique Biman DC-10 memorabilia not available anywhere else, plus one of the DC-10 models they were selling as part of the final flight celebration (more or less what’s shown in the photo, plus or minus a couple things as I finish unpacking).
So, if you want a chance to win just leave a comment below telling me one of your favorite memories of flying on an older wide-body plane. If you don’t have a memory which fits then come up with something else creative to share. Tell a short story of some sort. I always enjoy reading about the experiences y’all have had, probably even more than I love writing about my own. I’ll choose a winner at 6pm EST on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.
I always remember flying these on family trips to Florida. This was ages ago, but i’ll never forget going in as a kid with my siblings and parents.
I am envious, Seth. I look forward to reading your trip report.
When I was 7, the AA earbuds didn’t fit in my ear, when flying JFK-SFO on a 767-200, so my dad got some tape from the FA and taped them to my ears. When it was time to order drinks, I didn’t want to take the earbuds out, and I was talking too loud, so the FA ripped the earbuds out of my ear. It hurt!!
This may be a strange and unexpected one, but my most powerful DC-10 association is with the Air New Zealand flight 901 DC-10 accident, because I was living in Lower Hutt, New Zealand at the time and knew someone who was on the plane. It was meant to be an amazing excursion that ended very badly. It is referred to as the Mount Erebus disaster.
My most memorable old wide body experience was flying on an L10-11. The plane was massive given our passenger load – 12 in coach (yes, 12!) I had not only my entire row completely to myself, but also the row ahead and the row behind. The route was LAX-SLC; it’s no wonder that it’s served by a CR200 these days.
I flew on a DC-10 only once that I can remember. On United from PHX-ORD, the first leg on a high school trip to Europe. I still remember being so excited that the flight was on a widebody, and that quite a few of the center bins fell open on touchdown.
My fav. memory of an old widebody was flying from Bangkok to the old Kai-Tak airport in Hong Kong onboard the Thai A300B4 when I was 7 or 8 years old. About one hour before landing the air hostess comes up to me and asks if I want to visit the flight deck and of course I did! To my surprise it was actually my father who was captain on the flight and both my parents had managed to keep this a secret to me. I was allowed to sit in during the landing and I still clearly remember the checkboard approach and being able to see what was hanging on the clothes lines beneath us. To date one of my best jumpseat experiences if not THE best.
I haven’t been on a DC-10, but I flew on an sweet MD-11 a loooong time ago when I first moved to the US. The route was a BEL-MIA direct on old Varig Brazilian Airlines, and it was an amazing experience. It was the excitement of moving here, plus being in this huge and mostly empty plane. I got to visit the cockpit too! And the one funny thing is that people still were allowed to smoke on planes back then. Interesting times!
My “best” (or maybe most vivid is a better term) memory of flying on an old wide body airliner was in the late 90s, on a Northwest 747-200 from Amsterdam to the US. The flight itself was quite uneventful, but as an inexperienced traveler at the time (about 8 years old) I didn’t like the food they served, and decided not to eat for the entire duration of the flight. Not smart, any seasoned traveler will be able to tell me or anyone else, unless you want to become air sick. So of course, the inevitable happened. I got sick, and in stead of reaching for the barf bag, I grabbed the Asian business man (at least he was wearing a suit) seated next to me, and puked all over him. I still, to this day, feel very very bad for this man.
This story can be verified by my mom who was sitting in the other seat next to me. Yes. I was in a middle seat. Maybe that’s the most horrifying about this story after all?
A LONG LONG time ago when I was VERY VERY young….I flew a PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) DC-10 between London and Karachi… I even have a postcard somewhere in an attic from the flight…
My favorite happened in Frankfurt when my incoming flight was late; thought I’d missed my connection, but I found airport staff who arranged for me to be driven out to the apron next to the runway where the Delta L-1011 was waiting….they pushed up stairs to the aircraft, I boarded, buckled up, and in moments we took off for London!
Ahhh… I remember my first flight on an L1011… But first, a little background as to why the L1011 was so significant to me. As a child growing up, my exposure to airplanes was when we would drive through Atlanta and I would see all of the Delta L1011s lined up, and my biggest desire in life at that time was to fly on one of those. Fast forward 15 years (give or take), and I have been flying every couple of weeks to a client for my very first job on the same flight every time, usually a DL 767 between ATL-ORD on that leg of my CAE-ORD commutes. On my very last trip home at the end of that project, I take a Saturday flight home instead of a Friday flight home in order to give myself a little more time and deal with all of the extra luggage I am bringing home from my corporate apartment without fighting so many crowds.
So, I arrive at my gate, and lo and behold, there is an L1011 sitting there instead of the usual 767. I was floored and incredibly excited. My last trip for that project and probably my last trip for a while until my next full time client engagement, and it is on an L1011. The airplane that had really solidified my love of commercial aviation as a child, my fantasy aircraft, is sitting at the gate. Even better, I got upgraded to first class and had seat 1B (I believe). I could not believe how massive the first class cabin was on that aircraft. I could stretch my legs all the way out in front of me and not even reach the bulkhead wall.
It was a short flight, but still a total thrill for me. I’ll never forget that first experience with an L1011.
Brian, I’m jealous of your L-1011. I chased that type for over a year with Delta when I first started traveling some for work in 2000. I knew Delta was retiring them, and unfortunately, never was able to get a flight on one, due to schedule and fare restrictions.
My story involves the DC-10. There were several domestic flights on Continental in the very late 1990s when I was booked on one of their DC-10s, but in every case, something happened that caused me to end up on another flight, missing the DC-10. Usually there was a weather or maintenance delay, and Continental was able to rebook us home to IAH on another flight, often a 727. In those days my one and only widebody flight had been a Delta 767-200 on DFW-MCO in 1991, so I was always excited by the prospect of one of these Continental DC-10 flights, and always disappointed to see it not happen.
Fast forward a couple of years to late August, 2001. One of my best friends had planned a trip over Labor Day Weekend to Los Angeles with a girl he was dating. About 10 days before the trip, things turned sour, and she pulled out of the trip. He still wanted to go to LA, but not alone, and talked me into buying a ticket and going with him. I had a $100 off coupon from one of the old OnePass Prestige Packs, which I was able to apply to the ticket, dropping the fare to something reasonable. I also saw that a DC-10 was operating IAH-LAX on the Saturday morning we were scheduled to travel. He already had a ticket on United via DEN, and the DC-10 flight was scheduled to arrive at LAX only 45 minutes before his DEN-LAX flight. It was perfect timing.
Things only got better. I had been a OnePass Silver Elite for about three months at the time – my first foray into the world of elite status. On Thursday morning, I awoke to find an email from Continental giving me one of my first complimentary elite upgrades, to a BusinessFirst seat on the DC-10 flight. I couldn’t have been more excited, as I’d never flown a DC-10, nor had I ever flown in an international premium class seat; domestic first on a handful of flights had been as good as I’d experienced before that time.
The flight itself was wonderful. We departed IAH early on a very rainy Saturday morning. Even the first generation BusinessFirst seat was amazingly comfortable, and my seatmate was an older lady whose husband was a Platinum elite. He had given her his seat and was sitting in the back. She was super fun to talk to, and gave me lots of tips about things to see and do in LA; at the time of this trip, I’d only visited the city once before, and that was for work. I still remember the excellent lunch – warm nuts, a small pizza with Italian wedding soup, followed by an ice cream sundae. At the time, it was the best flight I had ever experienced, by far.
That was Labor Day Weekend, 2001. At the time, Continental was slowing replacing the DC-10 fleet with a mix of 777s and 767s, but was planning to keep the DC-10s around until at least late 2002/early 2003 – and there was serious talk they might hang around until 2004-2005 because the airline was doing so well with its international expansion. Little did any of us know how drastically our world, and the airline industry, would change just a few days later. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, all of the airlines announced fleet retirements and route cancellations to cut their losses as they tried to survive the sudden evaporation of air travel demand that followed. Continental’s DC-10 fleet was one of the casualties, and barely a month after I flew the type, they were gone. I never got to fly the type again, and had my friend’s sort-of girlfriend not dumped him, I probably never would have flown it at all.
Oooooh … where do I start … You said ‘widebody’, so I’m tempted to pull in The King – the L-1011, which I have many good (and bad) experiences with, but it’s probably more appropriate with a DC-10 story.
My first ride was as a young and aviation inexperienced student back around 1981-82. I had bought a cheap air ticket from Athens to Copenhagen and the airline was Pakistan International. The flight was supposed to be in the middle of the night, but was delayed a few hours due to an unexplained technical problem. We took off into the morning sun and made our way to Rome for a scheduled stop. On approach, I noticed the cracled voice over the PA announced ‘In a few minutes, we will be landing in Rome, insh Allah.’ I didn’t think much of it, but as he repeated the announcement before we landed in Copenhagen some hours later, I asked my seatmate what ‘insh Allah’ meant. Very seriously, he informed me that it means ‘if God will’ – so there went my confidence in the flight crew out the window … I was not a great fan of flying at the time, and that did nothing to improve the situation.
Apart from that, the flight was a quite pleasant experience. The food was .. interesting.. and I remember that I was very surprised to find a highly modern and hip music channel with some of the best ‘alternative’ rock music of the time, among others a couple of tracks from Talking Heads and other popular bands in that genre. I was very impressed by that.
Oh, and it’s my birthday today! 😉
Birthday and a random winner…hooray!!
I’ll be in touch via email to get your contact info and send along the goodie bag.
My first trip to London on Virgin Atlantic flying out of JFK. I think it was a 747-400, I remember walking onboard, and seeing the grey leather seats of first class, kind’ve casually placed rather than structured rows like economy. It was the first time I had been on a 747, and, as a teenager, I recall being amazed at how much open space there was, compared to what I was used to on a plane.
My favorite memory of a flight on an older widebody? Moscow Sheremetyevo to Salzburg on an Aeroflot Il-96-300 in business class a few years back. Departure was around 5:45am, if I recall, and we were the only passengers in business class (seats comparable to regular domestic F in the US). Started drinking champagne onboard pre-departure, and landed in Salzburg pretty tipsy as the sun was coming up. Then proceeded to get a lot more tipsy over the next two days thanks to the wonderful adult Disneyworld that is the Augustiner.
My uncle was a pilot for AA from 1966 to 1993 (a first officer at first, of course, and later a captain). He was the FO on the first AA 747 flight into BOS, where we lived. That was in about 1971, when I was 9. I didn’t get to fly on the flight, but we met it at the gate and I got the grand tour of the plane and all its cabins, lounges, etc. right away. (They didn’t turn planes around quickly in those days.) Probably the most avgeek day of my life.
But Uncle John always loved the DC-10 best. It was far and away his favorite plane to fly, and it’s what he flew into LAX on his retirement flight the day he turned 60. It’s hard to believe that was more than 20 years ago – and that the type remained in service this long!
I always enjoyed the Northwest Airlines DC-10’s, as the rumble of the take-off was just so awesome! They will be missed !
Back in the pre-deregulation days, I used to fly SAN-LAX for $8 on a largely empty AA DC10.
I also remember flying to Hawaii on a CO bird and enjoying THE PUB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0ah8kg6nQ0
My memories are of puking my guts out when I was a kid. Always got sicker than a dog on prop planes. Jets were the best thing ever, I actually started looking forward to vacations.
I worked those planes 5 days a week as a gate agent in HNL. The best CO DC-10 story I have is when GUM was towing one of the 10s up to their gates. Somehow the plane jumped the wheel chalks (or perhaps the ramper failed to chock the tires), rolled backwards thru the airport fencing and leaped onto a Navy house. Boeing had to send people to help remove the plane from on top of the house and repair it back into service. Several days later, again in GUM, as they were towing another DC-10 around the airport, they managed to get too close to another DC-10 and had a “minor” incident. The wing of the towed aircraft cut into the other -10 underneath the cockpit area. Once again Boeing had to send more mechanics to fix a few more planes. 3 planes knocked out of service, within a week. Fun times.
My favorite memory is flying to Hawaii with my parents in this aircraft. Good times.
I grew up in Taipei and when I moved to the States — we traveled extensively between the East Coast and Asia. We were fiercely loyal to NWA and always flew through NRT/KIX on a DC-10. My very first time flying NWA, I was fairly young and the flight attendant noticed I was alone in coach and moved me up to first class to keep an eye on me. Then upon arriving in NRT I was escorted from the gate to the NWA Worldclub lounge and got spoiled by the lounge staff upon arrival then got driven to the departure gate and put in first class again on the NRT-TPE route. Since I have a baby face I tried this “minors traveling alone” schtick a few more times and managed to get free upgrades by acting lost and confused. I associate a lot of these memories with the legendary trijet in NWA livery. I guess you could say I was balling out in first class with concierge service while Lucky was still grounded at the same age!
I have no idea which airlines or what aircraft, but my first international flight was in 1976 at age 8 to Hong Kong. I remember waking up in the middle of the flight (and night – it was dark) in Anchorage for refueling.
I remember the first flights of American Airlines’ DC-10-10’s from Chicago to Rochester and then on to Syracuse (70’s). My first flight was on the Rochester to Syracuse leg and what an aircraft to fly on for your first flight, spoiled a bit. After that short flight I was sold and have loved civil aviation (really all things with wings) ever since. Loved reading about your travels on BG.
I will never forget United DC-10 flights from IAH to LAX many years ago. Those were my first experiences flying. I felt like a “king.”
Business class on a BA 747. It felt like a flying dormitory.
When I was quite young (prob. around 9-10), my family went on a trip to London, England, which is to date my only out-of-North-America travel experience. I don’t remember the type of plane, but I do remember the hell we went through at Calgary International to get the airline to give us a room despite it being a weather delay. To make things worse, my younger sister still needed a carseat, which was checked in the hold. We ended up with meal vouchers and a hotel room for all of 8 hours (after an afternoon of “customer service”), but none of us were able to sleep anyways.
I recall flying on a widebody from EWR-LAX in the 1980s or early 1990s. Can’t exactly remember if it was a DC-10 or A300, just that it had two aisles. I remember upon landing in LAX, the touchdown was so smooth that the passengers clapped. The pilot then got on the PA and announced that there was another captain on board the flight, and then said, “How’d you like that landing Captain [xxx]? Eat your heart out!” Everyone got a good laugh out of that 🙂
Oh wow, I don’t remember what plane it was because I didn’t know anything about planes at the time but it was on a World Airways charter flight in 1984 from Los Angeles to Manila (I think they were using DC-10s back then, so that could very well be what it was). This was so exciting because it was my first trip across the Pacific Nothing like crossing a wide ocean in the air and then approaching an island nation for the first time. And service was great, between that and the excitement didn’t mind at all being stuck in a cramped economy seat.
Comments are closed.