When Philippine Airlines decided to replace their Douglas DC-10 fleet, they selected the Boeing 747-200B. Uniquely, they decided to provide actual beds for First Class passengers on the upper deck of the aircraft.
These entered service in 1980, which was quite late to the party in some respects, as special upper deck features were on the way out. Most airlines were filling the upstairs space with revenue generating seats and things like the Pan Am upper deck dining room and the Captain Cook lounges on Qantas were in the past.
Philippine Airlines Skybed
Passengers travelling up front on board the new Boeing 747 at Philippine Airlines had a choice of six Siesta Seats, or one of the 14 standard First Class seats. Upstairs there were 14 Skybeds which were fitted with seatbelts, so you could sleep through take-off and landing, very handy for the multi-stop flights of the time. I am doubtful many would sleep well during those phases of flight though!
One would expect the standard seats came with the option to sleep upstairs, as the numbers match. The Siesta Seats seem designed for sleeping in the actual First Class cabin itself. Knowing me, I’d probably have liked to try both, to see which I prefer. Either way, it seems the first flat beds on jet airliners are right here.
Boeing 747-200B Seat Map
Whether you refer it as a seat map, a seating plan or a LOPA (if you’re in the industry!), it is all the same thing. Happily I was able to find a copy online showing this unique configuration.
The fourteen berths are laid out three along each side of the upper deck, and eight in the middle. The middle ones are bunk bed style with both upper and lower berths. Note the straight staircase leading upstairs as opposed to the usual spiral one installed on this aircraft type.
Also of note are the six Siesta Seats in the nose downstairs featuring 65″ of pitch, 24 inches more than the other First Class seats. Today, you will find that Premium Economy generally features about 40″ between seat rows, which is what is here in standard First Class. How far we’ve come!
Advertising The Service
Naturally the airline’s public relations department went bananas over the new product. The ad below states, ‘… and now the first airline in the world to offer 14 full length stretch-out beds – “our Skybeds.” For the first time on any airline, First Class passengers can be in bed dozing off while we’re taking off. Or landing. It’s the very last word in overnight accommodation on the very last word in 747’s.’
The other one refers to it as ‘our “Cloud Nine” service’ and it was around for quite some time. Apparently the upper deck remained configured with the beds all the way through to the 1990s.
As these were available for so long, Philippine Airlines is one of the last airlines to keep something special upstairs on the 747. Only Belgium’s Sabena kept the space as a lounge for longer.
I would have loved to have tried these beds, with their foam-rubber mattresses, pillows and blankets. Lighting was kept dark to facilitate sleep and reading lights were also provided. It must have been some experience!
Did you ever fly in the Philippine Airlines Skybed in the Cloud Nine room upstairs in the jumbo jet? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.