The first Lufthansa Douglas DC-10 was delivered on 12 November 1973, part of an initial order for four aircraft. Services began in January 1974 and these planes were bought to fly thinner routes to South America. Soon after arriving five more were ordered and eventually there was a fleet of 11.
Despite its reputation for falling out of the sky, the Long Beach manufactured jet served Lufthansa for over 20 years without incident. When it was introduced, it had a special feature that is worth exploring.
Gepäckcontainer auf dem Passagierdeck
Looking at a page from a brochure issued about the new aircraft, nothing initially seems amiss. The seating plan is one of the better ones, which shows all the passenger windows in addition to all the usual things, like the placement of the seats and toilets.
However, upon closer inspection something strange seems to be happening down the back. The German speaking among us will know the heading I used above means “Baggage container on the passenger deck”.
As you can see, there are 12 container positions there, and they were sized to fit through the rear passenger door. You will even notice that there is an aisle between them for passengers and crew to get to the rear galleys and toilets.
Why Is The Lufthansa Douglas DC-10 Like This?
The theory goes that by locating these baggage containers on the main deck, there is more space in the cargo hold for paying freight. As the aircraft were to be operated on thinner routes, more passenger seats were unnecessary. Lufthansa reckoned they’d make more money from the cargo than extra people.
Of course, the containers were locked to the floor and were screened off from the passengers. Still, it must have been interesting for those going to and from the tail area.
Who knew the Lufthansa Douglas DC-10 had special baggage containers in the rear cabin? It was certainly news to me! I don’t know how long they remained for, but it’s probably quite likely they were replaced by standard passenger seats.
Regardless, it’s great to see an accurate seat map from back in the day. Baggage containers notwithstanding, it certainly looks like people had more space per person in their seats.
Did you ever fly on the Lufthansa Douglas DC-10 and see this? What do you think of the concept? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Torsten Maiwald on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Brochure image via 744lover on Airliners.net.
Lufthansa DC-10 by clipperarctic on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.
KLM flew a similar “747 Combi” as recently as 2019. There are video reviews of the plane on YouTube, if you’re interested
Yes, the 747 Combi was fairly common, with South African Airways and Qantas also operating this among others. This DC-10 thing was not quite as common as the 747. I never did fly on the 747 Combi, though I wish I had. Thanks for that!
Alitalia operated a similar layout in winter between Rome and Montreal/ Toronto. Since they needed less capacity in the winter months they used the rear of the DC10 for cargo. The back of the plane was walled off with an aisle down the right side to access washrooms in the rear of the aircraft. Flew on it a number of times.
Thanks for the information there, I had no idea that Alitalia did something similar. Appreciate that!
Is that 2-5-2 seating in economy?
It is – I think both the DC-10 and L-1011 had the same 2-5-2 seating down the back. Not something you see anymore!
AA had 2-5-2 on the 777 as recently as about 10 years ago. Much preferred over the 3-3-3 that replaced it on some airlines and the 3-4-3 they have now! Only one double-blocked seat per row (vs both windows) and effectively 2-2-2-2 when not at capacity and the middles were open. A family of 4 could often get the whole middle too, and couples had the pairs.
I don’t think I’ve ever flown on an aircraft with 2-5-2 actually.