The jumbo disco that didn’t fly

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December 18, 2017
Disco mock-up for the DC10
Disco publicity shot in the mock-up of the DC-10 cabin.

Anyone for a jumbo disco – or a gym session to work off that meal?

They were just some of the crazy – and not so crazy ideas – that aircraft manufacturers came up with to sell the virtues of new jumbo designs that promised room to move.

Some, like the disco, were discounted with a smile but others, like a downstairs lounge, were given a shot.

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McDonnell Douglas, now part of Boeing,  has to take the prize for the most bizarre suggestions to make it into mock-up form.

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It touted the disco for its DC-10 in 1970 and followed that up with a gym for its proposed super jumbo in MD-12 in 1991.

Gym on the MD-12 super jumbo mock-up
Gym on the MD-12 super jumbo mock-up. Boeing Historical Archives

Interestingly, the then Korean Air president dismissed the gym and said on his airline’s aircraft there would be a mahjong parlor instead!

The manufacturer also touted a business office on its MD-12.

However, the four-engine MD-12 never made it past mock-up stage.

McDonnell Douglas also proposed a downstairs passengers deck on its three-engine MD-11. Called the Panorama deck, it  would have afforded a great view of the countryside below.

Panorama Deck on MD-11
Panorama Deck on the MD-11. Boeing Historical Archives

However, the costs of strengthening the fuselage in case of a wheels-up landing killed off the idea.

Boeing is also guilty of some crazy ideas.

The 747 downstairs Tiger Lounge made for great photos – but was never taken up.

Downstairs Tiger Lounge on the Boeing 747
Downstairs Tiger Lounge on the Boeing 747. Boeing Historical Archives

Not content with one try,  Boeing rolled out the downstairs “Austin Powers Lounge” under the floor some 20 years before Austin Powers was made famous by Mike Myers in 1997.

Austin Powers Lounge on the 747
The “Austin Powers” lounge 20 years before Austin Powers was made famous. Boeing Historical Archives

Boeing also looked at putting windows in the roof of its 747-8I series in an effort to make it more appealing.

Windows in the roof of a 747
Boeing proposed windows in the roof of its 747-8.

Also, a business class club made it into the roof of the 747-8I as well as sleeping cabins – but only in mock-up form.

Business Class Lounge in the roof of a 747
Business Class Lounge in the roof of the 747 – but only in mockup form.

Only the Airbus concepts of a large bar and showers for the A380 have made it into reality.

Emirates, the champion of the A380 with 100 in service has a sensational bar in the upper rear cabin for premium passengers along with showers for first class up forward.

One Airbus concept that didn’t get past the mock-up stage was the duty-free shop.

Duty Free shop A380
The Duty Free shop never made it on board any A380. Airbus

The challenge for airlines is that the demand for lower and lower fares means that space is at a premium – and you have to be paying premium fares to enjoy it.