Vintage Airline Seat Map: American Airlines Boeing 707-323

Inspired by seeing Pan Am’s 707 take to the skies on television this past Sunday, I bring you another Boeing 707 for this installment of Vintage Airline Seat Maps. The American Airlines 707-323C appearing below isn’t hugely different from the -123 version I posted earlier this year, but I still find it fun to note the differences.

This aircraft is eight feet longer than its predecessor and boasts an impressive range (for the time period) of 5,100 statute miles. American’s configuration saw 14 seats in First Class and 133 in coach. I wish the seat pitch figures were published on this map as I can basically guarantee coach was in the 36” to 38” range.

Always preferring to be away from the galley, you’d find me in row four or five in First Class and probably row nine or 10 in coach for a great forward view of the scenery and to geek out over the wing and engines. Row 22 looks ideal for couples, however, so might be drawn to those if I had a traveling companion.

Where would you sit?

Image courtesy American Airlines

Comments

  1. Interesting how there’s plenty of movie screens. I assume projection, right? Where could I find some more info on these and perhaps photos?

  2. Great fun!! (I think row 6 is still first class.)
    The movie screen notes are hilarious. I may be wrong here, but on those days, I think that the movie’s plastic film was run from the head-end, through a series of optical projectors, a VERY long mechanical loop that displayed from zone to zone and with different audio zones as well. Physical film breaks wer common and here endith the movie – we’re very sorry. Breaks were quite common and with no in-flight repair possible, so PAX were just SOL. In the end, not a whole lot has really changed. Many lines and fleets tout the IFE systems and connectivity, but virtually none are fleet-wide. Really good and reliably functional IFE remains quite rare and connectivity and/or power even more unusual. As the fleet is renewed, improvements happen, but retro-fits are far too expensive for most carriers. Many arriers live to advertise their IFE and connectivity offerings. In most cases, you won’t see it, save the random new airplane or some test-bed aircraft. The *vast* majority of the US domestic fleet, even the majors on long runs, is old chairs that fly. So sayeth I! -C.

  3. The movies were indeed on real film! I used to be a Flight Engineer on those airplanes back in the late 1970’s, and during the preflight phase a person from the company that we contracted with for the movies came aboard with a BIG reel of movie film – around 3 feet in diameter as I recall, with 16 mm film. This went into a master unit in the rear of the plane up in the overhead, from whence the film snaked its way up the right side of the aircraft and then back down the left side. The movie screens were actually in the PSU units above each row of seats, not centered in the aisle as you might be led to believe by the seat diagram.

    Each screen was it’s own rear projection unit, and so the film went from one to another until finally winding up (pun intended) on another big reel in the back. This reel was offloaded at destination when the new one was brought on board, and probably taken back to the vendor for rewinding and set up.

    Since each screen was its own projector, the scene on each one was different from the others, and you could watch the same bit a number of times just by looking at the different screens! As I said, it started in the rear on the right side and went up the right side, then down the left. It took almost a minute for the scene you watched on the rear right screen (first one the film got to) to be repeated on the rear left screen across the aisle from you. Of course, a certain group of seats had the sound sync’d to each particular projector so that you got to hear what the closest screen was showing.

    We still had that system on the 707’s until at least around 1980 or so. Most likely because it would have been costly to replace it with a TV system since the handwriting was on the wall for the 707’s upcoming departure from the fleet. As Flight Engineer I had nothing to do with the upkeep of it, which was just as well since we were taught nothing about it! As cedarglen says, the film did break occasionally (although in my experience this was more rare than he alludes)and unless one of the vendor technicians happened to be on board on vacation or something like that everyone was indeed out of luck!

    Tony Vallillo
    Captain, American Airlines(ret)

  4. This is an awesome find. My very first airplane flight was on an AA 707 exactly like this in 1979 when I was 12 on a flight from LAX-IAD, and I remember it like it was yesterday. We were suppose to be on a DC-10 but, because of the grounding from the ORD crash that Memorial Day, this was our aircraft instead, and I’m so glad for that. At the time I was mad because I wanted to fly on a widebody, but looking back of course, this was my one and only time flying a 707. Wish I could remember what seat we were in. I’m guess around row 12 on the port side.

  5. I believe the absence of two seats at row 22 was due to the presence of additional emergency exits at that row. At TWA, where I was a flight attendant, some of our 707s had this additional pair of exits; some didn’t. They were always armed and operated similar to the JetEscape exits on the DC8.

    • I collect 1:200 diecast model airplanes and have a 707-320C Continental Intercontinental Golden Jet. On the model, I see a small emergency exit door on each side, just to the rear of the wings.

      I always have a fond memory of the 707. My first jet flight was on a Northwest Orient 707 back in 1968 at the age of 10. My family flew from Chicago O’Hare to Anchorage to Tokyo. There were no movies and the trip took 11 hours. A year later, we flew back on a Pan Am 707 from Tokyo to Honolulu, spent a day and night there, then flew on a Pan AM 707 to LA and then an American 707 to JFK.

      As a 10 year old it was so awesome to fly on such a large plane. Actually, in 1968 flying on any plane was special. I remember staring endlessly out of the window, I think from seat 7A, at the wing and the 2 jet engines. My family was from Albany, NY and nothing as large as a 707 would ever be seen there. That trip was the last time I saw a 707 and didn’t fly again until 1980, when I left Albany for the Army. I’ve flown on many planes since that trip to Japan and none of them have nearly been as special.

      • Hi Scott,

        Thanks for your comment. I’m jealous you flew on one! Like you did then, I still to this day gaze out the windows… there’s always something fascinating to see.

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