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  • Writer's pictureAnne Heintz

The Gift of Travel: It Started on an Iconic Jet

Boeing announces that it will no longer build the 747 after 2022. The jumbo aircraft was an engineering marvel that opened travel to the masses and set a 14-year old girl on the journey of a lifetime!

By: Anne Heintz

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I was a history major in college. I came to realize that most people view history in one of two ways.

The first is history that occurred before you were born. This is the kind of history you simply read about in books or online. You know it’s important… and while many times it’s moving... it’s still history. Plus, the fact that it repeats itself is ever so poignant!

Then there is the history that happens in your lifetime. This is different because it intersects with your personal life. For my parents’ generation, the best example of this is Pearl Harbor. For my generation, it’s the assassination of JFK. For my children’s generation, it’s 9/11.

Those are the most obvious examples, but when you think about it, we’re reminded of this kind of personal intersection with history more often than we realize.

For me, it happened when I read a story about the Boeing 747. Last summer Boeing announced that it would discontinue production of the 747 in 2022. We all knew this would eventually happen, but the pandemic sped up its demise.

The Wall Street Journal called the Boeing 747 “an engineering marvel that defied gravity, tantalized travelers with luxurious cabin space and opened intercontinental travel to the masses by making cheap fares plentiful.”

As I read the eulogy for this magnificent aircraft, I came to realize that she played an important role in making me who I am today.

The 747’s maiden voyage was in 1969, with the first passenger flight being operated by Pan American in January 1970. Two years later, I boarded a United Airlines 747 at Chicago’s O’Hare bound for Honolulu. I was traveling with my Mom and one of my brothers. I was 14 and this was my first trip outside the continental United States.

Just boarding the aircraft made me feel special. It was big. It was beautiful. It was majestic. The passengers were dressed up and they were happy.

Of course, it also helped that my Mom sprung for first class… spiral staircase and all! My brother snapped this picture of me in the upstairs lounge. I can't remember what I was eating at the time. It didn't matter. I was in heaven... or at least close to it!

A year later, I boarded another 747. This time, a Swissair flight headed to Geneva. My very first trip to Europe! The experience was more than I could have imagined. I mean, come on, I wasn’t even old enough to drive yet.

At the time, I thought these trips were just “cool” things to do. But as I look back, I’ve come to view them as cherished gifts.

My Mom believed that travel was a way to create memories and bonds between people… mostly family. Stepping onto that 747 with her so many years ago is one of many memories I cherish. Today I help families create their own bonds and memories through travel. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

As a 14-year old about to go into high school, I probably had no business stepping onto the Boeing 747 that day. That said, I’m so grateful I did! My world became bigger yet more accessible at the same time. I was no longer limited to family trips in a car. That trip on that majestic aircraft opened the door to flights that transported me to different climates and cultures. Looking back as an adult, I realized it was a life-changing experience.

My mother gave me the gift of memories created by travel. She also set me on another journey. I caught “the travel bug.” I became hooked on the exploring the world and eventually made it my career.

And it all started on a Boeing 747 when I was just a kid.


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**Anne Heintz is an independent travel advisor based in Washington, DC who always has her bag packed. She loves the fact that the journey creates memories and connections for her clients. She is affiliated with Worldwide Travel Associates and Tzell Travel. She is the co-founder & namesake of Anne can be reached at


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