You may have heard of the Pan Am Dining Experience where you can eat dinner on board a replica of a Pan Am 747.
- A $200 ticket gets you a business class seat for cocktails, dinner, and a movie.
- A $300 first class ticket gives you a first class seat for cocktails and the movie, and the upper deck dining room for your meal.
It turns out that’s not the only way to eat dinner inside an aircraft. I ate dinner inside a retired L-1011 at the Delta Flight Museum before going onstage to emcee the Freddie Awards a couple of months ago.
There are several opportunities. A new one for me is The Parachute Inn which serves meals inside a Boeing 737 in Northeast Arkansas at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport.
Doris Gustin, owner of the Parachute Inn, has been serving up everything from crawfish to ribeye inside the hull of a retired Southwest Airlines jet. The interior was outfitted to resemble the old Southwest look – minus the tables.
…The restaurant is known locally for its hand breaded catfish fillets, homemade beans and made from scratch hushpuppies from a secret recipe. Locals say you must stay for the fried pie.
But for the kids and kids at heart, it’s all about the airplane experience. From the overhead compartments all the way down to the cockpit.
…“The kids get a kick out of playing in the cockpit. You’ll hear, ‘MAYDAY, MAYDAY, we’re going to crash, we’re going to crash,’”..
The airport used to house a smelting operation for old planes. The aircraft was set to be turned to scrap metal, and instead was turned into a restaurant.
- Tuesday through Thursday lunch service only
- Friday and Saturday they’re open for both lunch and dinner.
You can fly Air Choice One from St. Louis to Jonesboro, Arkansas 35 miles from Walnut Ridge. Or you can fly into Memphis, which is just over 100 miles away.
The irony of course is that while Southwest became one of the biggest liquor distributors in the State of Texas in 1977, they don’t serve meals. So while the Pan Am Experience tries to recreate something Pan Am used to offer, the Parachute Inn manages to elevate Southwest Airlines to a whole new level.