The 747 is Quickly Disappearing From Passenger Service

Without question, the 747 was one of the more incredible advances in commercial aviation history. It was an enormous gamble by Boeing that really marked the beginning of modern, high capacity, long haul travel. (It’s also, in my opinion, one of the best looking airplanes around.) Sadly, but predictably, this magnificent aircraft is rapidly disappearing from passenger service. We need to look no further than Los Angeles to see just how rare the airplane is becoming.

Lufthansa 747-400 at LAX

As a major Trans-Pacific gateway, Los Angeles International (LAX) has long hosted 747s from many of the world’s airlines. While 767s had started to replace larger airplanes over the Atlantic years ago, the distances over the Pacific were too great. The 747 reigned supreme.

Just a decade ago, in 2004, I count nearly two dozen different operators of the passenger version flying more than 30 flights per day from LAX alone. All were 747-400s except for Northwest, which still, amazingly, had a 747-200 to Narita. (There were plenty of other cargo operators, but they’ll continue to fly 747s for a long time, so this post is focusing solely on passenger aircraft.) By the end of this year, after China Airlines and Asiana pull their last 747s from LAX, the airport will be down to a mere 5 operators with fewer than 10 departures per day.

What has happened to all those flights? Each one falls broadly into one of four different categories. Let’s start with the easiest one. These are routes that are no longer flown at all.

LAX 747 Market Exit

United long ago pulled out of its ill-fated Hong Kong route, one that didn’t make sense on a 747 or any airplane. Singapore got rid of its Taipei route as it upgauged its Narita flight, but we’ll talk about that later. Qantas pulled out of its Auckland route, though that had previously been downgauged to an A330 before it was eliminated altogether. JAL dropped the failing Osaka/Kansai route, though that’s one that I could see resurrected with a 787 one day. Lastly, Air India and Malaysia pulled out of LAX entirely, realizing they weren’t a good fit for the market with any airplane.

None of these are gone because the 747 failed in its mission. Some of these never should have been flown at all (United), while others (like Osaka) may work with smaller, more efficient aircraft.

It’s that latter point that has really been the biggest downfall of the 747. There are just a lot more efficient airplanes that can fly not just these failed routes but many more successful ones. And most of those airplanes are smaller. Half of the operators who flew 747s to LAX are flying smaller airplanes today.

LAX 747 Downgauge

The 777-300ER is the clear airplane of choice for airlines looking to improve the efficiency of their operation. It’s not a huge downgauge, but it is smaller. Depending upon how airlines configure the airplane, you usually see a drop of about 50 coach seats while keeping premium seating similar. With two extremely efficient engines compared to the 747’s four older ones, the 777 is a vastly more economical airplane. It’s no surprise that we see EVA, ANA, Cathay Pacific, Air New Zealand, JAL, Philippine, and Air China all exclusively operating 777-300ERs into LAX. On December 2, China Airlines will join that club with both its flights.

Other airlines have downgauged even further. Thai, which has never really found a great way to serve LA, has a 777-200 going through Incheon today. That probably allows them to lose less money than before. Air France has a 777-200 going to Papeete (we’ll talk about Paris later), and Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) had a strategy change which meant the introduction of much smaller A330-200s. Then there’s United which has converted its Tokyo flight to a 787, its Sydney flight to a 777, and stopped flying 747s domestically.

But not every airline is going smaller. Some are going bigger. And there’s only one airplane that can fit that bill.

LAX 747 Upgauge

Of course, the larger aircraft being used is the A380, but it’s not always a straight capacity increase that’s occurring. Yes, Korean has had a big capacity increase with two A380s and a sub-daily 777-300ER (that goes on to Sao Paulo). Asiana will upgauge one of its flights to an A380 this summer, though that seems to be more of a response to Korean than a rational commercial decision.

Singapore has upgauged to an A380 on its Tokyo flight, but as mentioned earlier, it also pulled out of the Taipei market. So the overall capacity that goes on to Singapore from LA is down when you factor that in.

It’s a similar story with British Airways which has gone from 3 daily 747s during the summer to just two A380s. (It still sort of has a third daily with American’s joint venture flight, and that was upgauged last year from a 777-200 to a 777-300.)

Air France has upgauged one flight to an A380 but the other is down to a 777-200 so that keeps total capacity in check.

Lastly, there’s Qantas. It strangely never ordered the 777-300 despite it being a good fit for its network. (It has said that was a mistake.) Instead, Qantas has gone with the A380 and that means a big capacity increase in LA. It has one A380 to Sydney and one to Melbourne now. It still has a 747 on another flight to Sydney (which goes on to JFK at the other end) and one to Brisbane. It just doesn’t have another airplane to fly these routes… for now.

The A380 is bigger, and it has lower seat costs. For an airline like BA, it makes sense to go to 2 daily on a bigger airplane when flying to a constrained airport like Heathrow. But it’s a niche player, and we probably won’t see a big expansion of A380 service outside of Middle East-based airlines. But it could replace a couple of the 747 flights that remain at LAX. Here those are.

LAX 747 Still Flying

KLM continues to fly 747s and is actually adding frequencies. Last year the MD-11 operated a second flight during the summer, but it will be a 747 this year. KLM is a unique airline in that it operates combi aircraft, so cargo is a big part of what it does in LA. But KLM is also an airline that keeps airplanes longer than others (remember, it still has MD-11s), so it’s probably a matter of time before we see another airplane step in.

Virgin Atlantic still has one of its flights to LA on a 747, but it has a lot of 787-9s and A380s on order and I would imagine it won’t be long before the 747 goes away.

Delta continues to fly a 747 to Narita, though that has changed over time. The 747s aren’t going anywhere in Delta’s fleet for awhile, but they are working on a replacement order now. It won’t involve new 747s.

As discussed earlier, Qantas continues to fly 747s on some routes, but it is an airline that simply failed to order the right replacements. I would expect we may see a 787 on the thinner routes, like Brisbane, eventually. But until Qantas figures out a long term fleet plan, the 747 will continue to fly.

The only airline flying 747s to LA today that has a long future ahead is Lufthansa. It is one of the only airlines to have ordered the newer, and slightly bigger 747-8. It flies that to LA twice daily during the summer now. That airplane will fly for a long time, but almost no other airline has been interested. Korean Air has some on order, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them return the 747 to LA at some point, but that’s about it.

The reality is simple. Airlines generally want smaller more efficient aircraft like the 777-300ER (to be replaced by the 777X), the 787, or the soon to deliver A350. A few airlines see value in the A380 but there really aren’t many that can use it well. The 747 sits in the middle, of little interest to most airlines today.

An airplane that once dominated the long haul market is well on its way to endangered status. It makes sense economically, but emotionally, it’s a sad thing.

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88 Comments on "The 747 is Quickly Disappearing From Passenger Service"

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Neil S.
Guest

It’s a bummer.

I just did JFK – SIN on DL, with the JFK-NRT legs on the 744. What a nice, quiet ride. And even though upstairs was full, it was pretty calm and private. Unlike the business class cabin of the KE A380.

I was also super excited when a 744 was swapped in for a 777 on the NRT-SIN leg.

They will be missed.

121 Pilot
Guest

I’m curious why the United Hong Kong flight was such a bad idea?

Sanjeev M
Guest

LAX-HKG is 4 daily on Cathay and they dominate. Probably UA needs a 787 to make LAX work, but they are better off flying SFO-HKG.

Oliver
Guest

Until Cathey decides that they could likely push around United at SFO as well by upping their frequency from two to three dailies?

Ron
Guest

Virgin Atlantic also flies the 340-600 to London. Also not the most efficient aircraft.

I wonder how much of the change is due to increased capacity on the 777 with 10-across seating. Several years ago I flew LAX–CDG and back on Air France and they had two configurations on the 777 — 10-across one way an 9-across the other way. The 9-across was definitely more comfortable, but I see why the airline wants to put in that extra seat.

Bobber
Guest
Sad, but not sad. My first flight ever was on a BA 747-200, LHR to BOS. Other than that, my multiple 747 flights were all on UA (probably why they weren’t that great – other than the top deck experience when I got bumped ‘early’, IAD-LHR – lovely, except for the sodding member of Ben Folds Five who sat next to me and had verbal diarrhoea), except for one flight on a Qantas 747SP; this was a swap-out, and a really nice surprise, on a flight from SYD to CNS – the pilot effectively pulled a handbrake turn, coming into… Read more »
Bobber
Guest

Oh. Forgot the F trip from LHR-SFO, 3 weeks after the BA 772 incident at LHR; the cabin crew were (amusingly) very bitchy about BA leaving their wreckage at the end of the runway….

(here’s hoping for a safe trip to SFO tomorrow…)

Dan
Guest

My first flight on the 744 was, incidentally, from ORD-SFO. I had UA pass travel benefits at the time, and dad wanted to go fly the 744 just for the heck of it. (Some people never grow up.) So off we went. We got J in the hump on the way out, and F in the nose on the way back. Not a bad way to kill a day :)

David SF eastbay
Member

My first airplane flight was a NW 747 SFO-HNL (the plane continued on to Tokyo). My time working at TWA saw a number of trips on 747’s even if just domestic segments.

I still like the look of the 747 over that ugly A380, and while the cargo version will still be around, it’s sad to see the passengers one disappearing.

Mark Johnson
Guest

The 777-300 laid some of the first nails in the B747’s coffin. The 777x will finish the task. The unfortunate by product of the 777’s success is that the 747 has been relegated to the freight world and most likely the desert.

We’re seeing freight companies moving toward the 777F as their weapon of choice to fight increasing costs.

Two engines is just a lot cheaper than four engines.

Great article as usual. Thank you for the fantastic insight and information.

Sean M.
Member

Are these airplanes that are no longer used just ending up in the California or Arizona deserts? Or are they going to other places, not just LAX.

Richard
Guest

My first 747 flight, as a kid, was on PEOPLExpress, from I-forget-where to Brussels. It sticks in my mind because the pilot was a woman, which in the mid-’80s was pretty unusual. For whatever reason, I remember her name: Beverly Burns. I googled the name a couple of years ago, and it turns out she was the first female commercial 747-rated pilot.

I remember the “cash register” carts and paying for our tickets while in-flight. Not sure if those are fond memories, though.

cornbear
Guest

My first 747 flight was during a NWA strike in the early 1970’s. I slinked past the pickets to get on a 747 going from MSP to ORD (a distance of about 400 miles). I was flying student standby on my way to Boston.

bobsmith
Guest
I love the 747 and am sad to think about its looming exit from the skies. It is funny to think now that they were even utilized for domestic routes- as late as the early 2000s I flew one from ORD to SFO. It is also interesting to learn about the legacy of the 747 and to note all the cities once served by the marvelous aircraft. In the U.S., what are some of the non-hub cities have seen regular 747 service? I know PDX had it back in the day on Pan Am to Japan, I believe with a… Read more »
Leslie in Oregon
Member
During much of the 1970’s, Pan Am flew daily PDX-SEA-LHR and LHR-SEA-PDX 747 flights and daily non-stop 747 flights between PDX and HNL. There never was a regularly-scheduled Pan Am 747 flight from PDX to Japan, with or without a stop in SEA. Pan Am’s 747’s were beautiful, and it was a real privilege to work as a Pan Am cabin crew member on the very first 747 passenger flights on any airline. I used to love to sit in the furthest aft crew jumpseat, at L5 or R5, look up the aisle before me all the very front of… Read more »
sfitzgerald86
Member

I was just thinking about how few passenger 744s are still around as I watched a BA 744 depart from the gate over at DFW on Friday. I feel fortunate to have caught a 744 flight on Cathay Pacific from HKG to SFO back in 2008 (my only flight on the 747).

Clint Byrum
Guest

Have ridden the older Lufthansa 747’s between LAX and FRA quite a bit while travelling to Europe. they’re falling apart inside. Was hoping they’d replace with 787’s or an A380, not just a newer 747. I recently found cheaper tickets on BA’s A380 to Heathrow. As a passenger, the quieter cabin and newer in-flight entertainment are enough to make me just filter out Lufthansa for anything over the Atlantic.

jaybru
Member
What a wonderful aircraft! To watch it take off, you’d think, well, that thing will never get off the ground. Too big, Too slow. But, eventually, up it went. On board, I never quite got used to the landings when the ceiling always seemed to rattle. Hope, it doesn’t collapse, but just like some great big bridge making a few groans in the wind., I suppose. And oh, to expeience the SP. I’ve arrived. Burning up those remaining Pan Am FF miles, just before its end, First Class to India and back. Ah, memories! But, that big old Super Connie… Read more »
Johnny Jet
Guest

My first 747 and international flight was back in 1993 on United’s LAX-HKG! That plane will always hold a special place in my heart.

Yo
Guest

As a true non-rev geek, I was able to get South African to change my return flight CPT-MIA to the 747SP on CPT-JNB-FRA. I knew it was probably the only time I’d get to fly the SP.

I loved it. I love the 747, even the junkpiles we used to fly for America West.

rbailey3036
Member

I am flying UA 747 FRA-ORD in July – riding in the hump. I’m sure this will be my last trip in a 747. I will miss it.

One of my best 747 trips was LHR-NBO a number of years ago. It was a daylight flight and 4 of us friends were the only ones in the hump. It was an 8 hr party.

Don Murray
Guest
As a former airline employee, I got to fly on multiple 747s. One memorable flight was from JFK to CUR. My wife and I were in first class and the only other passengers were the pilot’s wife and child. They provided a wonderful meal, prime rib if I remember right. More recently, we traveled to Beijing (then transferring to Shanghai) for a China tour. We didn’t get an option for requesting seats so we ended up in the back right in from of the back wall where we couldn’t move our seat backs for a twelve hour trip. This was… Read more »
ariejet
Member
I grew up with the 747…As a college kid in January 1969..went out to JFK for some plane spotting and met a Pan Am Mechanic. He invited us to come with him to the Pan Am hanger two days before the first 747-100 commercial flight from JFK to LHR to see the beautiful monster(way before post 9/11 security). We walked underneath, past those gigantic landing gear…all four sets of them and then climed a mechanics ladder onboard to see the aisle carpeting covered with protective paper…we walked all over the airplane front to back(brillent “PA blue” and red seats/interior), into… Read more »
Jamie Mackay
Guest

The current way things are looking VA is never going to get those A380s. Too much airplane for their routes and especially given the competition from BA.
I wouldn’t worry about BAs’ 747s disappearing anytime soon from LAX. I reckon they’ll be back in time for Christmas.

Ed
Guest

That does seem to be the case. They deffered their order to 2018 and have been making noises about cancelling it altogether.

They seem much more bullish about the 787-9 which may fit their business model much better. Although they fly out of slot constrained heathrow they are much more about O&D travel as they don’t have BA’s European network or a European partner any more. 787 seems to fit much more closely with how (part-owner) Delta think about capacity.

jscheid
Member

The 747’s will definitely be missed, they have provided such an allure of international travel for many years. My first international trip was in 1991 on a Northwest 747-2 from BOS to LGW. I thought I was in heaven!

Very sad, but understandable, to see that the 747-8’s are not finding a home with airlines. Does anyone think that Boeing felt pressured to develop the -800, as an answer to the A380 and to continue the lineage of the 74’s?

philip
Guest

Malaysia did not pull out all together; they continue with 777-200ER.

syeo.engr
Member
My parents used to take us to Manchester (Ringway) airport at weekends during the 70s to watch the 747s take off. In those days you could walk out on the roofs of the gates which served as open air observation decks. I don’t remember the airlines; maybe BOAC at that time? My first flight on a 747 was LHR-JFK on Pan Am on June 23rd, 1978 on my first trip to the U.S. Had to walk to another terminal to connect to an Eastern 727 to MIA; not many flights to MCO in those days. My last 747 flight was… Read more »
Frank of America
Guest
Hands down my fave jet as well. Flew many 747SPs between LAX-LHR during the 70s. Pan Am and TWA. Almost went down in one (TW760) taking off from LAX. Gale force Santa Anas literally created a vacuum in the engines causing combustion to stop. Back up systems came on immediately and re-started them with a 15 foot plume of flame coming out the back of #2 starboard. Plane rocked and rolled for several seconds. I thought we were going down for sure but the plane stabilized and we kept going. The captain came on after 10 minutes or so and… Read more »
DesertGhost
Guest

I hated to see the DC-3 and Lockheed Constellation go, too. Both went the way of the boneyard because something better came along. Progress has its down side.

Garry Margolis
Guest
Ah, the 747… Friends flew one of the first Pan Am 747-100 flights from NRT to LAX in 1970 and reported that the economy class food service was a single sandwich. My wife and I flew a Varig 707 combi on the same route a couple of days later and were boggled by the service — leather-bound menus with gold tassels, incredible food, even a Droste chocolate apple as a farewell gift. I asked a steward if this was really economy class service. He confirmed it and apologized that there was no first class on that flight because of the… Read more »
Paul
Guest

What routes does United fly the 747? I’m wondering if I should catch a flight before they are gone

Jose Fernando Vega
Guest

Last summer I flow MIA-FRA in Lufthansa 747-400 incredible fly very smooth. Great airplane

wtzander
Member

I was a captain on the 747-400 for UA and although I only shut down three jet engines during a 34 year career It always felt good to have four under the wing while over the oceans.
Truly a magnificent flying machine. I loved it!

hsano
Member
I flew United B747s a lot during the 90s to visit my maternal Grandpa in Osaka before he passed, and for short track speed skating world championships (1997) and the Nagano Olympics (1998) as a volunteer. Usually SFO-KIX, but some times LAX-NRT, and once LAX-HNL and HNL-KIX. Early in the decade they were B747-200s, but gradually upgraded to B747-400s. Back when upgrading with miles was easier and didn’t cost money, I usually upgraded to the Business Class seats upstairs. What a treat that was! The upstairs, even when full, seemed so much quieter than Business Class downstairs. When we flew… Read more »
Paul R.
Guest
I recall riding one of the early 747-400s in (approx.) somewhere around 1993. NWA had been providing frequent local service between their main hubs, DTW – MSP, and assigned a “400” for one late-afternoon flight. It provided plenty of capacity at the 5PM “rush hour”, and (IIRC) allowed the plane to be serviced and then positioned for the longer intercontinental flights ex-MSP. Anyway, it’s not every day that you can get a big plane like this for a short domestic hop. And: since it’s such a short distance, the plane is relatively light at takeoff, as it doesn’t need fuel… Read more »
Trip Seven
Guest

I never been on one, but I can feel them slipping away.

npw99
Member

I remember boarding an Air New Zealand 747 at the dead of night in Auckland, way back in October 1980. I could smell the jet fuel, and we were on our way first to Honolulu and then LAX.

I don’t think it was my first 747 flight, and it certainly wasn’t the last (a shitty semi-freighter KLM from Shanghai to Amsterdam in 2012 – I hope it’s not my last!), but the scene will never leave me. It left me spellbound, and still does.

DK Mashino
Guest

So much reminiscing! I remember my most-frequent 747 flight was UA44 (when it was HNL-ORD) and equipment then was a 747. I don’t know how many iterations UA44 actually went through to what it’s become today, but boy what memories!

hsano
Member

The Japanese airlines regularly used to use B747s for domestic service, where no flight is more than approximately 1.5-2 hours. I don’t know if they still do that.

On the Osaka to Tokyo (and vice-versa) run, some people prefer flying, others prefer the bullet train.

hsano
Member

The consensus was that there were two crowds- one that would rather avoid an air disaster, the other would rather avoid a rail disaster.

Jet Girl Worldwide
Guest

As a former airline brat who grew up non-revving in the pre-deregulation 1970s ~ I had the privilege of flying on UA 747s with the F/C upper deck bar lounge from SFO to BOS & JFK and back. It was the pinnacle of my childhood travel! Once the lounges were converted to regular seating, the 747 lost its appeal. Then as an adult, I flew on Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabins with flat beds and stand-up bars a couple of times across the pond. They really brought the glamour back to the skies.

ChuckMO
Guest
Former airline brat myself here. First 747 was in 1971 or 1972 on TWA JFK-MAD. Last 747 flight was also TWA, LGW-STL. Seems strange I haven’t been on one in over 20 years. Most interesting flight was probably the 1974 flight on TWA JFK-LHR when we ferried an engine over attached to the port side which I had a good view of from my window just ahead of it. So I’m one of those lucky few who have flown a 5 engined 747. It sounds like all my 747 flights were on TWA but I flew UA’s to Hawaii several… Read more »
Cecil in Seattle
Guest
Someone commented about 747’s going in to small airports. Typically Northwest ran several 727 a day from Billings to Helena, Missoula, Spokane and finally ending in Portland, Oregon. During the summer I would fly from Portland to Billings to visit my grandparents. I loved the window seat over the wing so I could listen/feel/see the hydraulics at work on the flaps for all the take offs and landings we did on each of those trips. Sometimes if I got lucky, they would board the plane in Billings via the rear steps in the tail. As usual for Northwest, they were… Read more »
TC99
Guest
I remember vaguely flying on a 747 as a small kid from NY (I think JFK) to Denver. I think it was Continental. The best part was when my dad brought me to the game lounge where I played an early version of Pong, and they had many different types of other games as well. Most of my trips to MNL were on NWA’S 747’s from DTW via Osaka or Nagoya. With the Delta merger, most of these planes were relocated to NY and they reduced capacity to 777’s, so now I fly KAL on my annual trip to see… Read more »
NM
Guest
CF, one you missed (an important one for me): El Al…my first time *ever* on an airplane was LY LAX-ORD-AMS-TLV on 747-200 in 1986 at age 11, a most indelible moment on my memory. It took around 22 hours in total and I remember they let us out in AMS for an hour to stretch, no such luck in ORD where I remember seeing what felt like hundreds of shiny silver AA metal — 727, DC10, MD80. It was awesome, and I was bit with the aviation geek bug. In 1995 I did the trip non stop LAX-TLV on 747-400,… Read more »
SeatDisciple
Guest

I remember sleeping sprawled out across the entire center section of seats in a half-full SAS jumbo during a night flight from New York to Copenhagen in the 70’s. It wasn’t cheap to fly back then, but the 747 was very comfortable – if not always very profitable for the airlines.

tharanga
Guest

go to SFO and you’ll see a huge line up of UA 744s. It’s like a time warp.

And if you sit in Y on that 744, it’s also like a time warp – in a bad way.

J.P.
Guest
The first flight I remember the planes I was on was when I was in 3rd grade and father took my sister and me to see his family in Australia. This would have been in 1978, I think. We flew a TWA 707 from JFK to SFO, a Qantas 747 to HNL and another to SYD. Qantas 747 to LAX via HNL again, and then a TWA L-1011 back to JFK. It is a great memory for me, since I had always been a plane nut, but I was finally old enough to actually recognize the planes I was on.… Read more »
jay
Guest
I live in St Paul just 3 miles north of the end of runway 4/22. Except for high crosswind weather days, that runway is rarely used for takeoffs to the north. The only plane that used it on a regular basis was the daily NW/DL 747 flight to NRT (Tokyo Narita). When I was at home on the weekends and started to hear the rumble coming, I’d jump up and go outside to see her pass overhead. It was quite the experience to have all four engines at seeming treetop level. Once it even set of a car alarm in… Read more »
David SF eastbay
Member

Talk about small cities with 747 service, remember back in the early days of widebodies the only place you could fly to Hawaii from the mainland was Honolulu and Hilo. Once or twice a week airlines like NW/UA/WA would stop in Hilo and since they used 747/D10’s those were large planes for a city the size of Hilo.

robert.rolwing
Member
I have gotten to fly the B747 a couple of times/ As a UA EMPLOYEES, I HAVE HAD THE PRIVALGE OF FLYING THE B747-200 ,from IAD ,[my favoritye airport] to MIA and then onto EZE/ only 2 of us were in the hump-bump,upstairs in Business class and then I got F-class,in the nose—SOOOOO FUN I took my Dad to HKG ,and we got F-class from ORD-HKG and again on the way back, [my Dad has still not opened the bottle Royal Crown Select, he bought on duty free] I love the B777 and hope UA will cancel the GROSS A350… Read more »
Stu in PHX
Guest

In 2004, an equipment repositioning put me on a United 747 IAD-LAX with less than 50 passengers. Plenty of elbow room. In fact, they asked people to move up so they wouldn’t have to use the rear cabin(s). A flight attendant was nice enough to let me check out the upstairs cabin, which was empty for the flight.

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[…] Only five airlines still fly the 747 into Los Angeles International Airport. Why are carriers retiring the planes or moving them elsewhere? Brett Snyder — you know him as Cranky Flier — explains all.  […]

Cedarglen
Member
Heck yes, the B747 has served the world well. The art and science of airplane building have simple out paced this huge, comfortable monster that usually required >85% loads to break even. We knew it as on the way out ~7-8 years ago when many long haul carriers stopped upgrading (or even maintaining?) the interiors. I’ve spent more butt-in-seat time on 747s than any other long haul airplane and never experienced a significant event. Pilots report that it was a joy to fly and FAs appreciated having some elbow room in which to work. The several replacements are great airplanes,… Read more »
Niraj K
Guest

My first ever flight was on a 747. In 1980 I was on an Air France 747 from DELHI-TEHRAN-PARIS and then on another 747from CDG to JFK.

Kent Asche
Guest
Interesting and memorable comments from a wide demographic environment. As a former Pan Am Pilot (B-727 / Berlin Based) I have had the pleasure of flying on the B-747 many times on both long haul and short haul flights that all were truly memorable. I recognize of course the efficiencies of the B-777 and the new B-777X however that does not replace memories nor the “experience”. I have had the distinct memories of sitting in many different seats on the Queen of the Sky, loved First, Business was Delightfully Memorable without question, and economy even was solid good. This aircraft… Read more »
Luke C
Guest

It is indeed a sad thing Cranky – thanks for a great piece. At 13 years of age my first international flight in 1972 was on Pan Am, a 707 “Clipper Eclipse” SYD-HNL and then connecting to 747 “Clipper Unity” from HNL-LAX and I don’t know if I’ve ever replicated that feeling of excitement :)

There – that’s out of my system.

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