Back in the "Golden Age" of flying, the B747 was affectionately known as the "Queen of the Skies" and associated with all the glitz and glamour of flying.
With Cathay Pacific’s jumbo jet poised for its final farewell this October (see here), we have been feeling rather nostalgic. So we've decided to celebrate the legacy of the aircraft by checking out the journey of B747s with some other airlines that have now retired the aircraft.
Photo credit: Airways News
RETIREMENT DATE January 2016
FINAL FLIGHT LEG Mexico City–Paris CDG
FINAL FLIGHT NUMBER AF747
SEATING CONFIGURATION 36 in business, 396 in economy
DID YOU KNOW? Air France first flew the B747 back in June 1970 on a flight between Paris and New York. The massive cabin size led to a number of service innovations that have become staples of today’s in-flight experience. For example, chief pursers were first introduced onto Air France’s B747 flights to help enable coordination of service and personalised service to premium passengers – a daunting task given that the original jumbo jet could carry nearly 500 passengers. Other improvements included an upgraded inflight meal offering, which saw Air France partner with famous French chefs.
ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS
Photo credit: NY Times
RETIREMENT DATE March 2014
FINAL FLIGHT LEG Okinawa–Tokyo Haneda
FINAL FLIGHT NUMBER NH126
SEATING CONFIGURATION The last B747 that ANA operated was a high-density variant of the aircraft, which the airline used on its popular domestic services. Featuring a total of 565 seats, the aircraft was notorious for its tight 3-5-3 seating layout in economy class.
DID YOU KNOW? ANA’s very first jumbo jet was the B747-SR (Short Range), which was configured with over 500 seats to cater for high demand, high density domestic flights. During the mid 80s, the airline underwent a transformation, as it looked to expand its business outside of Japan. The B747-200 was subsequently delivered in 1986, after which it was used to serve flights to Los Angeles and Washington DC.
RETIREMENT DATE March 2011
FINAL FLIGHT LEG Honolulu–Tokyo Narita & Okinawa–Tokyo Narita
FINAL FLIGHT NUMBER JL075 (Honolulu–Tokyo Narita) & JL3098 (Okinawa–Tokyo Narita)
SEATING CONFIGURATION JAL operated a number of different configurations for its B747, given that the aircraft served both international as well as high-density domestic routes. For a look at the different seat layouts, see here.
DID YOU KNOW? JAL took delivery of its very first B747 in 1970 and went on to gain the record for having the most jumbo jets in the world; over 41 years of service, the Japanese carrier operated a total of 112 B747s.
RETIREMENT DATE November 2012
FINAL FLIGHT LEG Sydney–Kuala Lumpur
FINAL FLIGHT NUMBER MH122
SEATING CONFIGURATION 12 seats in first, 39 in business and 302 in economy
DID YOU KNOW? Earlier this year, Malaysia Airlines considered recommissioning the B747 to serve its Kuala Lumpur–London route from June, while its A380s underwent maintenance. However, those plans were ultimately shelved and the superjumbo looks set to continue its normal scheduled operations next month.
RETIREMENT DATE April 2012
FINAL FLIGHT LEG Hong Kong–Singapore
FINAL FLIGHT NUMBER SQ748
SEATING CONFIGURATION 12 seats in first, 50 in business and 313 in economy
DID YOU KNOW? Singapore was famous for giving nicknames to its aircraft models (though this trend seems to have ended with the more recent A350 and A380 models). The first jumbo jet variant that SIA operated was the B747-200, which it took delivery of in 1973. That model was known as the “Super B”, which was soon followed by the “Big Top” B747-300 in 1983, and finally the “Megatop” B747-400 in 1989.