The final commercial 747 flights

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Link here.

United announced Monday that its final Boeing 747 flight will take place Nov. 7 with a celebratory recreation of its first United flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Twenty-eight minutes later, at 3:47 p.m. Monday, Delta announced that it recently operated its final Boeing 747 Tokyo Narita-Honolulu flight (on Sept. 5), and that it had operated what were thought to be the final domestic 747 flights from Honolulu to Los Angeles to Detroit. Delta subsequently used two 747s on Orlando evacuation flights as Hurricane Irma approached, bringing a widely-applauded end to its domestic 747 flying.

United plans to recreate the 1970 San Francisco-Honolulu flight, its first commercial Boeing 747 flight, on the Nov. 7 flight. “From a 1970s-inspired menu to retro uniforms for flight attendants to inflight entertainment befitting of that first flight, passengers will help send the Queen of the Skies off in true style,” United said in a press release.

Though the plane has been bypassed by newer technology, I suspect that we will see 747s flying for many years to come, but only in specialized situations. It was a grand achievement, and proved that giant planes could be built.



  • Joe

    The end of an era for the 747, yes it will still be used as a freighter, the newer planes are more efficient, and air force one will still be run with two new 747’s. Not bad for a production run that spans almost five decades!

  • The handwriting was on the wall when manufacturers started producing twin-engine jumbos, but what a stupendous achievement. As a media star, the 747 is perhaps only rivaled by the F-14.

  • Diane Wilson

    The production line is still open, and it looks like they still have a backlog of 20 or so orders, probably all freighters. Production is at one per month, I think. Boeing built more than 1500 of them, so we’ll be seeing them around for a while.

    The two-engine jumbos didn’t really hurt the 747 until they could match the 747 in range, and they could get certified for long trans-oceanic flights, specifically for engine-out scenarios up to 330 minutes away from the nearest airport where a jumbo could land.

    The Air Force insisted on four engines, and Airbus did not bid. After the cost haggling, it looks like two already-built aircraft will be selected. There are at least two of the current passenger model that were built for a leasing company, but never delivered because the leasing company went bankrupt. I’m sure Boeing was glad to find a new buyer for these!

  • Joe

    Diane, if I am not mistaken, those two aircraft will be used for Airforce One, they are brand new year or two old, Trump may have had something to do with that.

  • Chris

    Even though this is a historic last flight, I still don’t want to fly United.

  • Lcon

    Boeing’s modernized 747’s using tech from the 787 the 747-8 is still going but they were not as hot sellers as Boeing had hoped. part competition from the 380, mostly the fall in air travel and ability to use smaller airliners for the job. That said a number of Airlines will keep using them but mostly for longer range flights like the Airbus A380 it’s just harder to justify for short range flights.
    Neither United or Delta Airlines ever bought 747-8 in fact other than UPS and the USAF I don’t think any US Airline ever did.

    @ Diane Wilson
    Boeing still has production of the 747-8F and 747-8I

    @ Joe
    They are a little older than that, The Company was a Russian firm Transaero that went belly up back in 15′ The 747-8Is N894BA & N895BA have been in storage. Boeing took the bid to refit them for the Presidential planes.

    Both birds will be 20ft long have longer ranges, use cleaner engines and be able to carry more passengers At least those are the specs comparing 747-200 to 747-8I

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *