This week British Airways announced the retirement of its 747 fleet.
The plans come four years sooner than planned: the coronavirus-fueled global travel decline accelerated the aircraft’s finish for BA.
The Boeing 747 or “The Queen of the Skies” as it’s known by aviation enthusiasts is an iconic way to fly.
Sitting in the upper deck or “hump” remains a coveted experience for any traveler.
The Past: History & Milestones
The Boeing 747 first flew passengers in 1970 with Pan Am. It was the biggest commercial aircraft by seat capacity and held onto this title for 37 years until 2007 when the Airbus A380 started flying.
British Airways’ predecessor, BOAC, first flew the 747 from London to New York in 1971.
It remains the fastest operating aircraft today, with modern models flying over 650 mph.
Earlier this year, a 747 reached speeds of 825 mph flying from New York to London, thanks to a jet stream accelerated by Storm Ciara.
In 1989, the 747 was also the first aircraft to fly direct from London to Sydney.
The Present & Future
Though Boeing modernized the plane in recent years with the 747-8 model, most long-haul airlines have replaced it with the more fuel-efficient twin-engine planes like Boeing’s 777 and 787, or Airbus’ A350.
While the number of passenger flights aboard the 747 will be limited compared to before, Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China all continue to fly both the older 747-400 and the 747-8 for the time being.
Lufthansa’s fleet has 10 747-400s and 19 747-8s, the latter of which are relatively new airplanes. While Lufthansa has retired some of its 747s during COVID-19, the German airline continues to fly the aircraft on long haul flights to Asia and North America.
The plane is also used by other airlines like Cathay Pacific for cargo flights, so spotting one at the airport remains possible.
We salute the Queen of the Skies. And we hope to be on board her upper deck again soon.