Qantas Ending 747 Service To The US Mainland

Filed Under: Qantas

Qantas has announced that as of December 4, 2019, their daily Sydney to San Francisco route will be operated by a Boeing 787-9.

This is currently Qantas’ last remaining US mainland route to be operated by the 747-400, so with that change, the airline will no longer fly the 747 to the US mainland. Qantas is in the process of retiring their 747s, with the plan for the last one to be retired by the end of 2020.

Beyond that date, Qantas will continue to operate the 747 to Honolulu and to Vancouver, so it’s not Qantas’ last North American service to be operated by the plane.

Qantas currently operates 11x weekly flights to San Francisco, which includes the daily Sydney to San Francisco flight, in addition to the 4x weekly Melbourne to San Francisco flight (which I flew in business class from San Francisco to Melbourne late last year).

With this change, all of Qantas’ mainland US routes will be operated by either the A380 or 787-9.

Qantas currently has eight Boeing 787-9s in their fleet, with a further six to be delivered between October 2019 and late 2020. This is enabling Qantas to accelerate the retirement of their 747s.

The Qantas Dreamliners are fairly low capacity, as they feature just 236 seats, including 42 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 166 economy seats. Qantas has Vantage XL seats on their 787-9s in business class, so for those in business class this product change is good news (the A380s are also expected to get these seats over the coming years).

In other cabins it’s more debatable, as Qantas’ 787-9 premium economy seat is controversial among customers.

Meanwhile in economy, the nine abreast seating on the 787 is tight, though the 787 has the benefit of being quieter and having better pressurization than the 747.

Bottom line

I’m sad to see Qantas retiring the 747, given that it’s such an iconic plane. At the same time, from a passenger perspective the 787 is probably a better plane all around. This does represent a significant capacity decrease for San Francisco, given that the 747 has 364 seats.

Then again, United is launching 3x weekly San Francisco to Melbourne flights as of October 2019, which will no doubt increase competition in the San Francisco to Australia market, so the capacity decrease is well timed.

Are you happy to see Qantas replacing 747 routes with 787s, or will you miss the queen of the skies?

  1. Honolulu, Vancouver, Johannesburg, and Santiago will be the last 4 scheduled routes for QF’s remaining 747 fleet. I wonder which one they’re itching to replace with the 787-9?

  2. @ Lucky: Question, do you notice at all the supposedly higher air pressure and humidity on 787 and A350? Is that a factor for you when deciding between flights, or do you still prefer 777 because of wider cabin an seats?

  3. The nice part of the 747, as outdated as it is, was the capacity. I had no issue booking those flights in economy because I knew I would always have a row to myself from NYC-LAX and vice-versa. Saved a lot of $$ that way.

  4. “At the same time, from a passenger perspective the 787 is probably a better plane all around.” – Having flown both J and Y on both the 747 and 788/789, the Dreamliner is only a better plane for J class. Y class feels extra cramped given the smaller size of the aeroplane.

  5. “Qantas’ 787-9 premium economy seat is controversial among customers.”

    What is controversial about it?

  6. I’m flying upstairs on their 747 SYD – HND in February, have to do it while I still have to the chance!

  7. Does anyone know if VH-OEB has been reconfigured to remove the old 14 seat F cabin? It was refreshed in 2017 for lease to a charter company but then re-entered the fleet. Flightradar has it plying HNL, SCL and HND routes presently, but the seat maps show the Business configuration in the nose. Oddly, Qantas still shows a 747 seat map with the 14 seat F cabin on their web site. Very confusing.

  8. WTF. I have a flight in Dec for this flight, I was hoping to try the upstairs one last time. Oh crap, I wonder if all my seats are gone too

  9. Unless I can fly Lufthansa or British Airways, I fear that I will never again fly aboard a 747. This is because I don’t have plans to fly Air China or Korean Air.

    I have not flown aboard one for a decade. Ohhhh.

  10. The problem with Qantas 787-9 Premium Economy is not the seat, it’s the terrible seating pitch.

    If your neighbour and the person in front of you recline, good luck trying to get out of your seat.

    Premium Economy costs double the discount Economy fare level. For a product massively inferior to Trans-Pacific competitors Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.

  11. Love the 787 but will miss the 747; my last Qantas 747 flight was Sydney-Johannesburg and it was a party in the sky

  12. Qantas used to fly the 747 to LAX and then continue to JFK and back only for passengers To/From Australia, and I included it in my 747s around-the-world trip one year ago, when they reduced it to once weekly (for the 747).

    It was so cool to be on the last scheduled 747 service ever between LA and NY! How amazing would it have been in the 80s…

  13. Love the 747 however the BNE to LAX trip , middle seat in economy wasn’t something I’ll remember fondly unfortunately

  14. In my view there were only two seats worth using in business on the reconfigured QF 747s and they were the two single seats, at the first set of doors.

  15. With the demise of the 747 more F capacity is removed from that market. Bad news for miles ‘n points hounds!

  16. They might have to keep the 747’s for SYD-JNB/SCL, as I’m not sure if QF has any ETOPS 330 two engined planes at the moment, which would be required for the most efficient routing.
    An A380 would be a bit overkill for these routes.

  17. @Claus, having flown both the B787 and A350, I can say that I definitely did feel the difference. Both of those flights I mentioned happened to be TATL red-eyes (one was 8hr, the other 7hr) and I did not have that distinctly dry mouth, throat and nose after my various naps (as you try to do in Y!). I definitely felt more comfortable coming off those flights than any other I’ve experienced of similar distance and time.

    Would I go out of my way to choose one? Hard to say but I’m gradually leaning more towards “yes”. The 787 seat was pretty tight, but I can’t say it was noticeably more so than the 777s are nowadays (with 10 abreast as the trend is going). For seat comfort, I would say it would come down to the airline and class (what J seat that airline has, e.g.). Now that most airlines are going for tighter configurations in Y, I would be happy to book a B787 or A350 flight in economy for the specific reason of more comfortable air.

    FYI – my 787 flight was with BA, and the A350 flight was LH.

  18. The Dreamliner is my favorite plane mainly cause of the bigger windows higher up the fuselage .

    Next favorite the B747-8i.

    My next RTW should be around the Southern Hemisphere so those Qantas 744 flights might be the ride

    BTW this is posted from high above the Outback in Apartment 4A on EY454

  19. Agree with others.
    I lived in San Francisco for many years. Driving down 101 to Silicon Valley I could see the planes inbound to SFO. The Qantas 747 looked awesome enhanced by the knowledge it left the ground across the world in Sydney.

  20. Last year got to fly a 747 from LAX —> JFK.. was really cool. I hadn’t flown on one since 2014 from SFO —> AKL. Sad to see ‘em go.

  21. Why don’t they just replace the 747 with an A380 (as they did earlier at LAX on routes to SYD and MEL) in order to try to meet growing demand, instead of downgrading it to a 787? A 787 would significantly decrease passenger capacity and the smaller size of the cabins and additionally, the seats and everything would make flying in it really uncomfortable especially for economy passengers, especially on long-haul routes like from the US to Australia. After all, would you rather fly in an older big spacious plane or a newer small cramped plane on such routes?

  22. Why don’t they just replace the 747 with an A380 to meet growing passenger demand?

  23. I first flew on a Qantas 747 in November 1982 and will fly this November on the 747 QF73 – just a week before that same route is replaced by the 787. Truly the end of an era. Such graceful giants of the sky and sad to think they’ll be shipped out to the desert as entertainment for the wind and sand.

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