United’s 747 Farewell Video

Filed Under: United, Videos

Over the past several years we’ve seen many airlines retire the 747, given that there are more modern planes out there nowadays. Planes like the A350 and 787 have the same range as the 747, but are lower capacity and more fuel efficient, meaning they can economically serve markets that might not work with a 747.

As an aviation geek I’m sad whenever a plane is retired, though at the same time the 747 has significance beyond that. The 747 didn’t just change commercial aviation, but rather changed the world as a whole. The plane was a quantum leap for aviation, as it’s the next model type Boeing introduced after the 707. The 747 allowed airlines to serve markets that couldn’t be served before, making it easier to travel across the globe.

So as much as I’d be sad if airlines ever retired the A380 (given the great amenities the plane has), the A380 hasn’t had nearly the impact on commercial aviation that the 747 has.

With that in mind, 747 retirements have been a pretty big deal for airlines, and we’ve seen some beautiful tributes, including from Singapore AirlinesPhilippine AirlinesAir France, and Cathay Pacific, just to name a few.

United will be operating their last 747 flight early next month, which will be a special commemorative flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, given that it was the inaugural route that the airline operated with the plane.

Ahead of that, United has uploaded a “farewell” video for the plane, which is worth a watch as an aviation geek:

This is more a documentary-style video than a tear-jerker (aside from the emotion the last flight attendant shows), though is still worth a watch, in my opinion.

I still think this part of Sam Chui’s Singapore Airlines 747 retirement video is the most touching out there, though:

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

  1. I flew my first 747 in 1976 – Chicago to Honolulu – at age 12 as an unaccompanied minor. My daughter will be flying her first this December at age 28 – Newark to Zurich on Lufthansa in business upper deck. I can’t wait for her to experience it.

  2. While 747 is an absolutely beautiful aircraft UA First class cabin was abysmal. I flew in F ORD-FRA and it was pretty sad.

    I’ve also done LH 747 and 747-8 in F as well as Thai and Air China on 747 both in F.

    You can still enjoy this magnificent bird on LH in the new 747-8 version.

  3. The first time I flew one was a NWA 747 from DTW to NRT and return in 1990. I flew upstairs in Business Class. The seats were 2-2 configured. Angled. Upstairs was non smoking. Downstairs in coach was a haze of smoke. It was at least a 12 hour flight. No IFE. I think a movie projector screen in front of the cabin. I slept 10 hours on the return flight.

    I got to fly the 747 twice last year. One was a Thai flight from SIN to BKK. It was an equip swap. I was delightfully surprised and sat upstairs.

    My other flight was on a KLM 747 Combi from IAH to AMS. What a fun flight. I sat downstairs in seat 4A and absolutely loved it.

    I hope to swing a few more 747 flights before they all disappear, but nothing planned. I still think they will be around for a little while longer.

  4. I’ll dear miss UA 747! My first 747 ride was from SFO to LHR on Virgin back in 2001. After that, I always try to fly on 747 as I could! United 747 will be solely missed by many of us!

  5. My first 747 ride was 2015 (SFO-HKG) and I flew it again 5 more time since. It was my childhood dream to fly on one since I first heard about it in the early 80’s. I finally did and It does make me cry to see it going out of service. I was so excite to fly on one for the first time and wasn’t able to sleep the night before. My family thought I was crazy but they dont understand about the Queen of the Skies.

  6. How many farewell flights is United going to have on this? They sure are milking it for all that it’s worth.

  7. I brought my son 3 years ago from SFO to NRT (Tokyo.) We got to sit in the upper deck that was half empty. He was 13 at the time. The pilot was so old fashioned that he let my son come sit in the captain’s chair before take off which seemed so hard to imagine in today’s security world. Greatest flight I’ve ever taken.

  8. My first 747 flight was a 747SP LAX to Sydney in the mid 80s. I was so happy when 747 400 was intoroduced. I flew many times to Sydney, Beijing Seoul and NRT. I suppose I will miss the plane but the 787 and new 777s are a good substitutes.

  9. Great tribute. As mentioned on the message board, I’d love for someone to do a post ranking/reviewing the 70’s lounges of the 747s/DC-10s. They were truly remarkable to say the least!

  10. The 747 isn’t dead yet.


    “The B747-400 SuperTanker is the true “Next Gen” air tanker. It joins the worlds fleet of aerial firefighting tankers not only as the youngest VLAT (VERY LARGE AIR TANKER) but with almost twice the capacity of the next largest aerial tanker. . .Configured with 14 first class seats and 2 bunks for the support staff and additional flight crew, the SuperTanker arrives ready to begin previously coordinated flight operations with the host agency.”

  11. Lucky totally agree with the sentiment here – the 747 was an absolute game changer and very sad to see United retiring her. I was lucky enough to fly them from Pan Am and TWA as a child right trough present day (until recently at least) on CX, SQ and BA.

    Having said that, please consider an edit – the 747 was absolutely not the “next model type Boeing introduced” after the 707. The 727 flew in 1963 and the 737 in 1967. Both were introduced to airline service before the jumbos.

  12. UA747 was not my first jumbo ride – that was a Qantas hop from Auckland to Sydney, and back on a scruffy Pan Am 747 desperately trying to mimic QF’s then pioneering business class.

    United took over Pan Am’s Pacific routes, and aircraft, and some years later a 747 wafted me, via HNL, to LAX on my first big long haul adventure. I flew them several times later by which time the -400 had made AKL-LAX one shot. They subsequently switched the route to 777s and then abandoned NZ, sadly. Always a good flight, and always cheaper than Air NZ or it’s now long-gone BA/QF codeshare rival.

    UA has since returned, this time to SFO, but only on a seasonal basis.

  13. David Statham,

    About half of BA’s thirty-odd 747’s have been refurbished and are as good and new as any 777 out there. In fact I got on once thinking it was a 777 and didn’t realize until I saw the safety card.

    The better ones fly to North America – BA’s most profitable routes. The crappier ones fly to Africa.

    I’d still choose a 747 over any other plane, other than a A380 of course

  14. I’ll be flying UA926 to FRA in 10/21, will be my last flight on UA’s 747. I always loved flying in the upper deck backwards, and thank god I was able to get row 15 for next week. One last time…
    Back on 11/1 will be my first time on a 77W with Polaris seating. So goodbye to an old friend and hello to something new in the same trip…

  15. Let us just clarify… it is the 747-400s that are retiring, is it not the 747-800s. They have only been recently delivered? Air China flies them.. and let us see .. who else?

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