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 Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Air 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)