Qantas will give fans of the Boeing 747 the opportunity to take one last trip on the much-loved jumbo jet before the iconic 'Queen of the Skies' heads into retirement.
The Boeing 747s were set to retire at the end of this year, but the coronavirus-triggered travel slump has seen all but one red-tailed jumbo already put out to pasture.
Responding to overwhelming demand, Qantas has moved to give the Boeing 747 a fitting finale with a series of 75-minute scenic 'Jumbo Joy Flights' to take place in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra as follows, under the QF747 flight number:
- Sydney: Monday July 13, departs 10.15am
- Brisbane: Wednesday July 15, departs 10.15am
- Canberra: Friday July 17, departs 12 noon
Tickets for these Boeing 747 'farewell flights' will go on sale as noon on Wednesday July 8 at the Qantas website at the following rates:
- business class: $747
- economy class: $400
A small number of business class seats on the Boeing 747's upper deck have been set aside for the airline's Platinum One frequent flyers, who are being invited via email, while the premium economy cabin will be reserved for Qantas employees.
As with previous similar Qantas flights, there'll be enough spare seats left unsold so that passengers can enjoy the view as well as a little extra elbow-room.
Qantas says the flights will operate on a 'cost-recovery' basis and any profits will be donated to the HARS Aviation Museum in Sydney and the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach "to help preserve and promote the 747 legacy for future generations."
Qantas 747 Fleet Captain Owen Weaver said the Boeing 747 holds a special place in the hearts of many Australians. “The 747 has been a magnificent aircraft and it’s fitting that we celebrate the end of five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia."
"There is an enormous amount of nostalgia and affection associated with our 747 and for those who miss out on a seat on the flight, they will at least be able to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as it takes to Australian skies for the last time."
The final flight of the Qantas Boeing 747
This last member of the Qantas Boeing 747 fleet is scheduled to bow out at 2pm Wednesday July 22 as QF7474. Qantas says the aircraft will taxi past Sydney Airport's Shep’s Mound viewing area prior to take-off.
Weather permitting, it will do a flyby of Sydney Harbour, the CBD and northern and eastern suburbs beaches, followed by a low level overfly of the HARS Museum (Albion Park) where it will dip the wings in a final farewell to Qantas’ first 747-400, VH-OJA, which is preserved there.
It's then out across the ocean to Los Angeles, then onwards to the infamous Mojave 'boneyard' where her siblings await.
A proud history
With a sprawling economy class cabin, the Boeing 747 helped democratise international air travel, while literally elevating first class to another level thanks to the upper deck's exclusive Captain Cook lounge where first class passengers could mingle, dine, relax, drink, and even smoke.
Qantas also introduced the world's first 'business class' cabin – in name, if not in concept – on the Boeing 747 in 1979, carving out a new level of comfort and service between the luxury of first class and the entry-level economy class experience.
Ten years later, in 1989, Qantas took delivery of the Boeing 747-400: boasting globe-striding range, it set a world record for the longest non-stop flight with a 20 hour marathon trek from London to Sydney (take that, Project Sunrise).
After decades serving as the flagship of the Flying Kangaroo and dominating international routes to the USA, London, Europe and Asia, the Boeing 747s were steadily replaced by the larger Airbus A380 and the more modern mid-sized Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Boeing stopped producing the 'classic' Boeing 747-400 in 2005, and is now preparing to bring down the curtains on the stretched 747-8 series.