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The Delta 747-400 Farewell Festivities Begin

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The Delta 747-400 Farewell Festivities Begin

The Delta 747-400 Farewell Festivities Begin
October 01
09:00 2017

MIAMI – Nothing is more touching for AvGeeks than saying ‘goodbye’ to a good old aircraft, let alone bidding farewell to the iconic Queen of the Skies.

Delta’s plans for the retirement of their Boeing 747 fleet by the end of the year has caused lots of fellow followers and fans to try and fly on it one last time.

Old Northwest 747s


Delta’s Boeing 747-400 fleet was inherited from their 2009 merger with Northwest Airlines (NW). Even though the aircraft were all refurbished with on-demand entertainment back in 2012 and became a strong player on the airline’s Transpacific network, Delta announced their complete retirement in 2015.

Out of the 16 Boeing 747s in the airline’s fleet, four were retired between September and October 2014, and the rest will follow suit this year.

When the announcement was made, Delta’s Chief Financial Officer, Paul Jacobsen, said, “The 747 is a tough airplane [to operate], with its four engines and its large gauge.”

Indeed, other airlines agree that this type of aircraft is quite expensive to operate. Great amounts of maintenance and an increased 20% fuel burn per available seat forces airlines to consider replacing the old Queen for more fuel-efficient airliners.

The first Boeing 747-400 ever built—ship 6301—joined Northwest Airlines and was later part of Delta’s fleet for a number of years. This particular aircraft was the first 747-400 to be retired by Delta in September 2015 and is now on permanent display at the Delta Museum in Atlanta.

This plane took off for the first time on April 29, 1988, as a test plane for Boeing and was later delivered to launch customer Northwest Airlines on January 26, 1989. Since then, it logged more than 61 million miles flying around the world.

By the end of 2017, no more American carriers will operate the iconic Queen of the Skies in the passenger version.

Farewell, the Hawaiian way


On September 5, Delta celebrated the final Tokyo – Honolulu flight on one of its 747s, which was expected to be flown to the desert on the following day after it arrived in Detroit (DTW). The festivities were held in Honolulu with the typical Hawaiian traditions.

In Hawaii, the Boeing 747 was received by traditional maile lei ceremony where employees fashioned the aircraft with typical flowers as a sign of respect.

At the gate, Delta’s staff danced to the tune of “Aloha Oe” while the aircraft departed for the last time.

As the plane arrived in Los Angeles, employees waved orange wands and made a reception at the Delta Sky Club giving away Boeing 747 airplane models for frequent customers.

Lastly, the last leg of this journey was the most special one, as it was supposed to be the last domestic Delta Boeing 747-400.

Delta’s Diamond Medallion Flyers organized through their private Facebook page an in-flight fiesta. The million-milers who joined hopped on the red-eye flight and celebrated since the moment they boarded the plane until it arrived in Detroit.

Not the last flight


However, the Honolulu-Los Angeles-Detroit flight was not to be the last 747-400 scheduled service for this particular aircraft.

Because of Hurricane Irma’s devastation in the southern part of the country, Delta deployed a few 747-400s on some relief flights to the affected areas. A few 747s were flown to Orlando on evacuation efforts, making the aircraft’s farewell a really memorable one.

Extended Festivities


Delta is one of the last carriers to operate the glorious 747-400. Other airlines like Air France, EVA, ANA Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines already retired the aircraft and have shifted to airplanes like the Boeing 777-300(ER) and Airbus A350-900.

However, if you still want to fly the Queen of the Skies, you can still do so with airlines like British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, and even United Airlines, which is retiring the Queen before the year’s end.

The remaining 747s in Delta’s fleet will be shipped to the desert by the end of the year. Brand-new Airbus A350-900s have already made their way into the company’s hands, getting ready to replace the 747s on the Delta’s trans-pacific routes.

As the Boeing 747 bids farewell, a new era begins for Delta.

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Alvaro Sanchez

Alvaro Sanchez

Online Executive Editor. Journalist and Certified Radio Host. Studying for a Specialization in Public Opinion and Political Communications. Even though I love politics I've found myself fascinated by the Aviation World. I'm also passionate by economy, strategic communications, my family, my country, and dogs. mc@airwaysmag.com

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