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United Airlines has ended its 47-year relationship with the Boeing 747 with a special ‘retro’ flight from San Francisco to Honolulu in acknowledgement of its first-ever commercial flight on July 23, 1970. This last flight follows on from the carrier’s final international 747 flight, from Seoul to San Francisco, on October 29.
More than 300 passengers and crew were on board the flight. Not only was the route chosen to mirror the inaugural flight, but the menu was a 1970s-inspired one and cabin crew wore uniforms of the era. In-flight entertainment was also of a reminiscent nature. Tickets for the flight were sold out within 90 minutes of its announcement. The passengers also included employees and distinguished guests.
“The iconic 747 is a remarkably special aircraft that signaled a new era of air travel and was equally recognizable and beloved by our customers and crew alike,” Oscar Munoz, CEO of United said. “While today is bittersweet, we’ll continue to honor the Queen of the Skies’ game-changing legacy of connecting people and uniting the world with our next-generation of long-haul aircraft.”
After announcing the intended retirement of the “Queen of the Skies”, United laid on a special flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Francisco to enable more customers to experience flying in the 747, while during the month of October the plane went on a farewell tour of all United’s U.S. hubs to enable staff to bid it farewell.
With a cruising speed of 565mph, the 747-400 was one of the fastest passenger aircraft in service, while its internal volume of 31,285 cubic foot was the largest volume of any commercial passenger aircraft.
The last commercial 747 to be flown by an American carrier is due to be retired by Delta Air Lines in December, and has been flown by every commercial U.S. carrier since its introduction in 1970.