For nearly 50 years, the so-called Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747, has been carrying passengers across the world. But later today, the original jumbo jet takes a significant step closer to retirement as one of its last remaining U.S. operators gives this iconic plane one final spin. Jonathan Savage has more.
When the acclaimed British architect Sir Norman Foster was asked to name his favorite building of the 20th century, he didn't choose a museum, a train station, or a parliament. He chose the Boeing 747. With its distinctive hump upper-deck, not to mention its sheer enormity, the 747 is arguably the world's most recognizable aeroplane. And it's been a fixture at airports since 1970.
Chances are you've heard about a plane with a spiral staircase in first-class. The plane with a two-wide aisles and a three-wide screen movies, and the eight-foot ceilings in economy. And chances are you’ve wonders who’s going to get this incredible bird off the ground.
This is how the airline Pan-Am sold its brand new 747 to passengers when it became Boeing’s first customer. Now the American operator United is preparing to take the jumbo on a special farewell flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, recreating the airline's first 747 route in 1970. It's promising flight attendants with retro uniforms and a menu inspired by 70s cuisine. To make the flight even more memorable, no upper deck business class seats have been sold, so all passengers can climb that spiral staircase. After that, Delta will be the final US carrier to fly America's most recognizable plane, but only for a couple more months. Airlines around the world are phasing out the 747 in favor of more efficient jets such as Boeing’s Dreamliner, the 787, and the Airbus 350.