First United, now Delta. The 747 continues to fade away from the fleets of U.S. airlines.
It was just last week that United sent its last Boeing 747 off into retirement on a sentimental farewell flight to Hawaii. And now we know the 747 retirement plans for Delta, the sole remaining U.S. passenger operator of the iconic jumbo jet after United’s retirement of the aircraft.
Delta’s final regularly scheduled 747 flights will come in December. The airline’s last international departure on the jet be Dec. 15, when Delta Flight 159 leaves Detroit for Seoul Incheon. Delta’s final international flight of any kind on the jet will come Dec. 17 on the return, Flight 158 from Seoul Incheon to Detroit.
Following those flights, Delta’s Detroit-Seoul route will be operated entirely with the carrier’s new “flagship” Airbus A350.
TODAY IN THE SKY: First look: Delta shows off new ‘flagship’ Airbus A350 in Atlanta (story continues below)
Before the 747 is officially retired, however, Delta will take the aircraft on an “employee farewell tour” that will touch four of the carrier’s hubs. That begins Dec. 18, when Delta will fly the 747 from Detroit to Seattle. From there, the aircraft goes to Atlanta on Dec. 19 before finishing its run in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Dec. 20.
Beyond that, Delta says the 747 “will fly a handful of sports team and ad-hoc charter flights through Dec. 31.” After that, it’s set to go to an airline “boneyard” in Arizona in early January.
The farewell tour flights will be open to employees and retirees “on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at noon ET Nov. 20.” Delta says tickets will be sold at discounted prices with proceeds going to the Airloom Project, the organization behind the 747 Experience exhibit at the Delta Flight Museum.
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Delta customers also can take a crack at securing a spot on the farewell flights, but they’ll have to use their frequent-flier miles to bid for a spot via Delta’s SkyMiles Experiences. Packages available for bidding include a spot a “Farewell Tour Hangar Party” (currently listed at 15,000 miles) to a spot on one of the actual farewell flights (currently at 40,000 miles, but likely to climb).
The flight to the boneyard will not be open to passengers.
Citing its proprietary Flight Fleets Analyzer, FlightGlobal.com notes Delta’s final 747s come from the 16 747-400 models it inherited from Northwest when the airlines merged in 2008. FlightGlobal adds Delta “previously operated the 747-100 from 1970 to 1976, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.”
Delta’s farewell tour for the 747 will bring the jet through two former Northwest hubs — Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul — and former Northwest focus city Seattle, which has since grown into a full-fledged hub for Delta.
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