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United Will Retire Its Entire 747 Fleet by 2018

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Last week, I flew United’s 747 from Chicago to San Francisco and back. It was a fantastic opportunity to fly the Queen of the Skies on a route normally operated by a 737, and while I was optimistic after hearing that the airline could keep its superjumbo flying through 2022, that turned out to be a bit too good to be true. Today, United shared its plan to pull the 747 from service by the end of 2018.

Economy Plus on United's 747.
Economy Plus on United’s 747.

As part of this plan, United announced that it would be converting Dreamliner orders with deliveries planned in 2020 and later to 777-300ER and 787-9 orders, instead — four new 777s and five 787-9 Dreamliners will enter service beginning next year. The airline will also be purchasing an additional 25 new Boeing 737-700s, in addition to the 40 it already ordered, operating the 737-700s on routes currently served by regional jets.

United also has orders for an additional 35 Airbus A350-1000s, 10 additional Boeing 777-300ERs, 27 Dreamliners and more than 100 Boeing 737s, in addition to 10 Embraer E175 regional jets to be operated on United Express flights. It’s great to see that United’s working hard to improve the quality of its fleet, and while those 747s will be missed by some, there’s no arguing that newer aircraft offer a far superior in-flight experience.

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