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Yesterday marked a somber final flight: United’s last scheduled flight from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport (ORD) using the legendary Boeing 747. United flight #881 departed O’Hare yesterday afternoon for Tokyo’s Narita airport (NRT) — arriving in NRT just after 2am Eastern time this morning.
The same aircraft was turned in NRT and is currently en route back to ORD operating as United’s flight #882. As United has confirmed that yesterday’s flight is the final scheduled 747 service from ORD, this aircraft (N116UA) will either be ferried to San Francisco (SFO) for continued flights or an aircraft boneyard.
Interestingly, the final route (Chicago to Tokyo) is the same route that TPG’s Zach Honig reviewed just over a month ago, on one of the first ever United Polaris flights. While you’ll still be able to experience United’s Polaris service on the 777 that’s taking over on this and other international routes, sadly you’ll no longer be able to fly the original Jumbo Jet out of ORD.
This move comes as United is slowly but surely phasing out the 747 from its fleet. According to an investor presentation from November (caution: PDF link), UA plans to retire all 20 Boeing 747s left in its fleet by the third quarter of 2018.
If you’re still longing to fly United’s Queen of the Skies, the airline will continue to operate its remaining 747-400s on international routes from San Francisco (SFO). United is currently flying the 747 to Beijing (PEK), Frankfurt (FRA), Hong Kong (HKG), Seoul (ICN), Taipei (TPE) and Tokyo (NRT) — with service to London (LHR) scheduled to resume on April 4.
As aviation geeks, we’re sad to see yet another chapter being closed on the storied history of the Boeing 747. However, as the original jumbo continues to age and newer more-efficient aircraft are being bought into service, we understand how the Queen has lost her edge in the competitive airline industry. If you haven’t had the chance to fly the 747, make sure you try it out before it’s too late.
H/T: Live and Let’s Fly
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