Delta Just Canceled the Final 747 Flight From Detroit

Dec 17, 2017

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Back in mid-November, Delta announced the dates of its final 747 flights, giving enthusiasts several weeks to make arrangements to join the onboard celebration. The final flight from Detroit (DTW) was expected to depart on Friday, December 15, while the final return was planned for today, Sunday, December 17, flying 376 lucky passengers back from Seoul (ICN).

Then the unthinkable happened — just a few days before departure, the airline quietly added the 747 to another Detroit-Seoul trip, scheduled to take place a couple days after the final flight. Passengers with enough time to plan ahead scrambled to change their reservations to join one — or both — of the following new final flights:

  • December 17: Delta Flight 159 departing Detroit (DTW) at 12:31pm and arriving Seoul (ICN) at 4:30pm on December 18
  • December 19: Delta Flight 158 departing Seoul (ICN) at 11:15am and arriving Detroit (DTW) at 10:14am

Well, the unthinkable just happened again — as I was walking to join the farewell party at gate 40 in Detroit, the airline canceled the new final flight. It’s even showing as canceled on the departures board:

I’m told that crew availability is the reason for today’s cancellation — specifically, only three of the required four pilots showed up, and since the 747 is on its way out, there isn’t a reserve pilot to sub in.

Now, there’s a bit of good news — while under normal circumstances passengers may have simply been moved to another flight on a different aircraft or even a partner, given the excitement surrounding the 747’s retirement, Delta has decided to fly the plane as expected, just a day behind schedule. So, the 747 will still go on to Seoul, operating as a second departure from Detroit on Monday:

So while passengers are now stranded overnight in Detroit, at least they’ll still have one last chance to fly on Delta’s Queen of the Skies. The return flight is still operating, too — as of now it’s simply delayed three hours:

It doesn’t look like it’s possible to purchase tickets for the new Delta segment to Seoul, listed as Flight 9859, but you can still score a seat in economy or Delta One on Tuesday’s return — which, as of this writing, at least, is still the final 747 revenue flight operated by a US carrier.

In addition to this round-trip to Seoul, the airline is flying a 747 through several hubs in the US, though unfortunately it’s not possible to purchase a ticket. Seats on this final tour are reserved for select employees, SkyMiles auction winners and a handful of journalists.

To that end, I’ll be joining tomorrow’s separate flight from Detroit to Boeing’s Everett, Washington facility, followed by a short hop to Seattle (SEA). TPG managing editor Alberto Riva will also be covering the 747 celebration — he’ll be onboard Tuesday’s final flight from Seoul — so stay tuned for lots more to come at TPG!

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