British Airways retiring all 28 Boeing 747s, becomes latest airline to say farewell to the Queen

Jul 16, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It feels like almost every week we learn of another airline retiring or parking a fleet type.

This time though, it’s big news for the largest operator of the Queen of the Skies, British Airways.

The London-based carrier is retiring all 28 of its Boeing 747s in the coming months, according to an internal companywide email viewed by TPG. BA writes that this proposition is “subject to consultation.”

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news!

But the news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, unfortunately. All of the carrier’s 28 jumbo jets are currently parked, according to fleet-tracking site Planespotters. Originally, the plan was to retire all 747s in 2024. Now, that’s being accelerated to “over the coming months.”

British Airways 747 (Photo by Patrick Fallon/The Points Guy)

BA blames the expected years-long recovery in demand as one of the primary reasons for the early, and abrupt, retirement. Additionally, the carrier cites the fact that these four-engine jets aren’t as fuel-efficient as their modern counterparts. Plus, with an average age of 20 plus years, these jets have required more-frequent maintenance than some of BA’s newer planes.

Nonetheless, this is a sad development for aviation enthusiasts. For many, the Boeing 747 is synonymous with British Airways. British Airways’ predecessor, BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp.), put its first double-decker into service in 1971. More recently, BA’s 747s could still be spotted at airports across the world in the months leading up to the global pandemic.

Many 747 fans cherish the magic of a plane that revolutionized travel. Plus, it’s one of the few planes to offer a unique atmosphere on the exclusive upper deck. Though British Airways is the largest current operator of the Boeing 747-400, it’s not the first one to bid farewell to the Queen. Throughout the pandemic, KLM, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic said goodbye to their jumbos.

Related: These are the last Boeing 747s you can fly in the world

But not all hope is lost. There are still quite a few 747 operators left, for those who’d like some more time with the Queen. Many are of the newer 747-8 variety, which features an elongated upper deck, as well as a new wing structure. You’ll find 747s operated by Air China, Korean Air and Lufthansa, among others. Of course much could change depending on the trajectory of the recovery, but that’s the plan as of now. All U.S.-based carriers retired their 747s in the late 2010s.

British Airways 747 (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

Without the 747 in the fleet, fans of double-decker jets will want to fly BA’s Airbus A380s. These “whale jets” are the carrier’s largest plane. Many operators of the A380 have also parked or said goodbye to these 500 plus airliners during the pandemic. British Airways, however, hasn’t announced any retirement plans for this four-cabin aircraft.

Related: Where is British Airways parking its jets during the coronavirus

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation industry is far-reaching. When it’s time to travel again, flyers will find themselves on newer planes, with many of the trusted and beloved larger jets sent to the boneyard.

Editor’s note: The post has been updated with the correct year that the 747 began flying for BOAC, British Airways’ predecessor. 

Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.