Delta’s final Boeing 777 flight is just 3 weeks away
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Come November, there will be one less Boeing 777 operator.
In a pandemic-related fleet shakeup, Delta is gearing up to bid farewell to one of the largest planes it operates — the Boeing 777. This widebody jet was the workhorse on many of Delta’s flagship long-haul international routes, including flights from Los Angeles to Syndey and from Atlanta to Johannesburg.
But then the coronavirus came stateside and nearly wiped out all demand for these routes. Although Delta recently completed a cabin retrofit project across its 18 777s, the Atlanta-based carrier later decided to simplify its fleet for cost-effectiveness.
To that aim, in May, Delta announced the retirement of its entire fleet of 777s by the end of the year. Well, 2020 is nearly over (thankfully), and the carrier has scheduled its final two 777 flights.
If you’re looking to catch one final ride on this Boeing widebody, you better start planning now. The final two flights are as follows, according to Cirium schedules and confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.
- Oct. 30: Delta Flight 8787 ATL — LAX, 3 p.m. — 4:30 p.m.
- Oct. 31: Delta Flight 8807 JFK — LAX, 1 p.m. — 4 p.m.
Of course, there’s a possibility that the dates and timing shift. Over the past few months, there’s been an increased number of pandemic-related schedule changes across airlines. So while these are the final scheduled flights, anything could theoretically change at the last minute.
There are still seats left for sale in all cabins on the first retirement flight from ATL to LAX. The JFK to LAX flight is currently sold-out in business, but there are seats left in the other two cabins. Coach fares start at $149, premium economy starts at $350 and business class starts at roughly $1,200.
Award availability is limited, though there are currently some coach seats available at saver rates on the JFK to LAX flight. Delta’s charging 16,000 SkyMiles, though you can book the flight through Virgin Atlantic for 12,500 points.
You’ll still see plenty of these Boeing jets flying across the country. Aside from the myriad of international airlines that fly the 777 to the U.S., two of Delta’s biggest competitors — American Airlines and United — both operate the 777-200 and longer 777-300 variant. You’ll even find AA and UA 777s flying on domestic routes from time to time.
Delta’s retirement of the 777 is just the latest in a long list of planes being sent to the boneyard across the world. With a full recovery not predicted for a few years, carriers are streamlining their fleets and saying goodbye to the gas-guzzling jets of yesteryear. In Delta’s case, the airline has so far retired the Boeing 737-700, McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and the MD-90.
Aviation enthusiasts like me (case in point: check out my Instagram page) will mourn the fact that many Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s — two of the world’s largest passenger planes — are getting scrapped. Just this week, British Airways retired its final two Queens of the Sky. BA was previously the world’s largest operator of the 747. Going forward, it’ll have none, leaving just a handful of airlines still flying the 747.
While long-time fans and enthusiasts will miss the flying the 777 in Delta’s livery, the carrier already has a swanky modern replacement, the Airbus A350. Going forward, the A350 will be DL’s flagship aircraft. The A350 burns 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they’re replacing.
It’s not all sad news; the A350 is actually opening up a new market for Delta: Cape Town.
Though the A350 can replace almost every ultra-long-haul 777 route, the Atlanta to Johannesburg frequency requires a modification. Going forward, the airline’s South Africa service will follow a new circular routing that goes: Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta.
The stop will allow for refueling at sea level before beginning the 8,130-mile trek back to the U.S. And it adds a new dot to Delta’s route map.
So while Delta’s 777 retirement is sure to disappoint some flyers, it ushers in a new era for the carrier’s fleet — one focused on more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft.
Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy
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