It’s a tough job spotting a passenger Boeing 747 these days. Yet, the Queen of the Skies is still flying, albeit rarely. With the aviation industry gearing up for a period of recovery, we thought we’d take a look at how a passenger can board the jumbo heading into the new year.
Stringent travel restrictions still remain in certain parts of the world. So, it may be tough to hop on the 747 with some of the airlines on the below list. However, across the board, there is still a strong footprint for the type in the current climate.
The Beijing-headquartered carrier has 10 747s within its fleet. Three units are -400s, with only one of them currently active. Registration B-2447 has been hopping between Shenzhen and Beijing in recent weeks. The rest of the Air China 747 aircraft are -8s. Uniquely, one of these planes, registration B-2479, is a special VIP unit.
According to ch-aviation, only three other -8s are currently active. Passengers can fly on them to the likes of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Los Angeles, and New York.
The flag carrier of India holds four 747-400s. Despite being a game-changer in the country over the decades, since the rise of the global health crisis, the 747 hasn’t been performing regular scheduled passenger operations with Air India amid ongoing restrictions. Yet, the carrier recently stated that it plans to keep its units.
Currently, the jumbo fleet is grounded. Moreover, the airline went through quite a transition over the last few months following its purchase by Tata, adding uncertainty to the future of the Air India 747.
While Asiana holds several 747s within its fleet, only one of these is a passenger variant. The 747-400 has registration HL7428 and can fit 398 passengers on board the aircraft. Its seats are split between 10 first, 24 business, and 364 economy, and the jet can be found hopping between Seoul and Changchun.
A charter specialist, Atlas Air holds over 50 747s in its fleet. However, only seven units are passenger variants. Two of these are active, and they have been spotted at numerous US destinations such as Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Houston, Phoenix, San Jose, Seattle, Baltimore, Buffalo, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa.
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The Korean powerhouse is a fan of the 747-8, holding both the 747-8I and 747-8F in addition to the 747-400F. With the 8I being the only passenger variant in the fleet, this will be the type that the carrier’s passengers will be hoping to fly on in the new year. In recent weeks, the planes have been departing from Seoul to the likes of Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Tokyo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Tianjin, and Moscow.
With six first, 48 business, and 314 economy seats, Korean Air is proud of its premium offering with the 747-8.
“With state-of-the-art technology, fuel efficiency has been improved and noise level and carbon emissions have been significantly reduced. Its low carbon emission levels make Boeing 747 a sustainable next-generation aircraft,” Korean Air shares.
“The [first class] seat pitch of 211cm, length of 203 cm, and width of 61 cm provide a spacious setting for relaxing comfort and discretion in-flight. The wide, comfortable, and seamless seat mat ensures maximum comfort and reduces fatigue on long flights,”
The 747 remains an integral part of Lufthansa’s fleet, with the airline holdings two models of the icon. The flag carrier of Germany holds 19 747-8s, which have been heading to the likes of Mexico, the United States, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, India, Brazil, and Argentina this year.
Lufthansa brought its 747-400 aircraft back to life after 18 months in October. This month, the plane has been operating daily flights out of Frankfurt. The operator has eight units of this variant, and along with the 747-8, we can expect to see them in the skies throughout 2022.
Mahan Air has two Boeing 747s in its holdings. Along with a 747-400, the Iranian carrier interestingly holds a 747-300. The -400 holds registration EP-MNB and is 32-years old. EP-MNE, the -300, is 35-years old and has the capacity for 460 passengers, split between 26 business and 434 economy seats. Mahan Air reactivated its -300 aircraft on domestic routes this year. However, the airline’s jumbos are presently grounded. Hopefully, there is still 747-300 service in 2022.
The Aeroflot subsidiary holds a sizeable 747-400 fleet. Seven out of the nine units are in service. They’ve been busy flying to the likes of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Antalya, and Paphos in recent weeks. Eight units hold 12 business and 510 economy, while one plane has 12 first class, 26 business, and 409 economy seats.
Altogether, it’s been a tough period for the 747, with British Airways, Qantas, and KLM all key names that have retired the jumbo since the rise of the pandemic. Moreover, the plane was let go by several airlines even before the global health crisis amid fleet renewal strategies.
Notably, a significant portion of the passenger jumbo jets currently in service are 747-8s, which have only been in the air for a decade. The legacy variants are even harder to come by these days.
The 747 production program is winding down. Additionally, carriers are increasingly becoming in favor of modern twinjets due to their efficiency. So, with only a handful of airlines still flying the legend, and more transformations expected within the market, now is the time to appreciate it while you can.
Overall, what are your thoughts about the last remaining passenger Boeing 747 aircraft? Are you sad to see its service decline in recent years? Also, are you looking to fly on any of these units over the next year? Let us know what you think of the Queen of the Skies in the comment section.