How To Fly On Qantas’ Boeing 747 Before Retirement

The clock is ticking for folks looking to travel on a Qantas 747. The airline has just six Boeing 747-400s left in its fleet. They are all due to be retired by the end of 2020. And Qantas has just announced the last flight of one of those six aircraft. VH-OEF Sydney will operate its last ever flight for Qantas on 9 February 2020, jetting between Sydney and Los Angeles. The good news is, anyone can get aboard.

Next year will see the end of Qantas 747-400 services. Photo: Damien Aiello via Wikimedia Commons.

Last flight for VH-OEF in February 2020

This particular flight is operating as QF99, departing from Sydney at 17:00 on 9 February 2020 and arriving in Los Angeles at 11:50 on the same day. According to the Qantas website, fares are starting from USD$650 or 41,900 points (plus taxes). Seats in the old school business class cabin are starting from a Mastercard melting USD$6,680. Point to point business class points redemptions are no longer available, but on the ball punters can probably find a hack around that. 

VH-OEF will take its last flight for Qantas in February 2020. Photo: Andrew Thomas via Wikimedia Commons.

The 747-400 is still operating international services

But while the “last” flights might get the headlines, there are still opportunities to catch a Qantas 747 operating regular services.

Over the northern 2019/20 winter, Qantas is operating a Boeing 747-400 service between Sydney and Vancouver three days a week. There are departures on Monday, Thursday and Saturday from both cities. Vancouver is the last North American city Qantas is flying the 747-400 to on a regular basis.

There is also the five days a week service between Sydney and Santiago. This flight departs both cities daily except for Monday and Thursday and is operated by a 747-400. However, Qantas has already announced that by the middle of 2020, a 787-9 will go onto the route.

Heading off in an opposite direction is the daily Boeing 747-400 service between Sydney and Johannesburg. The flight is on many people’s bucket lists as it is the world’s most southerly passenger flight, skirting down close to Antarctica.

Paintjobs like this made the Qantas 747-400 one of the world’s most iconic aircraft. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons.

Qantas also sends a Boeing 747-400 up to Tokyo (Haneda) every night. As we’ve reported extensively in Simple Flying, flights between Australia and Japan are ramping up in 2020 and Haneda is emerging as the new key Tokyo airport.

Over the course of 2020, all these flights will revert to other aircraft types, most likely Boeing 787-9s.

There’s also the chance to grab a 747-400 ride on a domestic service

It’s not just long haul international services you can pick up a ride on a Qantas 747 on. Over the next month, there are some opportunities to grab a ticket on a 747-400 operating domestic services. These ad hoc flights are positioning flights for the annual summer Antarctica day trip charters.

Coming up on 31 December 2019 is a morning flight between Sydney and Melbourne. QF417  is being operated by a Boeing 747-400. The ninety-minute flight departs at 08:30 and fares are from USD$180.00.

There are some limited opportunities to grab a 747-400 ride on a domestic service. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons.

The next day, have taken its planeload of passengers down over Antarctica for icebergs and champagne, the 747-400 will return to Sydney, operating as QF438. The plane will depart Melbourne at 14:00 on New Year’s Day with fares from USD$180.

Qantas is repeating this exercise in February 2020. On 15 February 2020, QF439 from Sydney to Melbourne will be operated by the 747-400. The return flight to Sydney will operate on 17 February 2020 as QF400.

While the clock is ticking on your chance to take one last flight on a Qantas 747, the show isn’t over yet. And while you can live large, bust the bank and swing across the ocean on a long haul flight in business class, you can also do a more modest and accessible domestic hop.

You’ll still get that same pushed back into your seat feel as the 747 takes off.