Qantas Has Something Special Planned For The Boeing 747 Retirement

Nothing lasts forever, and 2020 will see Qantas 747 flights come to an end. The ageing but popular aircraft are being retired and largely replaced by Boeing 787s. But Qantas isn’t letting their iconic 747s go out with a whimper. Australian Business Traveller is reporting that Qantas plans to give the 747 a final last hurrah, with a run of points plane flights to mark the end of the model that has carried tens of millions of Aussies around the world.

qantas boeing 747 retirement
A Qantas Boeing 747 heads out of Sydney. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

No doubt Qantas has been inspired by the success of their inaugural points plane flight to Tokyo later this year. As such, the 747 will head off to international destinations, filled exclusively with Qantas Frequent Flyers paying with points. 

The Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme has been in the news lately, thanks to a recent overhaul. With more than 12 million members, the scheme is suffering some growing pains. Amongst other things, members have complained about the scarcity of points seats on international flights. Having a number of 747s jetting around the world filled with passengers burning points should help address this issue too.

And people are getting nostalgic. Everyone recognises that the 747s are inefficient and increasingly expensive to operate, but flying in them was always a thrill. For most Australians, a well-travelled nation, a Qantas 747 took them on their first big overseas trip.

qantas boeing 747 retirement
A Qantas 747-SP heading into Wellington, New Zealand, in 1981. Photo: PhillipC via Flickr

The airline is running a series of domestic flights using 747s this upcoming Australian summer, in order to reposition the aircraft for the annual summer Antarctic charters. Already 747 buffs have snapped up the points seats available on most of these flights, particularly in the premium cabins. Cash seats remain available. 

Where will the 747 flights go?

Speculation on just where these new 747 points plane flights might head to has been unusually muted. Qantas 747 flights currently set off from Sydney for San Francisco, Santiago, Johannesburg, and Tokyo, along with seasonal services to Honolulu. 

These routes are earmarked to be progressively replaced with other aircraft. The Sydney – San Francisco – Sydney (QF73/74) 747 service is ending in December, to be replaced with the 787. 

qantas boeing 747 retirement
Time is running out to catch the Qantas 747s at San Francisco International. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Santiago and Johannesburg will likely be replaced with 787s. Australian Business Traveller believes an A380 could go onto the Tokyo route. What could happen is that the last 747 flight to each current 747 destination becomes a points plane.

Alternatively, Qantas could schedule special flights to popular destinations like Honolulu, Hong Kong or LA. Or maybe lay on triumphant last flights to Heathrow or New York, where Qantas 747s were once a familiar sight.

Milk runs and the Fiesta Route

Simple Flying would love to see an around the world jaunt or a re-enactment of one of the early 747 milk run style flights to Europe, with stops in ports like Mumbai and Bahrain. These stops were once refuelling pit-stops but now long overflown.

Or possibly a rerun of the long gone and forgotten Fiesta Route, even though this wasn’t a 747 route. It largely predated 747s, and Qantas ran 707s on it. The trip from Australia to England had stops in Fiji, Tahiti, Mexico, The Bahamas and Bermuda. It would be a glorious last run for the Qantas 747. 

qantas boeing 747 retirement
The old Qantas Fiesta Route along with some other exotic Qantas destinations. Source: Qantas

Details on dates and schedules for these 747 points flights are sketchy. Whether Qantas announces the flights in one go or progressively rolls out the last 747 points flights, we expect that, like the Tokyo points plane, seats in the premium cabins will be snapped up quickly.

Simple Flying will be keeping an eye out for announcements.

Where would you like the last Qantas 747 points plane to go? Post a comment and let us know!