Qantas has set a date for its last transpacific Boeing 747 flight in December this year, as reported by Airlinegeeks.com. The route from Sydney to San Francisco, flown by a Boeing 747-400 for the better part of 50 years, will now see its service replaced by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
When is the last flight?
Qantas has locked in December 3rd as the last Boeing 747 flight. QF73 will fly from Sydney to San Francisco, and then onwards without passengers to the Californian desert for retirement.
This last trip follows the retirement of the craft from the Sydney – Los Angeles route back in 2018. Once a regular appearance at LAX, the Qantas 747 Longreach Jumbo last flew in from Brisbane ending a family of routes that also included Sydney and Melbourne.
Qantas has two 747-400s and six 747-400ERs still in service in their fleet. Each one carries 364 passengers.
What will replace the 747?
Qantas has placed a brand new 787-9 on the route. The Dreamliner, one of six new aircraft that is being delivered to fuel the international expansion of the airline, will afford far better fuel efficiency and, in some opinions, a better passenger experience.
This is the same aircraft that flies the direct Perth to London route.
The one major downside is a loss of capacity on the route. With 100 fewer seats now available, Qantas has taken a move that may mean increased prices for passengers as less demand can be filled. It remains to be seen if Qantas will increase the frequency of services to compensate. But for now, there are plenty of transpacific alternatives (Fiji Airways A350 anyone?).
The new 787-9 new aircraft will also feature the new Qantas business class and premium economy.
The new Qantas business class is a big upgrade from what is currently available on the 747. With 42 true lie flat seats on board, each has a pitch of 46 / 80 inches (seating/bed mode) and is quite wide at 24 inches. Each seat also has direct aisle access and a privacy screen.
Also onboard are 28 of the new Qantas premium economy seats. These have a pitch of 38 inches, but the best part is better food and a larger entertainment screen. But there are only a few seats onboard and thus tend to sell out quite quickly.
With only 236 passengers onboard, the density of this aircraft is a far cry from the usual 290+ we see on other carriers (looking at you, KLM, with your 294 passengers).
Where is the remaining Qantas 747 still flying to the USA?
But fear not, there is one last Qantas 747 flying over the Pacific. The Sydney to Hawaii route saw an extension back in 2018 for the 2019 summer/winter season, as reported by Australian Business Traveller.
The route is normally flown by an Airbus A330, and it seems Qantas wanted to upgrade capacity to the island destination.
As we say goodbye to the 747 around the world, it reminds us of the golden days of aviation, of giant planes that were bigger than anything we had seen before, connecting cities across vast oceans and being a highlight for any first-time flyer.
This author personally flew on this route back in 1994 and remembers with delight his tour to the cockpit aboard the Qantas 747. You will be missed!
What do you think? Will you fly on the Qantas 747 one last time?