In some very sad news, Qantas today announced that it will retire the last of its Boeing 747 aircraft by the end of 2020 and replace them with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
Now I like the 787. My flights with them have mostly been smooth, the electronically shaded window mean that I can always see out and it’s a fine looking aircraft to boot.
But it’s no 747, the aircraft that brought intercontinental travel to the masses. There is something intangible about the 747 that evokes the glamour of flying, real or imagined. The size, the curves, that unique profile. Seated in the 747 I always felt like I was setting off on a long adventure. In a more modern jet it’s just A to B.
My first flight on a 747 was on my very first international trip, with Singapore Airlines. I’ve also flown on them with Malaysia Airlines, British Airways, KLM and Cathay Pacific. But it is with Qantas that I hold my most precious memories of flying all the way to London via Bangkok on our honeymoon aboard a Qantas 747.
I flew their 747-300, 747-400 and 747-400ER at various times, including between Sydney and Narita, Christchurch to Sydney, to Singapore and even once from Sydney to Melbourne.
Possibly my favourite trips on the Qantas 747 was during my London trip in 2009. There I had the chance to compare Qantas’ other four “holer”, the even larger Airbus A380, with the 747 when I flew the latter from Singapore to London and back to Sydney via the now defunct Hong Kong route. Needless to say the 747 won, despite being an older aircraft. But the sight of multiple Qantas 747s lined up at Heathrow is an enduring memory.
Hopefully I’ll get another chance to fly one before the Qantas 747 is gone from our skies altogether.