The Final Boeing 747 Ever To Be Built Creates A Tribute In The Sky

After 53 years in production, the final commercial Boeing 747 was delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air on Tuesday. On Wednesday it flew from Paine Field in Seattle to Cincinnati, drawing “747” in the sky and placing a crown on top to honor the “Queen of the Skies” as the aircraft has long been known.

The plane was originally developed with prodding and an order from Pan Am. Development was a bet the company event and came close to bankrupting the air frame manufacturer. However it wound up successful, and ultimately delivered nearly 1600 aircraft.

The aircraft was revolutionary for carrying more passengers, as a widebody with two aisles and an upper deck. That reduced seat costs. Ultimately the plane’s design, and four engines, turned its economics from an advantage into a liability. And newer, smaller more efficient planes allowed airlines to fly routes more frequently over long distances – bypassing the congested hubs that the 747 lived for.

It’s the elegance of the plane, its hump and the staircase, that made it special. In many ways I prefer to fly Boeing 777s for a smoother ride in turbulence, the Airbus A380 for spaciousness that allows for more amenities (though piano bars were common in 747s in the early days), and Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s for pressurization to a lower altitude. Still, flying in the nose of a 747 is just as special as ascending the staircase to fly on its upper deck.

Lufthansa has the most passenger 747s still in service (8) but the plane is operated by Iran’s Mahan Air and Iraqi Airways, and Air China among others. Many more planes continue to fly as freighters.

(HT: Dennis)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Sad day and many memories. First 747 was a United flight from Chicago to Hawaii in 1971. . .I was 7 and still have the menu! Next Sabina from old Atlanta airport to Brussels in 1980, TWA from STL to Hawaii in 1995 and final flight PHX to LHR in 2018 flying British Airways business class in the “hump”. Hope to get one more before they all get retired but great memories, great trips and a great plane.

  2. I had a few epic 747 flights with BA, HKG, CPT, JNB, BOM, DEL, CAI, LOS. And CX too, JFK, SYD, DPS. For a long overnight flight the upper deck exit row on BA was preferable to the middle seats in F. Once we got an op up from one to another and my wife was like WTF :).

  3. @Gary,

    While I can appreciate your enjoying the amenities of the newer twin engine jets, you totally missed the absolute genius of Joe Sutter. The prime reason for the hump, was not to serve as a cocktail bar. It enabled the hinged front to tilt back to accept very large freight. And become the pre-eminent cargo liner.

    And by the way, a prime reason for the ending of 380 production is that it could never be converted to a full freighter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *