If you haven’t noticed by now, most airlines are retiring their old gas-guzzlers and replacing them with more technologically advanced aircraft that use a lot less gas. Sadly, that means the Boeing 747-400—which been nicknamed the “Queen of the Skies”—is being phased out.
The 747-400, specifically United’s, will always hold a special place in my heart since it was the plane that gave me my love of flying. I used to be afraid to fly and didn’t know just how good it could be until college. I started dating a girl whose parents lived in Hong Kong and Sydney, and she only flew business class. I had only flown coach and had never been overseas.
When she invited me to Hong Kong one summer, I couldn’t let the opportunity slip by. Her parents bought her a business class ticket on their favorite airline, and I knew there was no way I could sit on a plane for 14.5 hours by myself. I (okay, my dad) bought the seat next to her from a consolidator for $1,500, which was great (full fare was $5,000). I picked the right time to have my first out-of-coach experience. WOW! What a difference! A nice phat seat with a leg rest, some hot towels, a little sorbet to clean the palate, non-stop food, beverages, and movies. It was so good I didn’t want to leave the plane.
United Airlines is the last U.S. carrier to have the 747 and it’s retiring her from its fleet on Tuesday, November 7. The farewell flight will be from San Francisco to Honolulu and guess who will be on it? That’s right, me! The journey will serve as the ultimate throwback for customers, employees and invited guests as it recreates the first 747 flight operated by United in 1970. From a 1970s-inspired menu to retro uniforms for flight attendants to in-flight entertainment befitting of that first flight, passengers will help send the “Queen of the Skies” off in true style.
To commemorate the plane that changed aviation, United created the fond farewell video above.
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