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The Boeing 747 Still Reigns as the “Queen of the Skies” at Major Airlines

While U.S. carriers have completely walked away from the world’s first jumbo jet, airlines around the world still rely on the Boeing 747 to get passengers to their destinations in style on long-haul routes.

In the closing days of 2017, Delta Air Lines became the last of the U.S. legacy carriers to retire the iconic Boeing 747 from regular service. As with United Airlines, the “Queen of the Skies” retirement tour, the final farewell flights of the very first jumbo jets in history became a hot ticket for aviation buffs – complete with nostalgic ceremonies and souvenir Boeing 747 keepsakes.

For those of us not lucky enough to get a chance to say goodbye to the 747 on one last journey in person, there are still plenty of chances to experience the “Queen of the Skies” as a passenger. Airlines in the U.S. may no longer offer 747 passenger service, but other airlines around the world continue to offer a slew of regularly scheduled 747 flights.

British Airways remains the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 aircraft. The United Kingdom flag carrier uses the fastest commercial jetliner in production to serve more than 200 destinations in BA’s impressive route map.

Virgin Atlantic touts its fleet of “newly refurbished” 747-400 aircraft. The airline offers service on the iconic jumbo jets based at London Gatwick Airport (LGW), Manchester Airport (MAN), Glasgow Airport (GLA) and Belfast International Airport (BFS).

Air China still operates 10 Boeing 747-400 planes as well as a handful of newer 747-800 aircraft on long-haul routes. Lufthansa, likewise, has 19 Boeing 747-800s and 13 Boeing 747-400s in its fleet. Although KLM has announced plans to eventually retire its Boeing 747 jumbo jets, the Dutch airline recently reconfigured a number of its 747-400 aircraft with updated business class cabins.

The move away from the 747 by US airlines and other giants like Air France caused Being officials to publicly speculate in recent years that production of the once popular passenger plane might soon come to an end. If the 747 has a future, it appears that the aircraft will likely become better known for carrying freight than people. An agreement with UPS for the purchase of 28 new 747-800 aircraft in October of 2016 may have saved the 747 assembly lines from being shuttered for good.

Although no US airlines currently operate the American-made Boeing 747 on regularly scheduled service, there is still at least one American who will continue to fly on the jumbo jet nearly exclusively. Thanks once again to the award of a prestigious contract, the Boeing 747-800 will continue to be the plane used by the President of the United States for years to come.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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