Rumors that British Airways would be using some of its remaining Boeing 747 aircraft on short-haul domestic flights caused excitement for aviation enthusiasts who were willing to pay a premium for the chance to fly on the jumbo jet affectionately known as the “Queen of the Skies.” Environmentalists and airport neighbors were somewhat less enthused about the prospect.
British Airways passengers hoping for a chance to fly on one of the dwindling number of Boeing 747 passenger planes in service will likely have to wait for their next long-haul international flight. Rumors that British Airways planned to use the storied jumbo jet on select domestic routes as part of its scheduled 100th birthday celebrations, sent aviation enthusiasts scrambling to book tickets in anticipation of a flight with pageantry, swag and a rare opportunity to celebrate aboard the “Queen of the Skies.”
The anniversary flights bound from London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Manchester Airport (MAN), Newcastle International Airport (NCL) and Glasgow Airport (GLA) will still have the pomp and the keepsakes, but the jumbo jet will be a no-show. Although the airline never officially confirmed the 747 would be used for the August 25th flights, British Airways appears to have acknowledged that the sold out trips were booked by customers anticipating a trip on the jumbo jet and has offered to refund without penalty the fares of any passengers who chose to cancel their reservations.
Faced with backlash from environmental groups and anti-noise pollution advocates, British Airways officials were somewhat coy about plans to redeploy the jumbo jets for one-of-a-kind short-haul celebratory flights – despite promotional materials touting the domestic jumbo jet journeys. “We will be marking our birthday weekend and we will release our plans nearer the time,” an airline spokesperson said in response to questions about the controversy.
According to an email to passengers, obtained by the popular travel site Airline Geeks, this summer’s birthday celebration flights will now instead be served by standard Airbus equipment. The move should come as welcome news to the chair of the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN) John Stewart who was vocally opposed to the gimmick.
“I can see this stunt backfiring,” Stewart told reporters this week. “Not a good idea to mark your anniversary by flying what was a famously noisy, dirty plane on a short-haul flight at more than premium prices.”
[Featured Image: British Airways]