Delta customers and employees began saying their
goodbyes to the airline's Boeing 747 fleet as the aircraft
operated its final Tokyo-Narita to Honolulu flight. It then made a
rare appearance on two domestic flight legs earlier this month.
After arriving in Honolulu from Tokyo-Narita for the last
time, the aircraft was routed through Los Angeles on its way back
to Detroit. The two 747s were then sent from Detroit
to Orlando last week to help assist with Hurricane Irma evacuation
Employees in Honolulu paid tribute to the
aircraft, which regularly operated the Honolulu-Narita route, with
traditional Hawaiian customs by fashioning a maile lei big enough
to fit over the top of the aircraft as a sign of respect. The team
also held a gate celebration, and several employees held back
tears as the group sang Aloha Oe and watched the aircraft depart
Honolulu for the last time.
The Los Angeles team also had a
chance to say their goodbyes to the "Queen of the Skies".
Employees lined the ramp at LAX and waved orange wands as it made
its late-night departure to Detroit. Employees in Detroit met the
aircraft when it landed, though the 747 will continue flying
through Detroit for a few more months.
A group of 50 Delta
Diamond Medallion customers joined in on the festivities as well.
When one member of a Diamond Medallion Facebook group saw that the
747 would be flying two domestic legs, he notified other members
of the group, who jumped at the chance to take one last flight on
the aircraft. The group booked nearly the entire Delta One cabin
and some of the Main Cabin as well, and they flew in from all over
the country to catch one last ride on the 747.
Additionally, employees in Los Angeles hosted a reception for the
group in the Delta Sky Club, and each member of the group received
model 747 aircraft as a parting gift. All customers on the flight
received commemorative ear buds in celebration of the final
scheduled domestic flight.
Delta expects the remaining 747s in its fleet to
be retired by the end of 2017. The retiring aircraft will be
replaced by the Airbus A350, which will be Delta's flagship
international aircraft and the first to feature the airline's
all-new Delta One Suite, as well as Delta Premium Select, a new premium economy experience.
Delta will take delivery of
five A350s in 2017 with more coming in 2018.