United Airlines retires its Boeing 747 after 50 years

Boeing 747 jet retired from United Airlines

San Angelo, TX - United Airlines has retired the Boeing 747 from its fleet after almost 50 years. United wanted to recreate the inaugural journey, which took place on July 23, 1970, with everything retro.

Flight attendants wore vintage uniforms and served 70's-inspired meals, while some passengers joined in on the fun. "It was a very nice party. Everyone was up in the aisles. There was a constant chatter, everyone sharing stories. It was really amazing. It was a lot of fun."

Tickets for the flight sold-out in under two hours. Jason Schwartz, passenger, recalls, "I saw that it was available and I jumped on it very quickly and was able to get a seat."

Because the iconic jumbo jet changed the air travel game decades ago, United says saying "Good-bye" to the "Queen of the Skies" is extremely bitter sweet! The airline says it chose to retire 747s from its fleet because there are more new, more fuel efficient aircraft entering the market.

"So many of our customers and so many of our employees have flown on this plane, have serviced this plane, they've served customers on this plane, so today was both an exciting day for us, but also a sad day for us," says Jim Olson of United Airlines.

Warren Phelps, retired 747 Pilot, shares his experiences: "It was the easiest airplane that I've ever flown. You'd step out and you'd look at that airplane and say, 'Did I bring all of that with me? It's such a huge airplane." 

When the jet landed in Honolulu, it was greeted with a 110-foot lei, made out of orange trash bags to replicate Ilima.

The farewell flight took off from San Francisco Tuesday morning and landed in Honolulu hours later. Flight attendants, pilots, and passengers celebrated the bittersweet occasion.

Delta Airlines is now the last U.S. passenger carrier to possess the Boeing 747's in its fleet, but has plans to retire the aircraft from its fleet by the end of the year.

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