This article discusses the passenger variant of the 747. The freighter version of the Boeing 747 flies to many more destinations. Destinations mentioned in this article are based on the current schedules of 2019 of the current airliners.
The Boeing 747, dubbed the Queen of the Skies, is among the most iconic aircraft ever built. Since the first flight in February 1969, more than 1,500 Boeing 747s have been built. But the Jumbo Jet is, with exception of the cargo version, rapidly disappearing from airports. More and more airlines have decided to replace their Boeing 747s with modern aircraft like the Airbus A350, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787.
According to airfleets.net, nineteen airlines still fly passenger flights with the Boeing 747-400. Yet some operators, like British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, have announced that they will replace their Boeing 747-400s in the next couple of years.
So, where can you spot passenger 747s before they disappear?
Europe and Asia
Western Europe has the most 747s. Many 747s are based at London Heathrow/Gatwick (British Airways (35)), Frankfurt Am Main (Lufthansa, 32) or Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (KLM, 11). Other airlines like Air China (Frankfurt Am Main) and Korean Air (London Heathrow & Frankfurt Am Main) also fly passengers to Europe with the 747.
The other region where you can find a lot of Boeing 747s is Southeast Asia. Big airlines like China Airlines (Taipei Taoyuan Airport, 4 aircraft), Asiana Airlines and Korean Air (Seoul Incheon Airport, 2 and 12 aircraft, respectively), and Thai Airways (Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, 10 aircraft) still fly around the world with Boeing 747-400s and newer Boeing 747-8Is.
Home bases of the 747 operators are not the only airport where you can spot 747s. For example, six different airliners (Air China, British Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, and Qantas) still fly their Boeing 747-400/8Is to New York JFK. Boston Logan Int. Airport, Chicago O’Hare Airport, and San Francisco Airport also have at least one daily Boeing 747 flights.
There are a lot of opportunities to catch the Boeing 747 in Asia and Australia where 747s are not based. Airports like Hong Kong Int. Airport, Sydney Kingsford Airport, and Tokyo Haneda handling several 747 flights each day.
Here are some airports with multiple daily 747 flights:
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (KLM)
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (Air China, El Al, and Thai Airways)
- Beijing Capital Int. Airport (Air China, Lufthansa (starting 31 March))
- Boston Logan Airport (British Airways)
- Cape Town (British Airways)
- Chicago O’Hare Airport (British Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa)
- Frankfurt am Main (Air China, Korean Air, and Lufthansa)
- Paris Orly (Corsair)
- Hong Kong Airport (Air China, KLM, Korean Air)
- Johannesburg (British Airways (summer season) and Qantas)
- London Gatwick (British Airways and Virgin Atlantic)
- London Heathrow (British Airways, Korean Air)
- Los Angeles (British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa (starting 04 May))
- Manchester Airport (Virgin Atlantic)
- Mexico City (KLM and Lufthansa)
- Moscow Sheremetyevo (Rossiya)
- New York JFK (Air China, British Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, and Qantas)
- San Francisco (Air China, British Airways, Qantas)
- Seoul Incheon Airport (Air China, Asiana Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, and Lufthansa)
- Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (Qantas, Thai Airways)
- Tel Aviv (El Al)
- Tokyo Haneda (Lufthansa, Qantas, and Thai Airways)
It’s unknown which year the last Boeing 747(-400) be retired.
Different airlines have announced their retirement plans for their Boeing 747-400s. Airliners like British Airways, KLM, and Qantas have already said goodbye to multiple aircraft, and they will continue to do so in 2019. The Dutch airline will retire its last Boeing 747 in 2021, while British Airways will say goodbye in 2024. Other airlines, like El Al (2019) and Qantas (2020), will retire their last 747s in the next two years.
Air China, Korean Air, and Lufthansa will not replace newer 747-8s soon. The oldest Boeing 747-8I, flying for Lufthansa, is barely 7 years old.
Here is a timeline of when several airlines will retire their final 747.
2019: El Al (Israel)
2020: Qantas (Australia)
2021: KLM (The Netherlands)
2022: Thai Airways (Thailand)
2024: British Airways (United Kingdom)
Images by Tim van Donselaar/Aeronautics Online