The last ever Boeing 747 to fly passengers with an American airline will touch down this week, marking the end of an era for an aircraft that brought air travel to the masses.
Delta was planning to fly its last of the original “jumbo jets” on Sunday but due to “operational need” the US carrier brought the plane immediately out of retirement for an additional trip to Seoul and back.
Now, the last commercial flight of its 747 will land at Detroit on Wednesday morning, from the South Korean capital.
This means that passengers on the weekend flights to Seoul and back expecting to be on the last 747 route will have instead been on the penultimate. And those anticipating flying on Delta’s new Airbus A350 will have found themselves on the historic goodbye.
After completing the 14-hour flight, the airline’s last remaining 747 will fly a special “farewell tour”, taking in a number of stops including Everett, Washington, home of the aircraft's final assembly production line, as well as Los Angeles, so Delta employees can tour the aircraft, and Minneapolis-St Paul.
Delta rival United retired its last 747 in November, but fans of the "Queen of the Skies" can still fly the aircraft with BA, Korean Air and Lufthansa.
The gradual loss of the 747 to the industry is seen by experts as the end of the beginning of mass commercial air travel.
“[It] made flying available for everyone,” Boeing historian Michael Lombardi told the AFP. “The 747 gave wings to the world.”