British Airways Bids Adieu to Iconic Boeing 747

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It was and remains one of the biggest and most iconic marvels of modern-day air travel: Boeing's 747, two-story, long-distance, jumbo jet.

The much-loved 747 jumbo jet flew a bit closer to retirement on Thursday after British Airways sent its final two planes into the proverbial sunset.

The airline’s last two Heathrow-based Boeing 747 planes took to the skies Thursday morning for a final flight to airfields in other parts of the U.K., where they will be decommissioned and stripped for parts.

British Airways, which referred to its Boeing 747s as "The Queen Of The Skies," at one time boasted the world's largest fleet of the 747-400 model with 31 aircraft. British Airways expects its last 747s, currently positioned in Wales, to leave the fleet by the end of the year.

Once the epitome of modern-age flight, with an upper deck connected by a spiral staircase, in-flight cocktail bars and other atypical amenities, airlines have been replacing their 747 fleets with quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft - an effort accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and plunge in business and leisure air travel.

The very first Boeing 747 made its maiden flight on Feb. 9, 1969, a year before entering service on Pan Am's New York–London route. The airplane quickly caught on with the public, who relished its size, layout and ability to move as many as 550 passengers at a time.

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