View Full Version : Last AF B747 PAX flight

11th Jan 2016, 19:43
Final Air France 747 pax flight AF439 touched down earlier today @ CDG after flying from MEX marking the end of passenger flights with the model at AF.

11th Jan 2016, 19:57
Four years after Singapore Airlines

11th Jan 2016, 20:02
And about ten years ahead of BA :}

11th Jan 2016, 22:37
Four years after Singapore Airlines

AF clearly found a use for them for four years longer than SIA.

And about ten years ahead of BA

Quite possibly, given BA are updating the cabins on 15 or so airframes.

And possibly up to 15 or 20 years ahead of Lufthansa, Air China and Korean with their 748s. Probably also at least 5-6 years ahead of Qantas and KLM.

With crude oil at 12-year lows and with well-maintained airframes with updated cabins, who cares?

11th Jan 2016, 23:09
In the 1980s I became a regular (or should that be frequent?) traveller in B747s.
Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan - SIA, BA, and, probably, CAL and SAS.

Worst experience was when the Hong Kong computer system broke down and we all had to have our seat allocations boarding passes issued manually -it took hours.
Best was an underoccupied SIA flight where I was able to lie across the centre row of seat and get a proper sleep.

SIA service was far and away above the rest - the cabin crew made me feel honoured and respected.
On one BA flight the hostie refused to move her cart into a space so that I could use the gangway - I was only business class, but I got the impression that she considered herself more important than the passengers.

11th Jan 2016, 23:17
I spent many, many nights on board 747s, probably every variant ever built. Remember an AF mixed (pax and freight) from Rio back to Paris during carnival - the cabin crew were all dressed up and in appropriate masquerade! And dancing!

And of course my first ever cockpit visit, LH 747 JFK-FRA in the 70s. Sunrise over the Atlantic - I'll never forget that moment, still gives me goose bumps.

The Big Bird always got me where I had to go and home again. Sad to see her fade away.... :(

India Four Two
12th Jan 2016, 05:25
In 1983, my son, who was six at the time, had lived in three countries and had traveled around the globe at least twice, always in 747s.

That year, at Changi, he went on a 737 for the first time. As we walked through the door, he looked around and said "Dad, where's the spiral staircase?" :)

Always enjoyed my flights on 747s, particularly in upper-deck business class.

12th Jan 2016, 06:38
A touch of nostalgia for me, remembering a round-the-world trip in AF First in 1997 - CDG - NRT - PPT - LAX - CDG. All night flights, snoozing comfortably in lay flat seats even then. (And all paid for, both of us, with AF miles - they had wonderful deals in August, when business in France grinds to a halt - a couple of years later we flew Concorde CDG-JFK-CDG on the same deal).

Lord Bracken
12th Jan 2016, 09:37
Upper deck BA jumbo...Club seats may be old, food may be crap, service can be good or bad depending on the day...but still one of the nicest places to be in the air.

No Fly Zone
12th Jan 2016, 11:50
I heard about this; have/had zero desire to ride the last one. Nope.
In the very early 70s - guessing late 1971 or so?) I rode an AF B742 from CDG to Chicago, via Montreal. Good seat, ho-hum service and AF did their very best to send my bags to Tokyo. (This was long before I learned to fly, but lesson-learned.)
For the return trip a few weeks later, reversing the same route, I wore a crisp uniform and sent some impressive credentials to the flight deck via the purser; May I visit? The Capt. was about to send me back to my seat, but I was bold. "If I keep my mouth shut, may I remain in this jump seat, Sir, until we arrive?" After glances all around the three-man crew, I remained butt-parked in the jump seat behind his and until we were gated and shutdown. The experience sold be on flying, I've never looked back and more than a bit obviously, that kind of experience cannot repeat itself in this century. If there was a downside to the entire experience it may have been missing my "AF Coach Breakfast," as we were getting closer to CDG. Even in 1971, when interline competition was still based on such simple things as Food and Service, AF flunked. (After a modest 0630 French airport snack, I finished my trip a few hours later.) Despite some very nice paychecks, nothing will ever match that that return trip or the Capt.s' courtesy. If anyone wonders, I spoke not a word unless first spoken to. He was a seriously nice fellow, perhaps recognized a newbie in his cockpit, and allowed me to remain. Wow!:D

12th Jan 2016, 12:19
I must agree, upstairs in BA Club was/is the best place to be. Back in the days when they operated to Perth, flown Club from Perth to London many times, and it was the best place in the sky.

12th Jan 2016, 12:38
The Chief Executive of Cathay Pacific's number plate used to be "CX 747", which was appropriate because that aircraft made a good regional airline into a world class airline. With a bit of help from the RB211 and the great Stewart John.

12th Jan 2016, 12:54
upstairs in BA Club was/is the best place to be.

Personally I prefer in the nose in First. Only a wardrobe in front of you, no galley noise and a nice quiet cabin.


12th Jan 2016, 13:24
Sorry, but upstairs when it was a 1st Class lounge as originally intended was the place to be.

12th Jan 2016, 13:46
Upstairs - Gives the feeling of something special. You can turn left or right on most others, but upstairs, that's where WE go, not you.

12th Jan 2016, 14:48
I agree Taildragger67

And possibly up to 15 or 20 years ahead of Lufthansa, Air China and Korean with their 748s.

Before I retired I got the fly the 748 PAX and freighter, it's fantastic. I think the heavy hitters in the freight business will always fly the 747, you just can't beat it.

12th Jan 2016, 19:53
Air France retrospective "747 Forever -- 40 years of romance", Episode 1:


(additional episodes via YouTube link above)

12th Jan 2016, 20:30
I was lucky enough to travel on the jump seat on a number of 747 international flights in and out of LHR when working as a contractor to BA pre-9/11.

It was the best seat in the house bar none [and I say that having experienced most of the others including right down the back too!].

My favourite overnight trip was one coming home from Nairobi.

The older Captain was regaling us with jokes and clips from newspapers that he kept producing from his flight bag and we were, admittedly, being a bit rowdy when a young stewardess appeared on the flight deck.

"Captain", she said, "some of the passengers are complaining about the noise. They're saying they'd either like to hear the jokes in full or can you please shut up?"

"Sorry", replied the Captain, "we'll quieten down."

Then, pointing at me, he asked her "Go on, show him what you've got - after all the rest of us have seen it in the hotel pool".

With barely a moment's pause the extremely attractive young lady started undoing her blouse!

I freely admit that at that moment all sorts of very odd thoughts went whizzing through my mind and the sweat immediately starting running down my back at the thought of possibly being extraordinarily embarrassed by some unknown initiation I might be about to experience.

Luckily for me, two or three buttons sufficed and, pulling down the waistband of her skirt, the aforementioned young lady exposed what was, back then, a great rarity - a gold navel ring!

Trying to recover my composure I said the first thing that came into my mind: "Golly, I bet that made your eyes water".

With not a flicker she replied: "Not half as much as the other two", and proceeded to unbutton her blouse all the way up to reveal a very pretty, front loading, white bra containing a bounteous pair of boobs.

During the conversation we'd been joined by the second First Officer crewing on this trip. He was standing behind the stewardess and was now craning his neck to look over her shoulder [great view of the Grand Canyon I suspect!] whilst the Captain and the other First Officer were very obviously taken by surprise at this turn of events and had turned round as far as they could in their seats to take in the sights coming into view.

Indeed I formed the opinion that if the ground proximity warning or the fire alarms had gone off they just might have been ignored!

The stewardess started to undo the bra clip and the crash recorders would now be logging very, VERY heavy breathing after all, I think we had all heard about nipple piercing back then but probably never ever seen it . . .

However, turning the tables on us, she quickly let go of the fastener and her hands flew to each ear to waggle her two ear studs!

"Now, boys," she said as she did up her blouse, "BE QUIET!"

And we were!

12th Jan 2016, 20:53
For us paupers, the first-come-first-serve upper deck coach seats on the Wardair 747's were fantastic in the 80's. For the same price as the poor bu**er in the middle seat back of the bus on row 60, one had the opportunity to climb the spiral staircase and enjoy the lounge bar atmosphere of the 'upper' floor with about 20 other pax that showed up 3-4 hours early to be assigned upstairs seats. This combined with bone china, edible food, and a champagne welcome before the doors closed. Ah, the good ol' days when cattle class wasn't really that bad.

I had the misfortune to sample the new high-density seating (3-4-3) on an AC 777-300 LHR-YYZ over Xmas, a horrific experience. My knees are still in recovery. When I tell tales of the Wardair days, the young ones don't believe me that a 'charter' op would offer that kind of service and comfort. Congrats to the AC execs, their seats and service is now on-par with the lowest discount carriers. Shame it has to be that way to compete these days. Or does it?

13th Jan 2016, 11:16
It looks like after 40 years of operation they finally even decided to wash their 747 (http://www.airliners.net/photo/Air-France/Boeing-747-428/2762813/L/) at AirFrance :}

14th Jan 2016, 14:22
I remember my first flight in a 747, FRA-JFK on TWA in 1970. After landing I waited until the other pax had disembarked, then wandered upstairs and gazed in wonderment through the open door of the flight deck. There was not a soul around. How times have changed.
My first jumpseat landing was in an SQ 744 on 22R at SFO on Valentine's Day, 1996. I'll never forget that day. After we had departed Seoul, I asked to visit the FD. Certainly, sir, no problem. At the end of my visit, the captain asked me if I'd like to sit in on the landing. Would I? Would I?!! It was a glorious day and the approach over SF Bay was unforgettable, the captain pointing out the sights. I remain good friends with the FO and his family to this day (he's now an A380 captain on SQ).

We'll never see those days - when air travel was a special treat - again.


14th Jan 2016, 16:06
My first jumpseat landing was on an JAL 747-400 in NRT... Won´t forget that either. The 747 was a great plane, for passengers mainly due to its shortcommings. If you used it for range, you could not use the full pax capacity, hence the space even in economy class was still quite OK. I really enjoyed the Qantas flights, no comparison to what airlines offer today on the long range flights.
Upper deck never really impressed me much, it is quite narrow and loud, mainly due to the supersonic airflow around parts of it. JAL had economy seating on the upper deck, unless when seated on the emergency exit row with a free middle seat (FRA-NRT-SYD, which was great) I was not impresed. View is not impressive either, due to the orientation of the windows, and the emergency exit row misses a window anyway. Only the extra storage below the windows is great.

Trinity 09L
14th Jan 2016, 19:11
1978 a BA staff ticket LHR to SYD, seats allocated but occupied, properly dressed so bumped up to 1A and 1B,+ use of top deck lounge,in the night cockpit visit whilst over Afghanistan (Russians i/c).
Pan AM 747 upgrade to 1st. LHR to JFK.
Chicago to LHR 1997 BA 747 granted a visit again, called back at breakfast for a clear crisp sunny 28R landing in the jump seat.
JAL 747 top deck economy OSK - LHR, same again with Air India LHR - JFK return.
Great aircraft, certainly not a match with the 380 whale :yuk:

14th Jan 2016, 20:20
Yep, upper-deck on a -100/200 made a holiday upgrade that much better.

14th Jan 2016, 21:02
I really liked the business class upper deck on the 747 - it gave a certain illusion of exclusiveness. And the big bins next to the windows meant you could keep your stuff immediately handy, even when the seat belt sign was on. I never noticed it was particularly noisy (although it was quite noticeable how quiet the upper deck was on a recent A380 trip :E). The view out the upper deck windows was a bit compromised, but I still managed to view some pretty spectacular scenery out of those windows (the snow covered mountains of Northwest Alaska on a sunny, clear day were simply breathtaking).

14th Jan 2016, 22:05
Considering the lifespan of the type there are millions who flew the plane (a few thousand hours myself :) ). This is going to be a looooooong thread :}
Personally I am more interested in where they are going; I understand AF's -400's are young airframes. Someone is in for a bargain...

14th Jan 2016, 22:13
Not that young at coming up for 24 years old.

14th Jan 2016, 22:22
i heard, some where about 7, that's a toddler..

Well retiring at 24 makes sense..

14th Jan 2016, 23:52
Air France most recent 747 delivery was 2005 - but that's a Freighter. Most recent 747-400 passenger was delivered in 2004 - shows over 50,000 hrs. and 6,300 cycles (which is pretty young considering many 747-400s are north of 100k hours). However that one actually belongs to ILFC, so presumably they'll take it back and either find another operator, or perhaps convert it to a freighter.
The 'newest' 747-400 passenger I could find that was originally delivered to AF and still in service was delivered in 1992 and currently shows nearly 105,000 hrs. I suspect it'll be headed for the desert to be 'recycled'. :rolleyes:

15th Jan 2016, 01:28
Flew on several AF 744 flights from North America to CDG and an AF 743 from Orly to Reunion Island of all places. Paid to be a pax on AC, TW, Pan Am, RAM(747SP), Aerolineas Argentinas, CP, JAL, and KLM.

Did do one JS landing into Tampa on a 742 a long time ago. Entered the FD below 10K. 25 some years later, I got the type endorsement and 2000 hours flight time on the queen.

It is all downhill from there I think.

15th Jan 2016, 06:34
AF B747s into Kai Tak and Papeete...ID90s.

Great memories in this thread.

15th Jan 2016, 07:00
Perhaps these were younger: air-atlanta-icelandic-acquires-2-boeing-747-400-aircraft-from-air-france (http://www.airline.ee/air-atlanta-icelandic/air-atlanta-icelandic-acquires-2-boeing-747-400-aircraft-from-air-france/)

15th Jan 2016, 07:45
Saw the last AFR 747 flight yesterday. Came up from Lorient on a NE track to Mont St. Michel at FL 220, then back to Paris. Coincidentally, AFR 439 ( one of the last 747 flights, from Paris to Mexico City) passed it over Southern Normandy going in the opposite direction, now being operated by an A380 -

15th Jan 2016, 08:04
With the current fuel prices the Queen may be around for some more years. There are facilities all around the world which are used to maintain the 747 at reasonable cost. Spare parts are no issue yet. For a 2004 airframe there should be someone who is interested in operating it for at least another 10 years. It will be interesting to see how BA is continuing the operation. It may turn into a real moneymaker again...

Una Due Tfc
15th Jan 2016, 09:13
At $30 a barrel I think virtually anything could make money now. There are speculators saying it could go as low as $10 a barrel....bring back the DC8!

15th Jan 2016, 09:33
When I flew to East Africa it was VC10s :ok:
My first flight in a 747 was with Iran Airlines. All standard class and I had seat A1 so sat with my knees against the front bulkhead.

15th Jan 2016, 10:00
I used to fly 747s regularly, usually first or business class, I loved seat 1A as the window looked slightly forward. The great thing about the 747 as a passenger was the feeling of space around you. Funny how people remember the self importance of BA 747 crew, lots of people I speak to remember the same thing. After a long flight, having paid an enormous fare to travel first class, it still amuses me while waiting for baggage at the carousel, to see the crew bags come of first so that they can get into the limo to take them to a 1st class hotel for a few days rest, paid for by my ticket !

I was sitting in a BA 747 at Montego Bay once, waiting for a new crew to join and take the next leg to Kingston. I was travelling First Class and asked for a Drink. I saw the new crew board and knew they had come from one of the best hotels in Jamaica. The drink never did come and on departing MoBay for Kingston I asked the same cabin crew what had happened to my drink to which she replied "Sorry but the new Captain wanted a cup of tea" What a culture !

16th Jan 2016, 11:05
Some pics of a "last flight" (in fact, two) there: Re:Re:Re:Vol AF744 à destination de Paris CDG, embarquement immédiat ! - Aéroforums (http://www.aerostories.org/~aeroforums/forumactu/aff.php?nummsg=13915)
The link given is for the middle of the thread, you can go up (link just above the pic/text) and down (first link under the text) from there... Forum organization is also old timed!

Self Loading Freight
16th Jan 2016, 15:32
Upstairs is definitely the place to be, when it's properly kitted out and there's enough time to work down the wine list.

As a special treat, you can hear all the alarms go off in the cockpit when you're halfway over the ice sheet at 2am, and spend the rest of the night not sleeping in your expensive bed wondering what the PA is going to say. (In the event, nothing. I shall never know...)

16th Jan 2016, 15:35
My dad was on the first 747 to fly NY LHR. After he died I found his souvenir pack squirrelled away at the back of a wardrobe.

16th Jan 2016, 17:01
I worked on and flew on _100 _200 _300's. After 45 years doing both it still is the best A/C for me.
Highlight was with Saudis where I got run-up and high speed taxi it was the best!!
I don't envy much but you who got to fly the B747 were lucky to do so.


16th Jan 2016, 18:49
The collapse of oil prices must be rewriting airliner economics.
A used 747 is now so much cheaper than a competing 777 or 787 that the worse operating costs are no longer prohibitive.
Maybe there is room now for an 'Oldtime Airlines', low cost, with crew and equipment both past retirement?

16th Jan 2016, 20:13
Maybe there is room now for an 'Oldtime Airlines', low cost, with crew and equipment both past retirement?

16th Jan 2016, 20:23
It is currently cheaper to lease and operate a B744 than a B77.300 with current fuel prices and low leasing rates for the Jumbo :ok:

An up to date B744 is much more comfortable than a B777, is extremely reliable, faster, rides turbulence better etc etc...

The Queen Of the Skies is very much alive and is getting once again more attractive...

17th Jan 2016, 15:44
Ready for it, tools in hut ready ,bring the beer 😁
VC10 as well

Lord Bracken
17th Jan 2016, 19:47
Example of recent BA refresh, 3-4-3 in Y significantly more comfortable than 3-4-3 in a 777-300:


6th Feb 2016, 17:39
sorry guys you just don't understand airborne luxury.

After missing a nights sleep (work) NOTHING beats a cargo net hammock across a herc freight bay :O:O:O

The Ancient Geek
19th Feb 2016, 23:22
It tells us a lot about the current value of a 744 when a rock band can rent one for their exclusive use, including their own paint job, for a complete world tour.

22nd Feb 2016, 15:29
On one BA flight the hostie refused to move her cart into a space so that I could use the gangway - I was only business class, but I got the impression that she considered herself more important than the passengers. That's become an industry standard, it appears.