747. The three numbers light up nostalgia in any aviation geek’s eyes.
The Boeing 747 double-decker “jumbo jet” represented a period of prosperity in American aviation when it premiered in 1970, and it is still beloved by many today.
However in recent years, the aircraft has fallen out of use in favor of more fuel-efficient planes. But it has not fallen out of the hearts of aviation enthusiasts. Earlier this month, United Airlines retired their last 747 aircraft with a 1970s-themed flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. And now Delta is following suit.
The airline announced last week that it will retire its last 747 aircraft — the last operated by any U.S. passenger airline — at the end of this year.
For the rest of the year, Delta’s last 747 aircraft will fly daily service between Detroit and Seoul. The final regularly scheduled service will leave Detroit at 12:31 p.m. on December 15 and land in Seoul at 4:30 p.m. on December 16. It will return the following day, landing in the U.S. at 10:14 a.m.
From there, the aircraft will depart on an “employee farewell tour” from Detroit to Seattle to Atlanta to Minneapolis-St. Paul from December 18 through 20. A few customers will be able to join the employee flights by bidding for a spot using their Delta SkyMiles. The online auction will end December 1 at 9 p.m. ET. The current lowest bid is 92,000 miles but bids have already reached as high as 321,000 miles.
Current Delta employees and retirees will be able to buy tickets for these flights, with proceeds going to the Airloom Project. The organization will help mount a “747 Experience” exhibit at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta.
After the tour, the 747 will fly sports teams and ad-hoc charter flights through Dec. 31. The aircraft will make its final flight to Arizona in early 2018. That flight will not be open to passengers.