I've been flying on Boeing 747s since the age of about three. Per family photo albums my first trip on one appears to have been in 1978 from London to Los Angeles operated by the now defunct TWA, and my most recent trip on one was as recently as this March. What I didn't know when I took that overnight British Airways flight back from New York was that it would be my last. Every trip I had planned since then has been cancelled, and a couple of weeks ago BA quietly scrapped their remaining 747 fleet. To be fair quite a few of them had already been retired to the desert scrapheaps over the last few years as newer planes arrived, but the almost complete collapse in demand for long haul travel due to COVID-19 brought forward the 2024 staggered end-of-life date, and that, as they say, is that.
No aircraft are clean obviously, but by the standards of 2020 they were a long way from being efficient aircraft and I found I was travelling on them less and less in favour of more modern planes that were easier on the body as well as the planet. But they retained a certain charm, and if I could bag a seat in the small cabin on the upper deck, or dare I say it right in the nose of the aircraft, then it would always be an enjoyable journey.
They have taken me on some memorable trips over the years, birding and more. To New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami and Las Vegas, to Vancouver, Capetown, Dubai and Buenos Aires, and many years ago to Sydney on Qantas. The ones that until recently were plying the skies were rather old and rackety, and quite tired inside as well, but there was something special about flying in a jumbo jet, the queen of the skies.
I could go on and on as I'm sure you realise, but I won't. Objectively we should all be pleased that they are gone, but that does not mean that nostalgia is not allowed. Even though my travel patterns were changing, to think that I won't ever step inside one again I find rather sad. I was always pleased to be on one, desperately geeky though that is. The end of an era.
|A prize if you can name the seat number....|