Delta’s last scheduled Boeing 747 takes off

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Delta’s last scheduled flight of the 747, the end of an era of an iconic plane in aircraft history, finally got underway Monday.

The flight — Delta's final departing U.S. passenger flight for the last Boeing 747, the original Jumbo Jet — was canceled Sunday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport because it was unable to fully staff the flight with its required four pilots, according to the company.

It had been scheduled to leave Detroit Metro at 12:31 p.m. Sunday and arrive in Seoul-Incheon at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

A company spokesman said the flight left Detroit at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

The iconic aircraft, Ship 6309, is the last Boeing 747-400 to be retired by a U.S. air carrier. Its whale-like hump “has made an impression on the world since the 1970s. The 747 became the most recognizable aircraft in the world,” Delta said on its website.

“Its iconic shape makes it instantly recognizable,” Boeing said on its website, “and passengers have consistently voted it their favorite airplane to fly.”

Delta will take the 747 on an employee farewell tour from Detroit to Seattle, Seattle to Atlanta and Atlanta to Minneapolis-St. Paul on dates in December, according to its website.

The company had announced retiring the 747 earlier but said its Boeing 747 was pressed into service for one more round trip between Detroit and Seoul-Incheon due to operational need.

Delta employees, customers and aviation enthusiasts have been eagerly flying the airline’s remaining Boeing 747-400s since Delta said in 2014 that it would retire the “Queen of the Skies” at the end of 2017.

The 747 will fly a handful of sports-team and ad-hoc charter flights through Dec. 31.

Delta will fly its final 747 to its retirement place in Arizona in early January. This flight will not be open to passengers.

The airline will celebrate the 747 through the rest of December in all of its channels and encourages customers, enthusiasts and employees to share their own tributes and remembrances using the #DL747Farewell hashtag.