Qantas bids farewell to the 747 with pleasure flights across Australia: tickets sold out in 10 minutes

Qantas is retiring its Boeing 747 fleet on July 22, six months ahead of schedule

Qantas is set to mark the end of an era by saying goodbye to its Boeing 747 fleet with three final farewell flights across Australia.

After 50 years, the Australian airline will retire its last remaining 747 on Wednesday, July 22. Ahead of that date, the aircraft will say goodbye by taking to the skies on three one-hour "farewell jumbo joy flights".

These passenger flights will depart from Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra on July 13, 15 and 17 respectively, offering travellers one last chance to fly on the jumbo jet.

Qantas 747 fleet captain Owen Weaver said that these pleasure flights are a chance for Australians to say goodbye to a nostalgic aircraft.

“The 747 has been a magnificent aircraft and it’s fitting that we celebrate the end of five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia,” said Weaver.

“There is an enormous amount of nostalgia and affection associated with our 747 and for those who miss out on a seat on the flight, they will at least be able to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as it takes to Australian skies for the last time.”

Tickets sold out in 10 minutes

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Tickets for the flights went on sale on Wednesday, July 8. Priced at $400 (Dh1,026) for an economy seat and $747 (Dh1,917) for business class, they sold out within 10 minutes.

Those lucky enough to get tickets can look forward to a low-level tour of the highlights of each city, as well as the chance to talk to and take pictures with flight crew.

Economy passengers will get an in-flight light lunch, a guided tour of the aircraft and a gift bag, as well as a photo opportunity in front of the jet after landing.

Business class passengers get all of the above, plus a behind-the-scenes visit to the cockpit.

The high demand for tickets shows just how popular the Boeing 747 has been for the "red roo" airline. Qantas took delivery of its first 747 jumbo jet in 1971 and the planes have transported millions of passengers to, from and through Australia.

The farewell flights will operate with Qantas Fly Well policies in place. These measures are designed to protect against the spread of the coronavirus and include recommended face masks and sequenced boarding. All proceeds from ticket sales are being donated to aviation museums in Queensland and New South Wales.

Track the farewell flights

Planespotters and aviation enthusiasts can watch the final flights of the 747 via Flight Radar 24.

The global flight tracking service will follow the 747 as it takes to the skies on each of its farewell flights.

The flights will be operated by the 747 registered as VH-OEJ. This plane was the last of the six jets to be delivered to Qantas from Boeing. It came into service in 2003 and will be wrapping up 17 years of flying.

To follow any of the final flights, search VH-OEJ in FlightRadar's tracking service.

After saying its farewells over Australia, the jumbo jet will leave Sydney for good on July 22, headed for the Mojave desert in California, ending a five-decade chapter of trans-global travel.

In June, Qantas reported it was retiring its Boeing 747 fleet immediately, six months ahead of schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. The airline also said it was axing 20 per cent of its workforce, implementing a cost-saving plan and grounding 100 aircraft for up to 12 months due to travel restrictions in place around the world.

Earlier this week, Boeing said it was ending its 747 production programme.