Virgin Atlantic is giving its last remaining Boeing 747 aircraft a celebratory send-off, by inviting aviation enthusiasts to dine aboard the “Queen of the Skies” one last time.
The airline will open the doors to its Boeing 747 for one day on Saturday, December 12, for “the ultimate 747 experience”. Taking place at Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow hangar, the three-hour event includes a full aircraft tour, where visitors can delve below deck to explore areas of the plane rarely seen by the public, including the plane’s underbelly, cargo hold and cockpit.
This will be followed by a three-course meal in the plane's upper class cabin, known fondly as the Bubble. Participants can also have a photo taken in one of the aircraft’s recognisable red engines.
Virgin Atlantic pilots (including Yvonne Kershaw, the first female pilot to captain the 747), cabin crew and engineers who have worked on the aircraft will be present to provide first-hand accounts and anecdotes on what life was like on-board the famous jumbo jet.
The Boeing 747 made its first cross-Atlantic passenger flight from New York to London in May 1970, carrying 350 passengers – a record at the time. It became the aircraft of choice for long-haul flights, and played a major part in democratising air travel.
Dubbed the "Queen of the Skies”, it flies on four fuel-hungry engines, so has always been an expensive plane for carriers to operate. Like many other airlines, Virgin Atlantic has decided to retire its 747s to make way for a younger, more sustainable fleet of A350-1000s and B787-9s. Each of these new twin-engined planes is on average 30 per cent more fuel efficient than the 747.
Tickets for the one-off event will cost £50 ($67) and will go on sale at 9am (GMT) on Monday, December 7. Proceeds will be donated to The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks in the UK. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only a limited number of tickets are available for purchase and will be allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“The much-loved Boeing 747 has played an important role in Virgin Atlantic’s story. It carried our first passengers to New York 36 years ago on our inaugural flight and over the years has transported countless millions of holiday-makers and business travellers safely around the world,” Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer at Virgin Atlantic, says.
“As we close this chapter and continue the transformation towards a cleaner, greener fleet, what better tribute than to showcase the 'Queen of the Skies' one last time. I’m delighted we’re able to offer this opportunity to a lucky few to be part of aviation history, before we say our fond farewells to this iconic plane.”