A Qantas 747 Farewell Fit for a Queen

A Qantas 747 Farewell Fit for a Queen
VH-OEJ at Brisbane Airport. Photo: samh004

Earlier this week, Qantas operated two successful Boeing 747-400ER joy flights out of Sydney and Brisbane. Today, the third and final joy flight will depart from Canberra. This will be the last time a Qantas 747 ever carries passengers.

Many Australian Frequent Flyer members were on one of these joy flights. They’ve described them as poignant occasions.

Sydney’s joy flight

The first of the three joy flights took place in Sydney last Monday. On this occasion, VH-OEJ conducted several low-level flyovers of Sydney Harbour before tracking north to the Central Coast.

After just over an hour in the air, the aircraft pulled into a Qantas hangar at Sydney Airport where passengers were invited to visit the cockpit, take photos and purchase Qantas memorabilia for a gold coin donation. All profits from these flights, and from items sold, are being donated to HARS and the Qantas Founders Museum.

Passengers were given various souvenirs including coasters and commemorative certificates. There were even commemorative Qantas 747 headrest covers on board which could be taken home.

Business class passengers received the new First class amenity kits (which, sadly, won’t be used by First class passengers any time soon with the A380s all in long-term storage) and “retro roo” bags. In a sign of the covid times, all passengers also received a “Fly Well” kit containing a face mask.

AFF moderator Princess Fiona was on the flight, and wrote:

I think I shed my first tear at the start. What an absolute privilege it was to be onboard this flight.
About 200 crew applied to fly it and most of those onboard today are retiring now.
Bravo QF, what a farewell to the Queen of the Skies.

You can read all about the Sydney flight and see lots of photos by AFF members here: Qantas 747 joy flight out of Sydney

Brisbane’s joy flight

The second joy flight departed Brisbane at 10.51am on Wednesday. Samh004 was one of numerous AFF members on board, and shared the following photos from his seat on the Boeing 747’s upper deck…

Pre-departure drinks on QF747

On this flight, passengers were treated to a low level flyover of the Brisbane CBD:

Brisbane flyover

The aircraft then flew to the Gold Coast for a flyby at 2,000 feet:

Gold Coast flyover

Back on the ground, there was also a water cannon salute:

Water canon salute

dougieboy was another AFF member on the Brisbane flight. He wrote:

What a hoot! Very lively and sociable QF customers/staff made for a great atmosphere on board. The bubbly was constantly flowing and everyone was mingling across the classes. Epic conversations were had as we looked upon the skyscrapers of the Gold Coast and Brisbane city, and the fabulous glass sands of Menjerribah (North Stradbroke) and Moreton Islands. No take-off on the new runway due to inability to update the 747 software, which was a bugger (from the pilot’s wife -thank you Miss S).

As the quad jet roared for the final time for this mere mortal I raised my drink to salute and declare “Long live the Queen….. of the Skies the 747′.

Last Wednesday also marked the reopening of the Qantas lounges at Brisbane Airport.

You can read more about the Brisbane flight and see more AFF member photos here: Qantas 747 joy flight out of Brisbane

The final flight

The final Qantas 747 passenger flight is due to depart Canberra Airport at 12pm today. I will be at Canberra Airport for the occasion, so if you’re around, come and say hi!

Here’s the dedicated AFF thread for today’s Canberra joy flight: Qantas 747 joy flight out of Canberra

The last remaining Qantas 747 will then fly back to Sydney later this afternoon, where it will likely remain until it departs Australia for good next Wednesday, 22 July. Qantas is planning a special event in Sydney for staff members before the aircraft departs at around 2pm. From Sydney, it will fly to the United States for retirement… but there will be a few detours along the way!

Unfortunately, there were only limited seats available on these joy flights and they sold out within minutes. But it’s wonderful that Qantas has given at least some of its lucky frequent flyers a final opportunity to farewell its “queen of the skies” properly. (Given the extensive mainstream media coverage given to each of these flights, the free PR can’t have hurt Qantas either!)

If VH-OEJ had’ve flown unceremoniously to the United States for retirement last month, as was originally planned, it would have been a sad end indeed for the aircraft that has been an integral part of the Qantas fleet for the past 49 years.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF Final 747 flights – SYD, BNE & CBR

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]