With the possible exception of the supersonic Concorde, the Boeing 747 is an airliner unequalled in its iconic status. First produced in 1968, the extremely well-known aircraft held the world record for passenger capacity for 37 years. Today, hundreds of 747s are still circulating the globe on a daily basis, but their numbers have been steadily dwindling for some years, and now this much loved aircraft is seemingly being retired.
Cathay Pacific retiring 747
Cathay Pacific have announced that later this month the 747 will fly from San Francisco to Hong Kong for the very last time. This is becoming an increasingly common story, as airlines shy away from utilising arguably the most recognisable passenger jet in aviation history. The major motivation for this is the rising cost in fuel, which is inducing carriers to ground fleets of aircraft such as the 747, in favour of more modern and cost-effective airliners.
Other airlines are following suit with Cathay Pacific's decision. United Airlines has already replaced the Boeing 747 on the majority of its long-haul routes, instead opting for the more versatile 777-200. Aside from the economic motivation for this decision, the more up-to-date aircraft offers passenger amenities and services which the 747 cannot match. These include such staples of the contemporary aircraft industry such as more comfortable seats, Wi-Fi and superior in-flight entertainment.
New travel paradigm
The coming era in travel is to be defined by a new paradigm in which travellers expect to travel more often for less money, while simultaneously airlines are experiencing economic challenges due to the aforementioned spiralling fuel costs. This will require carriers to be creative and innovative in order to meet consumer demands and reduce costs to a desirable level. In accordance with this priority, Boeing has already indicated that it intends to replace the 747 with the Boeing Y3 - as part of the Boeing Yellowstone Project - in the future. Other prominent new aircraft such as the Boeing Dreamliner and A380 are equally symptomatic of this trend.
This phenomenon reflects a changing travel industry in which companies are having to think on their feet and be more flexible in the way that travelling experiences are offered to passengers. The supply and purchase of travel has become increasingly competitive in the last couple of decades, and this has necessitated both travel-related businesses and destinations to produce more modern travel solutions. This is exemplified by the British travel agent Thomas Cook, who brand their website ‘Flexible Trips.’
Although its days may be numbered, the impact of the Boeing 747 on air travel cannot be underestimated. The first and most recognisable wide-bodied ‘jumbo jet’, the 747 is often referred to as the ‘Queen of the Skies’ due to the esteem that it has accumulated. The iconic Boeing aircraft first flew commercially in 1970, appropriately between two of the world’s most prominent cities, on a New York to London flight.
With its mass transit capabilities, the Boeing 747 played a significant part in democratising international travel, and making overseas flights a feasible option for people over the world who had never previously experienced it. The huge passenger capacity of the 747 played a huge part in the lowering of travel costs over the last few decades. The sheer scale and size of the 747 was symbolically indicative of its significance, with the 747 being more than double the size of Boeing’s earlier 707 model.
The 747 as an iconic brand
While the Boeing 747 ultimately has a utilitarian remit, its impact ensures that the name and physical aircraft itself embodies something beyond its mere purpose. The 747 represents an iconic brand which would be akin to a modern consumer product today such as the iPhone. Rather than merely being a large-scale passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747 has symbolically represented a paradigm shift in popular culture, offering vastly increased access to a new way of life, and even ideology, for people from a multitude of economic backgrounds.
Few people consider what happens to retired aircraft once they have been dispensed with. The aircraft boneyard is a destination that isn't exactly common knowledge, but these storage areas in the middle of the US desert potentially offer a niche location for tourists. At present such boneyards are not accessible to visitors, but in the future, particularly as they become stocked with the revered 747, such ‘junk yards’ could become a possible visiting place for those who are passionate about aircraft.
Regardless of this, the inevitable retirement of the 747 represents the end of an era, and the beginning of a new epoch in which travel companies in particular will have to alter their operations and mentality to adjust to the shifting economic situation and evolving passenger demands.
Discussioncomments powered by Disqus
More from #DTTT
In June we present:Live: #DTTTCampus
#DTTTCampus is here again and we are live from the ground in Oslo, Norway. We are so excited to be welcoming a range of speakers from around the world, from DMOs to travel film directors and industry content powerhouses. We are all set up in the newly transformed Høymagasinet and ready to get started! Stay […]
In May we present:Meet…Heili Klandorf-Järvsoo from Estonia Tourist Board
Heili Klandorf-Järvsoo is the Head of Tourism Marketing at Visit Estonia, and she will be joining us at #DTTTCampus alongside a panel of other DMOs to share insights on the in’s and out’s of Visit Estonia’s ‘Storytellers Nest’.
In May we present:Meet…Kevin Wright from Travel Oregon
In a world of always-on content, information overload and the ever-changing digital consumer, how do you stand out from the competition and most importantly, reach your audience? Kevin Wright, Vice President of Global Marketing for Travel Oregon will be joining us at #DTTTCampus in June to talk about Reflecting on the Role of Content to […]
In May we present:Meet…Gloria Loree from Destination Canada
We caught up with Gloria from Destination Canada ahead of #DTTTCampus to get a sneak peek into what we can expect from her talk on Designing Signature Experiences to Build Brand and Narrative.#brand experiences #destination canada #brand narrative #brand stories
In May we present:Meet…Daniel Bury VR Filmmaker
Daniel Bury is one of the youngest & most up and coming creators in the world of VR film-making, travelling the world to create immersive experiences through unique 360 and VR storytelling.#VR experiences #virtual reality experiences #daniel bury #filmmaker #dtttcampus #virtual reality #Vr
In May we present:5 Reasons Why to Visit #DTTTCampus 2019
In short, #DTTTCampus is a full exploration into the destination experience, with valuable insights on navigating the digital landscape and the ever-changing consumer behaviour of travellers today.#dttt campus #keynote speakers #workshops #destination experience #oslo #destination marketing #Visit Oslo