Yesterday, Delta Air Lines 747-400 got one step closer to its retirement as it operated its last flight out of Japan.
The flight, DL276 to Detroit, was pushed back at 6:23PM – about half an hour behind its scheduled departure time of 5:50PM – and took off from Narita’s runway 34L at 6:53PM.
A look at how Delta Air Lines sent off its Queen of the Skies from Japan follows.
THANK YOU 747-400 Photo Contest
The farewell started with Delta Air Lines making a Japanese website dedicated to the 747 and organizing a pair of 747-themed contests – a photo contest and a story-writing contest. The results of the photo contest were announced on September 25, 2017.
The absolute winner of the contest got to join the last flight to Detroit while other selected participants got to participate in the farewell event that I will talk about below. Furthermore, all of the selected participants’ photos were used for promotional materials for the last flight and are exhibited in Narita airport’s terminal 1 for now.
When I visited the area yesterday, the selected contestants as well as the crew of the last flight were enjoying the exhibition.
Slightly Delayed Arrival of DL275
Moving on to the actual flight, the inbound flight from Detroit landed on runway 34L at 4:34PM, just as the sun was setting. And, it parked at its arrival gate 26 at 4:37PM.
In the meantime, the departure gate area was already set up with banners and posters commemorating the event.
Delta Air Lines 747-400 Japan Farewell Ceremony
Then, shortly before 5PM, the farewell ceremony started.
First, one of the two Captains of the flight gave a brief speech. Among other things, he mentioned how the 747 has been pioneering travel across pacific for almost half a century and he even went on to compare the 747 to DC-3:
Historians will compare what the 747 has done for international flight to what the DC-3 did for domestic aviation in the United States.
Then, he continued:
A lot of things have started on the 747. There have been babies that were born on the airplane, there have been friendships that have been made on the airplane, and there have been marriages that have started on the airplane.
And, with that he introduced one of the two First Officers of the flight who started with saying that the day was special for him personally – and shared the following story:
About 30 years ago, I met a flight attendant who would eventually become my wife on a 747 flight from Narita to Chicago. 24 years ago this month, we became engaged on a 747 from Narita to Detroit. Also, today is my last flight at Delta Air Lines before I retire. My wife and I have the privilege of being part of the crew on this last 747 flight from Narita to Detroit.
Once the speeches were over, the two Captains of the flight as well as Chief Purser were handed bouquets.
Finally, the crew as well as other Delta Air Lines staff posed for group photos.
The Last Delta Air Lines 747-400 Departure from Japan
With the ceremony done, it was time for the passengers to board and for some of us to go down on the ramp to send off the flight.
Many Delta Air Lines employees gathered there to say goodbye to the 747 – and to take one last photo with the aircraft.
They also posed with a big “THANK YOU 747-400” banner before sending the aircraft off.
And then, finally, at 6:23PM, the aircraft was pushed back with the “Delta crowd” following it as far as was possible.
Even though it was fairly cold and the wind was strong, tens of people waited to see the final take-off which came at 6:53PM and brought with it the end of yet another Boeing 747 at Narita airport.
From today, the flight to Detroit will be operated by the A350, but more on that later!
In the meantime, check out my report about the Detroit to Narita flight onboard the Delta 747 that I took earlier this year…