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These Last 747’s Will Fly To Hawaii To End An Era

After more than a half-century, the last Boeing 747 was produced for Atlas Air and will be delivered to the company in the next month. At the other end of the incredible lifespan, the first Boeing 747 went to Pan Am in 1970. In its half-century of production, the 747 jumbos have carried almost 6 billion passengers.

The Queen of the Skies has been a fixture in Hawaii travel for as long as we can remember, and in spite of there being no more of them made, you’ll still have the chance to see them in Hawaii and perhaps even jump on board.

The present and future of Hawaii flights are twin-engine, mainly due to economics. Yet the 747 will be remembered fondly by many for flights to Hawaii we’ve enjoyed. It was, after all, the very first widebody, and stepping on board for the first time, and even after, was unforgettable.

Korean Air 747-800 to Honolulu

Korean Airlines 747-8

Flying on Korean Air may be the last chance for passengers to travel to and from Hawaii on the Queen of The Skies. While other airlines, including Asiana and Lufthansa, still operate 747s, they do not fly to Hawaii. The last airline other than Korean to fly 747 to Hawaii was Qantas, who retired that fleet in 2019.

747 Air Cargo to Hawaii.

Atlas Air 747-8

The last 747 is the cargo carrier Atlas Air. They ordered the last four 747-8 planes to be used as freighters early in 2022. Atlas Air continues to fly its 747 cargo planes to and from Hawaii, and don’t be surprised if you see the new -800 here at HNL at some point.

The four-engine 747 remains well-suited to cargo flights. To this day, it is popular for that specialty.

Commenter Kelly adds that cargo carrier “Kalitta Air still flies 747s to Hawaii. They land at KOA at least once a month, sometimes twice.”

Air Force One 747 was in Honolulu last month.

Air Force One in Hawaii

The 747 also continues to fly as Air Force One. It was seen in Honolulu last month when it stopped in November en route between Asia and Washington, D.C.

Hawaii travel and 747 went hand in hand.

The 747 brought economy travel to Hawaii back in the 1970s and made our exotic destination accessible and affordable. It was also a time when economy class was very different than today’s. This started a more civilized era in Hawaii travel.

Pan Am 747 at Honolulu Airport

Pam Am wasted no time with their Hawaii flights starting in 1970. Continental Airlines brought their 747 “air cruises” to the islands.

TWA flew the 747 to Hawaii soon after that, followed by Hawaii Express. Delta Airlines, which flew the 747-400 to Hawaii as recently as 2017, Northwest Orient, Braniff, and America West.

And don’t forget United Airlines’ 747.

UAL flew 747s to Hawaii from 1970 until 2017, when they were retired with a grand farewell.

What was Hawaii Express?

Hawaii Express was an airline that briefly operated flights between Los Angeles and Honolulu and had the nickname “The Big Pineapple.” They started with just a single 747-100 and later added other aircraft. Its founder also started Hawaii Air and Cheap Tickets. Hawaii Express started flights in 1982 and ended them just over one year later.

What’s your favorite memory of flying on a Boeing 747?

Hawaii Express photo credit Ted Quackenbush.


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18 thoughts on “These Last 747’s Will Fly To Hawaii To End An Era”

  1. Loved the 747 to Hawaii.
    In ’79 flew UA to HNL from LAX for my Honeymoon in F! At that time they didn’t know what to do with the upper deck and it was just a lounge with a couple of sofas and some chairs. Nothing permanent. Not even any food or snacks up there.

  2. I went to Hawaii from Houston on a 747. I was 16 and it was my first time on a plane
    I loved the entire experience. My initials at the time was JET and I was born at 747 pm on October 26 1958

  3. My memory was our first trip to Hawaii in 1979 to celebrate an anniversary. My wife and were on our obligatory visit to the beach at Waikiki and watched as one after another of the majestic planes turned slightly to the left so more passengers could get a farewell view of the famous beach. Sadly, we never took a 747 but did fly on a DC-10 and, my favorite plane of all time, as a passenger, the Lockheed L-1011! Forget narrow bodies from the Mainland to Hawaii! Now we fly on Hawaiian A-330s.

  4. Mahalo for the Boeing 747 article. I’ve flown 3times on Korean Air to Incheon airport. I reserve the top floor and really enjoy my flights to and from Hawaii. At incheon I make a reservation at their airport hotel which has their hot and cold food lounge adjacent to the hotel. It’s all so easy and restful. I’m glad Korean Air is still flying their 747’s to Hawaii. K

  5. Was a youngster of 18, moving from Hawaii to the mainland. 45 years ago, the difference from the government fare to upgrade to 1st class was only $200. It was a lot for a broke college bound student but I splurged anyway. Great memory on United 747 sitting downstairs in the nose, watching movies on a big screen with popcorn and candy provided for the movie. Upstairs, the piano bar was available, although I wasn’t able to drink at the time. Great fun and great memories. Glad I did it.

  6. I never had the pleasure of flying the Queen of the Skies to Hawaii but my first 747 flight was probably the cheapest 747 ticket ever. We lived in San Francisco and had family in LA. Pan Am had a flight out of SFO going to Central / South America with a stop @ LAX. So to fill empty seats, they were selling SFO-LAX economy for $15. We were about the only ones speaking English on the plane.

  7. We flew first class in a 747 on our first trip to Hawaii. We have been many times since, but the first one was so elegant. First, it was the large screen showing videos of Iz, whose songs we now Love. Then, the flight attendants in full aloha dresses and leis served warm macadamia nuts. We were hooked on Hawaii after that. And now, we are hooked on Beat of Hawaii, where we get all our important Hawaii-related information. Mahalo

  8. TWA Flight 1 from St. Louis to Honolulu.
    Return flight was Flight 2 both on their flagship 747.
    Walked down the steps to the tarmac and greeted with a lei. wonderful memories!

  9. We took our first ever flight to Oahu aboard a Pan Am 747 in 1978.As we made our way down the jet way, it smelled like the corridors of our local Military hospital. Clean but unsettling. Of course we were in the Back of the Huge plane. I had a death grip on my now husbands hand. Once we got to fly 1st class on a NorthWest 747. Since we have made more than 30 flights on Several different Airlines.

  10. I flew The Hawaii Express twice before they folded and left me with 4 unused tickets. I still have them stored away somewhere. I also flew United a number of times too. Drinking Mai Tais in the upstairs lounge was great. Loved it.

    1. Our first trip to Hawaii was on the “Pineapple Express” and it went BK the week before our trip. Fortunately we have been to Hawaii several times since then but we’ll never forget that first trip that didn’t happen.

  11. Possibly my only 747 flight was my first flight to Hawaii as a young PFC. I had just finished my Army job school (AIT) and was assigned to Schofield Barracks. It was a Northwest Orient (I think they still had the Orient) flight from LAX to HNL in December 1986. The flight was delayed due to maintenance – I think they had to replace a wheel or tire. Other than that, the flight was uneventful.

  12. The first 747 to fly in Hawaii was run by Pan Am in 1970 with legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh aboard along with a lot of local Hawaii dignitaries. He passed away in 1974 and is buried on Maui outside Hana.

  13. My first flight over water as a 24 year year old traveling to HI from Tennessee. I had won a trip for my sales.
    I remember the spiral staircase going to the lounge for drinks.
    I retired in 2010 I have returned 13 times and scheduled to visit 5/23.

  14. we flew first class in a 747….Pam Am….many, many yrs ago…what a great experience…..well worth the extra fair over coach…..sad to see them go…

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