Please note this is a Farewell Flight flying between Canberra to Canberra.
It doesn't happen often, let alone in Canberra, but 17 July 2020 was a memorable day. The queen of the skies, the Boeing 747-400 came to my hometown airport for one last hurrah. Booking this flight was challenging, given it sold out in 14 minutes, as the Qantas Executive said. With my ticket booked, I arrived at Canberra airport early and went to Gate 4 to get my boarding pass and my goodie bag. The goodie bag consisted of an amenity kit, a Farewell Qantas 747 flag and the Qantas 747 cap. that was the economy class bag. Sadly, I was not fortunate enough to get a business class ticket. They got a pretty nice looking retro bag.
By the time I got my goodie bag and boarding pass, the queen had already arrived and parked at the gate. The flight crew and some PR people along with some dignitaries came around the waiting area to talk to people. I felt they were still only talking to Qantas staff as opposed to the general public like me. That's what I felt it was like. With some entertainment at the waiting area and then a presentation for Qantas from the Air Transport Safety Bureau, we all started boarding the aircraft at Gate 4. Flying under COVID-19 conditions meant that for the first time in a long time, I boarded the aircraft from the back of the plane. No complaints though, I got a good shot of the plane prior to boarding. I will say though, those stairs are VERY steep heading to the 747. It felt so much like climbing a steep flight of stairs!
Canberra - ZZF (Mystery Flight - Canberra)
12.26pm - 1.31pm (1hr 6min)
Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEJ 'Wunala'
Pax 263 / 364
Please note the flight path was taken inflight and was not the final routing. The final routing included multiple loops over Canberra itself.
Once on board, I waited in my seat patiently while the plane progressively filled up. 263 passengers boarded this last 747 flight. Eventually the doors shut and in true fashion, we still couldn't find a few passengers but when they were found, we started pushback not long after. We were given the safety briefing before we headed down to runway 35. I will say though the taxi was very quick. We then took off and boy will I miss those engines coming to full life. We then headed according to the flight plan (Today the very last Qantas 747 will take off on her final passenger flight, soaring over the nation's capital for the last farewell joy flight from Canberra. She'll take to the skies around 12pm, heading north and then to the west to take in the sites of the Snowy Mountains, passing over Tumut, Talbingo, Kiandra, Mount Kosciusko, Jindabyne and Cooma before approaching Canberra from the south to pass Woden and fly over Parliament House, down Anzac Parade, over the War Memorial and towards Mount Ainslie. She will then fly down the length of Lake Burley Griffin and loop back for one final stretch down the lake to give everyone stationed shore-side a second look, before returning to the airport around 115pm) The shots of the Snowy Mountain region was amazing. It was a perfect day for flying. On the plane to be honest the people on the window seats would have gotten the best view of the actual overfly of Canberra, as the seatbelt sign was on and we were all seated for probably the best part of the flight. I was in an aisle seat and while I could see Telstra (Black Mountain) Tower from above and it was lovely, I couldn't get decent pictures. We made a turn and went back to Lake Burley Griffin before landing from Runway 17. one last time. It was bittersweet, as applause filled the cabin and the cabin services manager said her farewell, fighting back emotions doing it. She was retiring after many years with Qantas. We taxied back to Gate 4, not before getting a water cannon salute and then finally arriving at the gate. It was bitter sweet for me, when I heard the engines being switched off. It's hard to explain, but to me (the 747) it's not just a plane that got me from A to B, but it's a plane that made flying fun, it's a plane that I am used to seeing whenever I go to Sydney and it's a plane that I can so associate with the Qantas colours easily.
The last picture was a final picture taken from the balcony of my apartment.
Food was marked down as it was served in a bag. Hard to give a decent mark, but due to COVID, it’s hard to serve a decent meal. Inflight entertainment was non existent (screens weren’t on) but no one was complaining. The stories, views and scrambling to get the best pictures more than made up for it.
It was an absolutely amazing day. Perfect day for a flight, perfect aircraft, perfect sendoff.
Farewell to the Queen of the Skies, Boeing 747. It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of saying farewell to Wunala. Thank you for the memories.
Due to COVID-19 I don't know when my next flight will be on a wide body aircraft but hey, I'll take this in the interim. If this is my last flight on the Boeing 747, then this is probably the best way to remember the Boeing 747 by.