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Queen of the Skies: How you can still use points and miles to fly the Boeing 747


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Often called the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747 took its first test flight in 1969. Over the years, the aircraft transformed air travel and ushered in the jet age. The original wide-body jet, the 747 could fly farther and faster than any commercial passenger aircraft. The most recent version, the 747-8, has a range of 9,300 miles and carries around 400 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.

Unfortunately, the glory days of the 747 are rapidly ending as airlines shift to more fuel-efficient jets like Boeing 787 Dreamliners and the Airbus A350 family.

Related: Get a limited-edition Delta credit card made from an iconic retired 747

Which airlines still fly the Boeing 747?

An American carrier hasn’t operated the 747 since United Airlines and Delta Air Lines both retired their 747s. Several other airlines had plans to phase them out over the coming years, but the coronavirus pandemic accelerated that timeline, with KLM, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways retiring their 747 fleets early.

Despite that, you can still find 747 flights on several major commercial airlines — and use miles to experience this beautiful plane. It won’t be long until the last 747-400s are retired, leaving the next-generation 747-8i as the last version of the Queen of the Skies still flying. Only three airlines — Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China — have opted to purchase the 747-8i, so you’ll want to focus on those three moving forward.

The routes, destinations and flight numbers listed below are current as of publication, taken from airfleets.net, but are subject to change since aircraft are constantly swapped in and out. If you hope to fly a 747 yourself, double-check your exact flights to confirm that the aircraft is indeed flying your itinerary.

Related: The final 747: Boeing delivers the last of its iconic jumbo jets

Air China

(Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy)ETHAN STEINBERG/THE POINTS GUY

This mainland Chinese carrier has nine active Boeing 747s in its fleet: four of the 400 variant and five of the 8 variant. All have first, business and economy class.

Routes

Among other routes, you can find Air China’s 747-8s on the following flights from its hub at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK):

  • Between Beijing and Shenzhen Baoan International Airport (SZX): CA 1313/1314, 1397/1398
  • Between Beijing and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA): CA 1517/1518, 1531/1532
  • Between Beijing and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN): CA 1315/1316, 1321/1322
  • Between Beijing and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK): CA 981/982

Using miles

Air China is a member of Star Alliance, so there are several partner miles you can use to book flights. While we did not find award availability on the New York route, if you do want to fly the 747 within China, then availability is good. You could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus and redeem them at a rate of 8,000 miles each way in economy, 24,800 in business class or 33,000 in first class on domestic flights in China.

Related: How to maximize your rewards-earning with the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Asiana Airlines

4700_6375.jpgALBERTO RIVA/THE POINTS GUY

This Korean carrier has 10 747-400s, though Asiana has converted many into cargo planes to give them a second life.

Routes

The airline currently uses its 747s on high-traffic, short-haul routes within Asia:

  • Between Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) and Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT): OZ 102/103

Using miles

This is yet another Star Alliance carrier, so you can refine your search to use Aeroplan, Avianca, United or All Nippon Airways miles, depending on your plan.

We recommend Aeroplan, which will charge you just 8,000 points each way in economy or 20,000 in business class.

Related: How to redeem Aeroplan points for maximum value

Korean Air

A Korean Air 747-400 at Seoul Incheon airport in December 2017 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)ALBERTO RIVA/THE POINTS GUY

Korean Air is one of just three airlines to have ordered the Boeing 747-8, with nine passenger 747-8s in a three-class configuration (along with about a dozen cargo aircraft). The fleet includes HL7644, the last passenger 747 aircraft ever built.

Routes

This summer, the airline operates these routes using 747s; however, check schedules as some will not be operational all summer:

  • Between Seoul and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): KE 35/36
  • Between Seoul and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL): KE 53/54
  • Between Seoul and New York-JFK: KE 85/86
  • Between Seoul and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG): KE 901/902

Using miles

Now that Korean Air’s SkyPass program is no longer a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, your best bet for awards is likely Delta SkyMiles. Awards from the U.S. to Seoul are 64,000 miles each way in economy class, with no premium availability.

Alternatively, you could transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy to Korean Air at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. This is the fastest way to top up your Korean Air SkyPass mileage balance and one of the only times it really makes sense to transfer Marriott points to an airline.

You can book one-way first-class awards between the U.S. and Seoul for only 80,000 SkyPass miles off-peak, an absolute steal if you’re sitting in the spacious and private six-seat cabin on Korean’s 747-8. Business class costs 62,500 miles off-peak, and economy costs 35,000 miles.

Related: Ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles, from using credit cards to online shopping

Lufthansa

Lufthansa 747-8 Business Class on the lower deck. Photo by Alberto Riva / The Points GuyALBERTO RIVA/THE POINTS GUY

Like Air China and Korean Air, Lufthansa has 747-400s and 747-8s in its fleet. It’s got eight of the former and 19 of the latter for a total of 27, so these birds will be flying for a while as Lufthansa has by far the world’s largest 747 passenger fleet. The 400s are in a three-class configuration without first class, while the newer 8s have a first-class cabin.

Related: Is Lufthansa 747 premium economy worth it to Europe?

Routes

Lufthansa flies 747s on the following routes, among others. But, given the airline’s scale of operations, this is highly likely to change.

  • Between Frankfurt Airport (FRA) and Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR): LH 754/755
  • Between Frankfurt and Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport (EZE): LH 510/511
  • Between Frankfurt and Aeroporto Internacional de Sao Paulo-Guarulhos (GRU): LH 506/507
  • Between Frankfurt and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): LH 440/441
  • Between Frankfurt and Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB): LH572/573
  • Between Frankfurt and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): LH 450/451, 456/457
  • Between Frankfurt and Mexico City International Airport (MEX): LH 498/499
  • Between Frankfurt and Miami International Airport (MIA): LH 462/463
  • Between Frankfurt and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR): LH 402/403
  • Between Frankfurt and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD): LH 430/431 and 432/433
  • Between Frankfurt and San Francisco International Airport (SFO): LH 454/455
  • Between Frankfurt and Seoul: LH 712/713
  • Between Frankfurt and Shanghai: LH 732/733
  • Between Frankfurt and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN): LH 778/779
  • Between Frankfurt and Tokyo: LH 716/717
  • Between Frankfurt and Vancouver International Airport (YVR): LH 492/493
  • Between Frankfurt and Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ): LH 470/471

Using miles

As with the other Star Alliance carriers above, you can book Lufthansa with Aeroplan, Avianca or United miles.

Here is the cost of booking Lufthansa first class one-way from the United States to Germany:

Program Economy Premium economy Business class First class
Aeroplan 35,000-40,000 points N/A 60,000-70,000 points 90,000-100,000 points
Avianca LifeMiles 30,000 miles N/A 63,000 miles 87,000 miles
United MileagePlus 43,900 miles N/A 88,000 miles 121,000-154,000 miles*

* Though United usually priced Lufthansa flights at 121,000 miles, the airline seemingly devalued first-class partner flights, increasing the mileage price to 154,000 miles.

Related: The ultimate guide to Lufthansa first class

Bottom line

There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing a humpbacked plane waiting at your gate and getting to enjoy a flight on the 747’s top deck. Unfortunately, this experience is getting rarer and rarer as airlines worldwide retire the jumbo jet.

However, there’s still time left to fly the Queen of the Skies, and plenty of ways to redeem your points and miles to do so.

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